Lewis & Clark books & Tall Tales

Tall Tales, Lewis & Clark Books

US History Project Ideas

Read some entertaining Tall Tales to introduce the history of America in the 1800’s! These are fun for kids of all ages, and are followed by other historical fiction & nonfiction from this time period.

Another important theme for the 1800-1810 era is the Lewis & Clark expedition. If you’ll remember, after Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Purchase from France, he commissioned Lewis & Clark to explore this huge, relatively unknown territory. Kids will enjoy hearing about their real-life, often dangerous, adventures into the “great unknown.”

In spite of all that, Tall Tales are still a huge favorite because they’re just plain fun! So let’s start with those…


American Tall Tales by Mary Pope Osborne, wood engravings by Michael McCurdy. Alfred A. Knopf, 1991. UE+
Includes all the prominent tall tales. Entertaining. Good read-aloud for the younger ages.

Davy Crockett Saves the World by Rosalyn Schanzer, illus. HarperCollins, 2001. K-UE
Silly and fun, with all the exaggeration of an American tall tale.

John Henry by Julius Lester, illus. Jerry Pinkney. Dial Books, 1994. K-UE
Well told and well illustrated. Please note for sensitive children that John dies in the end.

Pecos Bill by Steven Kellogg, illus. William Morrow & Co., 1986. K-UE
Based on the historical tall tales, Mr. Kellogg’s story is highly entertaining and his illustrations are superb!

Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett : A Tall Tale by Steven Kellogg, illus. Morrow Jr. Books, 1995. K-UE
Based on the legendary wife of Davy Crockett, Mr. Kellogg’s story is highly entertaining and his illustrations are superb!


American Slave, American Hero: York of the Lewis And Clark Expeditionby Lawrence Pringle, illus. Cornelius Van Wright & Ying-Hwa Hu. E-UE
This book masterfully conquers 2 themes–the Lewis & Clark expedition & the world of an American slave. Follow York from his birth to his part in the expedition to his receiving his freedom late in life. Beautiful watercolor illustrations. Well done.

Bold Journey : West with Lewis and Clark by Charles Bohner.

Earthquake in Cincinnati (The American Adventure #14) by Bonnie Hinman. UE-JH
Christian historical fiction.

How We Crossed The West: The Adventures Of Lewis And Clark by Rosalyn Schanzer. National Geographic Society, 1997. E-UE
A picture book full of information, ending at the arrival to the Pacific. Full-page, color illustrations. Some details can be skimmed over for the younger child. Well done.

The Incredible Journey of Lewis and Clark by Rhoda Blumberg. Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1987. JH-HS
Great Source Book for a complete picture of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Illustrations & photos on almost every page, and very readable text.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition (Landmark History series) by Neuberger.

The Story of Sacajawea : Guide to Lewis and Clark by Della Rowland, illus. Richard Leonard. UE

Streams to the River, River to the Sea by Scott O’Dell. *JH+
Sacagawea’s amazing life story begins here in girlhood, from her capture by a warring tribe to her contributions as a valued member of the Lewis & Clark expedition. *Note that the story portrays (unhappily) married Sacajawea’s romantic feelings for Clark, polygamy in the Indian culture, and Sacajawea enduring slapping, etc., from her less-than-loving husband.

Thomas Jefferson: A Picture Book Biography by James Cross Giblin, illus. Michael Dooling. UE+
Full color illustrations on every page enhance a well-told account of Jefferson’s life.

Back to the main America 1800’s page

share this

Reading Grade Levels

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Get the latest Hands On History Ideas...&

get the "Top 10 History Teaching Ideas" eBook Free!