Wild West

Summer Reading

June 25, 2000

About this page: Appearing monthly during the summer (also on July 23 and Aug. 13), this page will provide youngsters and their parents with age-appropriate readings suggested by local experts and regional libraries. Also included are activities and fun facts for entertainment and learning.

One-room schoolhouses were once a fixture in towns across the United States. Maryland is home to a handful, including one nicknamed Little Red on St. Clement's Island. Call: 301-769-2222.

The West was also won through words, giving the United States some literary greats. Laura Ingalls Wilder of "Little House" fame was teaching by the time she was 15. Mark Twain (born Samuel Clemens) worked as a reporter in San Francisco, and went on to write the Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn stories.

JOKE: A man asks a cowboy, "What's the opposite of 'woe' "? The cowboy answers, "Sir, I believe that would be 'giddy up.' " (Horse & Cowboy Jokes, www.horselink.com/jokes.html)

Buckaroo: a cowboy (in Spanish also known as a charro or vaquero).

The golden age of the cowboy was from 1866 to 1886, in the era of open ranges and great cattle drives. In Texas, about 5 million cattle were available to move north to many locations, but mostly to Missouri.

Constantly on the plains, cowboys were very picky about what they wore, making sure it was practical more than fashionable. Cowboy hats protec-ted them from the sun and rain, worked as a cup for water and when folded over made a pillow.

Born a slave in 1800 in Virginia, Clara Brown and her family were sold separately when their plantation owner died. In 1856, she was granted her freedom and headed west as a cook on a wagon train, hoping to reunite her family. In Colorado, she thrived in business and her community, and successfully brought 16 relatives west. At age 82, she finally found her daughter.

Gold is discovered in California in 1848 and the Gold Rush is on! A year later, 80,000 prospectors head there to try to strike it rich.


Hot summer days are perfect for something simple and refreshing. Try this treat:

Cactus Cooler

You will need:

1 bottle lemon-lime soda (1-liter size)

4 tall glasses

measuring cup

1 ice cream scoop

4 scoops lime sherbet



What to do:

1. Pour 1 cup of lemon-lime soda into each glass.

2. Place a scoop of lime sherbet carefully into each glass. Serve with a straw and a spoon.

Tail riders: who follow the trail herd and keep cows and their calves moving.

Suggested titles

Check your reading comprehension with these questions.

Ages 4-8:

1. "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" by Mark Teague

What new cowboy tricks does Wallace discover?

2. "Crazy Horse's Vision" by Joseph Bruchac

What message does Curly receive from his vision quest?

3. "The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses" by Paul Goble

What separates the girl from her people?

4. "Hog Music" by M.C. Helldorfer

Lucy receives what gifts for her birthday?

5. "Black Cowboy, Wild Horses: A True Story" by Julius Lester

What are Bob and Warrior tracking?

6. "Swamp Angel" by Anne Isaacs

What made Angelica different from other girls?

7. "Little Red Cowboy Hat" by Susan Lowell

Who did Little Red encounter on the way to Grandma's?

8. "True Heart" by Marissa Moss

Bee is allowed to drive the train after what happens?

9. "Saving Sweetness" by Diane Stanley

What does the sheriff forget on his way to retrieve the runaway?

10. "Ten Mile Day and the Building of the Transcontinental Railroad" by Mary Ann Fraser

What is the record for most track laid in a single day?

Suggested titles

Check your reading comprehension with these questions.

Ages 9-12:

1. "Frontier Fever: The Scary, Superstitious -- and Sometimes Sensible -- Medicine of the Pioneers" by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk

What was the first human disease credited to a virus?

2. "Into a New Country: Eight Remarkable Women of the West" by Liza Ketchum

Who was the first Native American woman to earn a medical degree?

3. "Little House in the Big Woods" by Laura Ingalls Wilder

What was the weekly work schedule in the Ingalls house?

4. "Pioneer Girl: Growing Up on the Prairie" by Andrea Warren

What kinds of toys did pioneer children make?

5. "The Adventures of Midnight Son" by Denise Lewis Patrick

Why is Midnight in danger as soon as he accepts an invitation to his first cattle drive?

6. "Charro: The Mexican Cowboy" by George Ancona

How do boys learning to be cowboys spend their school vacations?

7. "The Ballad of Lucy Whipple" by Karen Cushman

What are the rules for Lucy's lending library?

8. "Bad Guys: True Stories of Legendary Gunslingers, Sidewinders, Fourflushers, Drygulchers, Bushwackers, Freebooters and Downright Bad Guys and Gals of the Wild West" by Andrew Glass

What was Billy the Kid's unique ability?

9. "Dragon's Gate" by Laurence Yep

Whose father disapproves of his son's friendship with Otter?

10. "Journey to Nowhere" by Mary Jane Auch

How does Remembrance "Mem" Nye escape from mortal danger?

Answers to the reading comprehension questions will appear in the July 23 Home & Family section. Or check them out on The Sun's Web page at www.readingby9.com.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.