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Books to Read


Arrington, Frances. Bluestem. Philomel Books, 2000.
With their father away and their mother traumatized by the death of a child, eleven-year-old Polly and her younger sister are left to take care of themselves and their prairie homestead.

Conrad, Pam. Prairie Songs. Harper & Row, 1985.
A young pioneer wife has difficulty adjusting to the harsh conditions of life on the prairie, and becomes totally unable to cope after a tragedy hits.

MacLachlan, Patricia. Sarah, Plain and Tall. Harper & Row, 1985.
In the late 19th century a widowed Midwestern farmer with two children advertises for a wife, but when she arrives from Maine, she has trouble adjusting to life on the farm.

Turner, Ann W. Grasshopper Summer. Macmillan, 1989.
A boy and his family move from Kentucky to the southern Dakota Territory in 1874, where harsh conditions and a plague of hungry grasshoppers threaten their chances for survival.

Van Leeuwen, Jean. Nothing Here But Trees. Dial Books, 1998.
A close-knit pioneer family carves out a new home in Ohio in the early nineteenth century.

Wilder, Laura Ingalls. On the Banks of Plum Creek. Cadmus, 1937.
Laura and her family live in a dugout in Minnesota and face misfortunes caused by floods, blizzards, and grasshoppers.


Bial, Raymond. Frontier Home. Houghton, 1993.
Describes the challenges that settlers faced when creating a new home on the prairie.

Gillespie, Sarah. A Pioneer Farm Girl: The Diary of Sarah Gillespie, 1877-1878. Blue Earth Books, 2000.
Excerpts from the diary of Sarah Gillespie, a pioneer in Iowa in the nineteenth century. Includes activities, photos of artifacts, and a timeline related to the era.

Greenwood, Barbara. A Pioneer Sampler: The Daily Life of a Pioneer Family in 1840. Ticknor & Fields, 1995.
A blend of fiction and fact provides a full picture of mid-nineteenth-century pioneer life.

Isaacs, Sally Senzell. Life on a Pioneer Homestead. Heinemann, 2001.
An overview of life on a pioneer homestead including building a home, cooking, clothing, schools, and everyday activities.

Kalman, Bobbie. Pioneer Recipes. Crabtree, 2000.
An illustrated cookbook that features recipes from the many immigrant groups who settled in the Midwest. Describes how pioneers prepared their meals and gives step-by-step instructions on preparing recipes.

Patent, Dorothy Hinshaw. Homesteading: Settling American's Heartland. Walker, 1998.
Describes the activities of homesteaders who settled the prairies during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Includes building a home, starting a farm, and surviving on the prairie.

Toht, David. W. Sodbuster. Lerner, 1996.
Includes quotes from pioneers' diaries, verses from songs, old-time remedies, games, and recipes. Presents the hardships, as well as the good times, of pioneer life.

Warren, Andrea. Pioneer Girl: Growing Up on the Prairie. Morrow, 1998.
Describes the daily life and activities of a pioneer girl growing up on the prairies of Nebraska in the late 1800s. Includes living in a soddy, collecting buffalo chips for fuel, battling prairie fires, learning to quilt, surviving a drought, teaching school, and becoming a rancher's wife.


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