We found several other interesting picture books about the subject. One is A Right Fine Life: Kit Carson on the Santa Fe Trail by Andrew Glass. Apparently Kit Carson struck out on his own along the Santa Fe Trail and went on to have a life intertwined with the country's westward expansion. (I'll be looking for some appropriate biographies to add on to our list.) The kids get a kick out of the vernacular; they were talking like Kit after we read it.
Another biography adapted for children is Along the Santa Fe Trail: Marion Russell's Own Story by Marion Russell, adapted by Ginger Wadsworth. The book details a lot of the difficulties and dangers of these times. James Watling's pictures are beautiful and moving, and a great part of this book's appeal.
I found a couple of historical fiction books relating to either the Santa Fe Trail specifically or Westward Expansion in general. The first is the highly recommended title Brave Buffalo Fighter by John D. Fitzgerald. Ds#1 is really enjoying this book even though, again, it shows a lot of the difficulties encountered by families migrating west. All of the fabulous historical fiction from Bethlehem Books are family favorites as well.
We also found a Dear America book about this time period called All the Stars in the Sky: The Santa Fe Trail Diary of Florrie Mack Ryder by Megan McDonald. For those of you unfamiliar with these series, Dear America has fictional young women writing diaries while My Name is America has fictional young men. Our library owns all of both series, and I even saw a few about world history though the series name escapes me. I'm interested to see if Ds#1 likes the Dear America version as much as the My Name is America one. I hope so!
Here are a few good non-fiction selections with wonderful pictures and enough text for the 8 to 14 year olds to read. The Library of Western Expansion: The Santa Fe Trail by Ryan Randolph is short yet informative, great for younger kids. (The book is OOP and very expensive used, so hopefully you can get it from your library like we did.)
David Lavender has written longer works about the Santa Fe Trail, yet also has wonderful 64 page, picture-laden, narrative-style book great for this age group. The Santa Fe Trail by David Lavender makes great reading for this period.
Finally, we also have by Melvin Bacon and Daniel Blegen. Bent's Fort: Crossroads of Cultures on the Santa Fe TrailThis 72 page book is full of details about life on the Trail, including a few references to various faith beliefs and comments, Christian and Native alike. It also contains a fair amount of photographs and drawings.
William Bicknell opened the Santa Fe Trail in 1821 and its use ended, as did many westward routes, with the 1870's completion of the transcontinental railroad. The Trail of Tears is another topic that fits well into this one, as well as the early Mission Trails.
Here are a few web resources that I found though we have not used much yet:
- The Interactive Santa Fe Trail
- The Santa Fe Trail Association
- Santa Fe trail Research Site
- Santa Fe National Historic Trail