Favourite Homesteading Books

Cornelius Krieghoff (Dutch-born Canadian painter, 1815-1872)  Settler's HouseCornelius Krieghoff’s Settler’s House image via here

We’re just at the point between winter and spring here in Dorset. There’s daffodils, crocuses and polyanthus flowers brightening up the garden and plenty of blackbirds hopping about for berries still, but it’s rather drear too with grey skies and chilly mornings. Nothing nicer then to curl up with my favourite homesteading titles to re-read and a pot of coffee, my favourite mug and a cuddly afghan blanket. Hope some of these will be similarly comforting to you.

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

angle-repose-wallace-stegner-paperback-cover-artimage from here 

Angle of Repose is a 1971 novel by Wallace Stegner about a wheelchair-using historian, Lyman Ward, who has lost connection with his son and living family and decides to write about his frontier-era grandparents. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1972. The novel is directly based on the letters of Mary Hallock Foote, later published as A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West.

By the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

OnTheBanksOfPlumCreekimage from here

Having left their little house on the Kansas prairie, the Ingalls family travels by covered wagon to Minnesota and settles in a dugout on the banks of Plum Creek. Pa trades his horses Pet and Patty to the property owner (a man named Hanson, who wants to go west) for the land and crops. He later gets two new horses as Christmas presents for the family, which Laura and her sister Mary name “Sam” and “David”. Pa soon builds a new, above-ground, wooden house for the family, trusting that their first crop of wheat will pay for the lumber and materials.

Caddie Woodlawn and Magical Melons by Carol Ryrie Brink

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Set in the 1860s, Caddie Woodlawn is about a lively eleven-year-old tomboy named Caroline Augusta Woodlawn, nicknamed “Caddie”, living in the area of Dunnville, Wisconsin, and her experiences with her nearby native american cousins.She is troublesome and the despair of her ladylike mother and sister. The sequel to the book, Magical Melons (1939), continues the story of Caddie and her family. I find it hard to believe Carol Ryrie Brink’s children’s books are not better known: she is one of my favourite children’s authors. Homesteading and the children she writes about spring alive in these books.

Grandfather Symons’ Homestead Book by R D Symons

Grandfather Symons

Through drawings and stories from his own extended family,  Symons tells his grandchildren in this wonderful picture book what life was like throughout each month of the year for homesteaders on the Canadian prairies. Sadly out of print, it’s well worth looking for a second hand copy for the prints alone.

Clover and In the High Valley by Susan Coolidge (the fourth and final books in the What Katy Did series – free on Kindle!)

n176253Image from here

Clover and Phil go to Colorado so that he might recuperate in the mountain air. Their cousin Clarence lives nearby on his ranch and with him his partner Englishman Geoff Templestowe. In the High Valley continues the story, adding a brother and sister from England as the brother, Lionel Young, is set to join Geoff and Phil as a rancher. His sister, Imogen Young, has to be one of the hardest-to-like heroines in Young Adult fiction, but Coolidge soon has you caring about Imogen and willing her to adapt to her new life and find happiness in the Colorado wilds.

Nothing To Do But Stay and Prairie Cooks by Carrie Young


Nothing to Do but Stay is a daughter’s tribute to her pioneer mother. Carrine Gafkjen was a real heroine who traveled by herself to North Dakota in 1904, to stake a lonely claim and start a farm on 160 empty acres before she married and began her family. In Prairie Cooks, Young recalls recipes and stories of her mother’s (and other Norwegian American cooks’). Both books are warmly recommended for their warmth and humour.

9 thoughts on “Favourite Homesteading Books

  1. I loved frontier-era books when I was little. The libraries of my childhood were filled with books like that, most of which I’ve forgotten the names of; 90% of historical fiction for children in Canada seems to be frontier/homesteading stories. I still love Richmond P. Hobson’s trio of memoirs (beginning with Grass Beyond the Mountains), about ranchers in the interior of British Columbia during the 1930s.

    I had no idea about these later “What Katy Did” books! I will have to download them to my Kobo (and maybe revisit the earlier ones, too).

    • Don’t know the Hobson trio, but am now inspired to search them out = thank you. You’re in for a treat with the Coolidge – though not much about Katy they’re worth reading in their own right, I recently started with What Katy Did and read them all (including Curly Locks in Nine Little Goslings – free Kindle version as well) – lovely!

    • It’s fun Kristina! I think she’s wonderful – had forgotten about The Wedding Dress, but remember now I loved that one as well. I don’t know Mrs Mike but definitely my kind of thing so will have to give it a try. Thank you for the heads up! xx

    • I’m amazed at how enjoyable the Carol Ryrie Brinks are Thomas even all these years later. That’s the Stegner copy I have – think there’s another one on the newer Penguin version, but love that one too. Must read your book! How fabulous to have it finished now – well done you!

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