25 Wild & Wooly Children’s Stories About The Old West

Karen Patten

Sometimes I struggle to find stories for children at bedtime so that I can read the same story to both boys. I want to find a book that works for both of my boys, who are three years apart. Since I can’t always find a book that they are both interested in, I usually end up reading to my younger one and letting my older son read to himself. But I love reading to both of them and I know the benefits of reading to children of all ages. So I’ve solved that by looking for topics that we all enjoy. Finding these children’s stories about the old west felt like winning a dual at high noon!

My older one is still happy listening to stories below his actual reading level and my younger one is happy listening to things above his level. It’s the subject matter that they can’t always agree upon. My older son thinks some topics aren’t mature enough. The younger one isn’t yet interested in everything the older one is interested in. So what’s a mom to do?

Children's stories about the Old West are great for all ages. I love that this list is diverse and has something for everyone! www.themidlifemamas.com

You can check out most of these books at your local library, or use the affiliate links provided to add them to your personal library. Spoil My Family makes a small commission on sales, but the price to you is exactly the same!

Spoil My Family makes a small commission on sales, but the price to you is exactly the same!

Finding topics that both are interested in is the trick! Children’s books about the old west have something for every one – adventure abounds! When we travel, we love finding a local bookstore and discovering new books as souvenirs! As part of our summer road trip, we’ve headed out west and discovered that we all love books about Native Americans, cowgirls, cowboys, and the old west!

Here are some of the best stories we’ve found about the wild west for kids ages five to nine. And don’t worry, I’ve included plenty of great choices for the cowgirls too!

Children’s Stories About the Old West

In words and pictures, this book captures all the excitement and adventure of the Wild West. Gibbons’s colorful watercolors deftly recreate cowboys clothing, equipment, and lifestyle, and the lively text includes descriptions of famous cowboys and cowgirls, as well as historical facts.

It is a sad and sorry day when Burnt Beard the Pirate and his scurvy crew swagger into Old Cheyenne looking to bury their treasure. Black Bob McKraw—terror of the Wild West—and his posse don’t take too kindly to pirates invading their town. And to add insult to injury, the pirates and cowboys can’t understand a lick of what the others are saying. None of them cowboys speak Pirate, and none of them pirates speak Cowboy. Who will save the day before these sorry—and stinky!—bilge rats and yellow-bellied varmints draw their cutlasses and six-shooters?

From the creator of the hilarious Creepy Carrots, comes the story of a simple misunderstanding that almost meant the end of Old Cheyenne.

Giddyup and gallop right over to read this rootin’ tootin’ tale of an unlikely cowboy. Avery’s at camp, training hard with his horse and his lasso. But he’s just not feeling up to the challenge. Then a bully threatens all the campers—and Avery proves his mettle in his own unique way. Kids will love the story’s lively language and wildly playful pictures.

Some kids spend their summer vacation at camp. Some kids spend it at Grandma’s house. Wallace Bleff spent his out west…on a ride, a rope, and a roundup he’ll never forget.

Stories About Native Americans in the Old West

“There was a girl in the village who loved horses… She led the horses to drink at the river. She spoke softly and they followed. People noticed that she understood horses in a special way.”
And so begins the story of a young Native American girl devoted to the care of her tribe’s horses. With simple text and brilliant illustrations. Paul Goble tells how she eventually becomes one of them to forever run free.

A brave boy goes into the hills and prays for help for his people. A rider on a magnificent animal comes to him and says: “This animal is called the Sacred Dog. He can do many things your dogs can do and also more…He is as the wind: gentle but sometimes frightening.” The clouds close and suddenly one by one countless Sacred Dogs course down from the sky. And so the courage of one determined boy is rewarded by the Great Spirit: The horse, or Sacred Dog, is given to his tribe.

The Legend of White Buffalo Woman tells the inspiring story of the first peace pipe, presented to the Lakota people to connect them to the Great Spirit, who will guide them through the hardships of life.

Star Boy was the son of Morning Star and an earthly bride. He was banished from the Sky World for this mother’s disobedience and bore a mysterious scar on his face, the symbol of the Sun’s disapproval.
As Star Boy grew, he came to love the chief’s daughter, and it was she who helped him find the courage to journey to the Sky World and make peace with the Sun. The Sun not only lifted the scar but sent Star Boy back to the world with the sacred knowledge of the Sun Dance, a ceremony of thanks for the Creator’s blessing.

Through carefully chosen stories from the olden days and art that meticulously reflects traditional designs and colors, Goble provides wonderful insights into the spiritual life of the Plains Indians. His intimate knowledge of their world transports the reader into a vision of the sacred beauty and wisdom that defined traditional Native America.

Stories About Cowboys in the Old West

This roundup of wisdom is inspired by the art and heart of Jack Sorenson, called “the Western Rockwell.” His endearing images of little cowpokes relishing life will inspire anyone bringing up a young boy and remind everyone of timeless virtues.

This fun and energetic journey is filled with life lessons to help a little cowboy learn respect, honesty, courage, kindness, loyalty, and much more. Parents, grandparents, teachers, and anyone invested in the life of a boy will be encouraged to lead the way toward the horizon and promise of that boy’s bright future.

The anecdotes associated with Texas’ fabled cowboy hero burst from the pages in rapid succession, Kellogg’s robust illustrations enlarging and enriching the choppy, energetic text that is seasoned with Texan expressions. In dramatizing Pecos Bill’s life story, Kellogg also conveys a sense of place, of the rugged, expansive physical beauty of the American West in pioneer days. Yellow-oranges and blues dominate the scenes, in tones that range from dust-pale to midnight blue. Skillful framing and alternating of perspectives enhance readers’ involvement: vast panoramas in which people are dwarfed by endless stretches of land and sky; double-page spreads cluttered with close-up action; breathtaking overviews, as of a tremendous herd of cattle, each steer made distinct, yet part of a near-monochromatic blend of hazy light and animal landscape.

Tornado Slim is just your regular cowboy . . . until the day he meets the coyote. The coyote gives Slim his special hat and asks him to deliver a letter to the sheriff of Fire Gulch City. Slim has never been to Fire Gulch City, but he figures he can handle it. As Slim travels from town to town, disaster seems to follow. Pretty soon Slim learns that his new hat is NOT your average cowboy hat. Will Slim ever make it to Fire Gulch City? And what did the wily coyote put down in that letter, anyway? Watercolor illustrations add lively humor to this original tall tale.

Young cowpokes everywhere will take a shine to this rib-ticklin’ tale of Slim Jim Watkins and his vanishing wardrobe. Every night when the tired cowboy disrobes and stretches out on his bedroll for some shut-eye, thieving varmints emerge from the darkness. First, a pair of slithering snakes boost his britches, then his bandana’s lifted by a coyote. When an armadillo makes off with his hat, Slim finally cottons to the shenanigans and wisely opts to sleep fully clothed. Knowlton’s humorous story finds a ready pardner in Rice’s droll pen-and-wash illustrations, colored with the dusty hues of the Southwest

Sally May and Loper head off to visit the relatives, leaving Slim in charge of Little Alfred. Hank’s sure trouble will come knocking. First, Slim is struck down with the measles. Then a blizzard hits the ranch, trapping them in the house with no heat or electricity. Somehow, Hank’s got to find a way to get them out of this mess…before they’re snowed in for good!

Grizz Brickbottom, toughest cowboy in the West, yearns for a companion and convinces his cattle-rustling cohorts that they need a dog to help with the work. When the local saloon goes out of business, the proprietor puts up a sign offering a free dog to a good home. Unexpectedly, it’s a miniature poodle named Foofy. Although the pup is afraid of cows and won’t chase away mountain lions, she provides complete amusement for the cowpokes because she catches flying tin dinner plates in her mouth. Children will revel in the descriptive language (“Don’t squat with your spurs on”) and exaggerated metaphors and similes. Gross visual and verbal jokes abound (“S’not the point”). The oil-rendered paintings are spot-on renditions of the Wild West and will transport the audience to the Big Sky Country of the 1860s.

Stories About Cowgirls in the Old West

Hold on to your hats! Two new pals have arrived on the scene: Cowgirl Kate and her stubborn, but devoted cowhorse, Cocoa. Together they count the herd, ride the range, and, of course, argue till the cows come home–as only best friends can do.
With its spirited text and bright, humorous illustrations by Caldecott Honor recipient Betsy Lewin, this first book in the Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa series is bound to be a hit with young wranglers everywhere.
A Cowgirl Peg Book, this story contains a great message for young readers. Shortstuff wants to be a rodeo bucking horse, but he is too short. Listen as he shares his story of success with Cowgirl Peg’s horses. Learn how he overcame his disadvantage. Told by the horses, this story will entertain readers with humor, suspense and beautiful artwork.
Who says girls can’t be cowboys? Lucille Mulhall wasn’t like most girls in the 1890s. She didn’t give a lick about sewing or cooking or becoming a lady. Lucille had her heart set on roping and riding. At a time when most women couldn’t vote or own property, Lucille never let society’s expectations or the dangers of roping and riding stop her from pursuing her passion. Traveling around the country, she broke records and thrilled crowds with her daring acts. Soon cowboys, ranch hands, and folks all over the world cheered for the feisty and fearless girl cowboy.
Gabby shows Slim Watkins and the other cowpokes that kindness through sweet talk gets better results than yelling or poking fun.
Kansas cowgirl Twyla loves the wind and rides tornadoes in the Flint Hills Rodeo in this 32-page picture book illustrated with black-and-white line drawings. Extras include information on tornadoes, dust devils and rodeos, and a resource list of books and websites.
Full of whip-crackin’ cow-huntin’ fun. Iris Wall was anything but an average girl. Average girls in 1948 were learning how to embroider and crochet. However, Iris was having the time of her life riding in rodeos, taming horses, and hunting cows with her daddy. The ultimate outdoor heroine, she was part of the Old Florida heritage that is synonymous with endurance, pride, and strength. A glossary of terms about cracker cowhunters is included in this biography.

Stories About African American Cowboys & Cowgirls

Cowboys played an important role in the history of America’s West from the 1860s to the 1890s. Many of these cowboys were African American and Mexican. Students will learn about the tough life of black cowboys on the trail and about life on the range. Some of the legendary black cowboys considered in this book are Bose lkard, Nat Love, Isom Dart, and Bill Pickett.
Black Frontiers chronicles the life and times of black men and women who settled the West from 1865 to the early 1900s. In this striking book, you’ll meet many of these brave individuals face-to-face, through rare vintage photographs and a fascinating account of their real-life history.
Thunder Rose vows to grow up to be more than just big and strong, thank you very kindly–and boy, does she ever! But when a whirling storm on a riotous rampage threatens, has Rose finally met her match?

The true sweat-and-dirt tale of the feisty cowboy-child who became the most famous black rodeo performer who ever lived. Includes a note about the history of the black West and a bibliography.

Sitting tall in the saddle, with a wide-brimmed black hat and twin Colt pistols on his belt, Bass Reeves seemed bigger than life. As a U.S. Marshal – and former slave who escaped to freedom in the Indian Territories – Bass was cunning and fearless.

When a lawbreaker heard Bass Reeves had his warrant, he knew it was the end of the trail, because Bass always got his man, dead or alive. He achieved all this in spite of whites who didn’t like the notion of a black lawman.

For three decades, Bass was the most feared and respected lawman in the territories. He made more than 3,000 arrests, and though he was a crach shot and a quick draw, he only killed fourteen men in the line of duty. Bad News for Outlaws reveals the story of a remarkable African American hero of the Old West.

Bob Lemmons is famous for his ability to track wild horses. He rides his horse, Warrior, picks up the trail of mustangs, then runs with them day and night until they accept his presence. Bob and Warrior must then challenge the stallion for leadership of the wild herd. A victorious Bob leads the mustangs across the wide plains and for one last spectacular run before guiding them into the corral. Bob’s job is done, but he dreams of galloping with Warrior forever to where the sky and land meet.This splendid collaboration by an award-winning team captures the beauty and harshness of the frontier, a boundless arena for the struggle between freedom and survival. Based on accounts of Bob Lemmons, a former slave, Black Cowboy, Wild Horses has been rewritten as a picture book by Julius Lester.

As I said, we loved discovering children’s stories about the old west ! We also love this list of books about dragons and  everyone loves the beach, so beach books for children of all ages was also great fun!

This is the best list of books about dragons for young children I've ever seen! www.themidlifemamas.com

This beach stories reading list is all you need before you hop in your hammock with your little one and start turning the pages! www.themidlifemamas.com

I love having a list of great books right at my fingertips! This is a great summer reading list for my boys between the ages of 8-12! www.themidlifemamas.com


Hi, I’m Karen, the Atlanta mama, writer, and creator at Intentional Family Life. I’m a passionate advocate for intentional living so that you can experience all that you deserve for yourself and your family. Here, I inspire moms to chose what matters most and then to only do the things that move them closer to what matters most. Read More About Karen…

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