wild frontier books; Early American History

Books on the American Frontier

US History Project Ideas

Find high adventure in American history with wild frontier books!

Start with a great story for younger kids that is set in the 1750’s. In The Matchlock Gun, a family settles in the untamed wilderness and make a home for themselves. But that is not without it’s dangers! When his father is away one day, a pioneer boy must be brave and protect his family when danger comes.

Several other fascinating reads in this section tell the true stories of Indian captives (please read cautionary notes).

Move to the 1760’s for the classic tale for upper elementary, The Sign of the Beaver. This historical fiction story tells how a boy on the frontier survives alone with the help of nearby native Americans. Look in this section for books that would appeal to girls, with the Kaya series from the American Girls collection.


Ben and Me by Robert Lawson. UE+

Calico Bush by Rachel Field, illus. Allen Lewis. UE+
Newbery Honor. A young French girl is left an orphan during the time of the French & Indian War.

Maggie’s Choice (The American Adventure #8) by Norma Jean Lutz. UE-JH
Christian historical fiction. Historical focus is Jonathon Edwards and the Great Awakening.


Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare, illus. W.T. Mars. Houghton Mifflin Co., ©1957/85. JH-HS
Based on the true, harrowing experience of a teenage girl, captured by Indians with her sister’s young family and forced to march miles from home. After enduring a difficult several years, they finally managed to return. A hint of romance adds an extra dimension. (see Ransom of Mercy Carter, 1700-1710)

Duel in the Wilderness by Karin Clafford Farley. JH-HS
An adventure story about one of George Washington’s first military assignments. Based on his journal.

Indian Captive : The Story of Mary Jemison by Lois Lenski. J.B,Lippincott, 1941. *UE-HS
A fictionalized account of the true story of a young girl who is captured by Indians and lives the rest of her life with them. A good picture of Indian culture. *Not recommended for more sensitive children who may be upset that Mary is never reunited with her parents or family.

The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper. HS

The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds, illus. Paul Lantz. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1941. E-UE
Newbery Medal. Upstate New York in 1757 was newly settled and troubled with French-aroused Indian attacks. This true story portrays a young boy’s bravery in defending his home and family. Recommended.


Boston Revolts (The American Adventure #9) by Susan Martins Miller, illus. Adam Wallenta. UE-JH
Christian historical fiction. Historical focus is Boston’s response to the Stamp Act.

Conestoga Wagons by Richard Ammon, illus. Bill Farnsworth. Holiday House, 2000. E-UE
Between 1750 and 1850, the Conestoga wagons were part of the American story. This book tells you what made them so special & how they were used, giving you a glimpse into the transportation challenges of early America.

Kaya’s Story Collection (The American Girls Collection): The individual books are Meet Kaya, Kaya’s Escape, Kaya’s Hero, Kaya and Lone Dog, Kaya Shows the Way, and Changes for Kaya by Janet Shaw, illus. Bill Farnsworth. The Pleasant Co. 2002. E-JH
Five stories based on the life of a fictional Nez Perce girl in 1764, written especially for girls.

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare. UE-JH
A 12-year-old boy is left alone in the family cabin in the wilderness. Only with the help and friendship of local Indians does he find ways to survive until his family returns.

Welcome to Kaya’s World 1764: Growing Up in a Native American Homeland (The American Girls Collection series). Pleasant Co. UE-JH
Expanding on the Kaya series, this book illustrates and explains many facets of the typical way of life in her time period and location.

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