Core Curriculum - Fifth Grade
by Roy Gerrard
This tale of westward movement is told in rhyme. The pictures are delightful and engage the reader in learning about U.S. history. A family is impressed with stories of the west and they follow the Oregon Trail to a place of unbelievable beauty where they make their home. Here twenty years later the fair Willamette's still their happy home. " It's the place from which we never wish to roam."
Orphan Train Children-Will's Choice
by Joan Lowery Nixon, ISBN: 0440413095), Bantam Doubleday Dell
This book is fiction, but is based on stories of homeless children and other children who were sent west to be placed in homes and given opportunities they would not have in the East. Will Scott had tried very hard to gain his father's approval. His father was a circus performer and he had tried to have Will become part of the circus. As much as Will wanted to, and as hard as he tried, he could not perform the stunts. Will was heartsick when his father said he was going to send him West on the orphan train. Will was placed with Dr. and Mrs. Wallace who believed in Will from the beginning. Will was very good at helping Dr. Wallace with his patients. Will missed his father and knew he would eventually come for him. Finally, his father's circus was coming to Will's town. As Will got everything ready to leave and go with his father, he realized how much the Wallaces loved him, the opportunities he would have, and the contributions he could make if he stayed.
A Line in the Sand The Alamo Diary of Lucinda Lawrence
by Sherry Garland, ISBN: 590394665, Scholastic
This novel takes place in 1836 where Lucinda Lawrence and her family have a farm. The new Republic of Mexico has allowed Americans to colonize Texas mainly as a buffer, one between Mexican settlements and Indian raids. This is a historical fiction account about Lucinda's life in Gonzales, Texas, during the Alamo. The book is the diary account of her day-to-day experiences of living in Texas. Being isolated from the United States and from Mexico City her family has become self-sufficient. The hardships and tragedy of war is well explored with Lucinda's experience with the Alamo. This story is well written and gives the reader a wonderful understanding of what life was like in 1836. On page 183 there is a historical note explaining the time period, it is excellent and also includes historical pictures of this time period. I would recommend this book to any fifth grader who would like to read about the courage, determination and hardships that these pioneer people faced at this time in history.
Note: This book might appeal to girls more than boys since it is written from a 13 year old girl's perspective.
Little House on the Prairie Series
by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Scholastic
The view of frontier life on the prairie is told in this series of books. This book paints vivid word pictures of the hardships, excitement, joys, and sorrows of living the pioneer life in a land not yet converted to civilization.
Little House in the Big Woods
The First Four Years
Little House on the Prairie
On the Banks of Plum Creek
By the Shores of Silver Lake
The Long Winter
These Happy Golden Years
Little Town on the Prairie
Rachel's Journal - The Story of a Pioneer Girl
by Marissa Moss, ISBN: 043909870X, Scholastic
This book is fictional but is based on many actual experiences of overland migrates. Rachel keeps a journal as she and her family travels with a wagon train from Illinois to California. As Rachel relates the dangers and adventures of traveling the Oregon Trail, the reader gets a very real sense of what being on the trail was like. However, the book is quite laborious to read as it is in manuscript form. There are also many illustrations with explanations in manuscript form but written very small.
The Second Bend in the River
by Ann Rinaldi, ISBN: 0590742590, Scholastic
This is a wonderful story about the settling of the Northwest Territory (Ohio). Rebecca Galloway is afraid of Indians. But then she meets Tecumseh, the powerful Shawnee leader. Slowly they strike up a friendship. Whenever he comes to visit Rebecca teaches him English grammar and helps him with his speeches. Tecumseh, in turn, teaches her about the ways of his people and about his efforts to make peace with the settlers on their land. This story is based on a true friendship between the great chief Tecumseh and Rebecca Galloway.
My Name is America - The Journal of Joshua Loper
by Walter Dean Myers, ISBN: 0590026917, Scholastic
The excellent story of a black cowboy on the Chisholm Trail in 1871. Joshua has been raised on a Mr. Muhlen's cow ranch. He is sixteen and old enough to join the other cowboys on the trail to Kansas. Mr. Muhlen is not able to go on the trail. He has Captain Hunter, who is not fond of colors, lead the drive. Joshua grows up on the trail eating dust, taking after strays, settles a stampede, and learns of the lonely world of a cowboy. When they reach Kansas he learns other lessons as he meets Atown folk and learns of town girls. His heart is always home with his mother and he proudly presents her with the money that he has earned from his Chisholm Trail experience. The book is written in diary form and adds time pictures and information at the end of the book.
by Pam Conrad, ISBN: 0590019708, Scholastic
Louisa loves the Nebraska prairie, the only home she's ever known. It is lonely, but it is a wonderful kind of loneliness that comes of stillness and open sky and oneness with the land. A new doctor moves into town and brings Louisa a look at the outside world. The doctor's wife, Emmeline, teaches Louisa to read and brings the shyness out of her little brother, Lester. Louisa also sees Emmeline, unprepared for the rough rough life on the prairie, fade into a silent, baffling world of madness and despair.
Note: Use with caution because of Emmeline's battle with mental illness.
The Journal of Sean Sullivan, A Railroad Worker
by William Durbin, ISBN: 0439049946, Scholastic
Sean Sullivan meets his father in Omaha, Nebraska on August 6, 1867. He wants to prove to his railroad father that he is a man. Sean works on the Union Pacific rail line as it brings the nation together by meeting the rails of the Central Pacific at Promontory Point Utah. It is a story of Indians, hardship and prejudice, especially to the Chinese workers of the Central Pacific. Sean fights the elements as he learns what hard work it is to bind a nation together.
Note: A history section is found at the back of the book.
The Quilt-Block History of Pioneer Days
by Mary Cobb, ISBN: 1562946927, Library of Congress
The story of the pioneering of the United States is told through story and quilt blocks. As the women of the United States moved west they changed their quilt patterns to tell their stories, their wants, and their dreams. Not only does this book tell about the movement west but it also shows basic quilt patterns that students could do themselves. There are several paper and crayon activities that could be done in class or at home.
The Great Railroad Race The Diary of Libby West
by Kristiana Gregory, ISBN: 059010991X, Scholastic
Woman worked hard in the old west from youth to old age. This story is a diary of Libby West whose father tells the story of the west in print. As they follow the building of the Transcontinental Railroad they write the stories that are sent to newspapers all over the United States.. The end of the story finds her in Utah as the rails come together at Promontory, Utah. This is a great book to see how the railroad worked and how the people who built the railroad lived.
Note: As with the other books in this series, a chapter is included at the end documenting actual historical events which includes photographs.
The Great Fire
by Jim Murphy, ISBN: 0590472666, Scholastic
The great Chicago fire began on Sunday, October 8, 1871. It burned for the rest of Sunday, all of Monday, and into the early hours of Tuesday with little real opposition. You will view through the eyes of different people you will see the fire from many distinct vantage points, and feel a wide range of emotions as the hot breath of the fire draws nearer and nearer.
by Martin W. Sandler, ISBN: 0060233184, Harper/Collins
This book offers a fascinating look into the past at some of the most important events in our country's history through the pictures stored in the Library of Congress's vast archives. Cowboys show what life was like for one of America's greatest heroes, through: vintage photographs, posters, paintings, maps and diagrams, quotes from cowboy diaries, lyrics from cowboy songs. It's a breathtaking look back through time at the life and legend of the American cowboy.