The Ultimate List of Books About Cowboys and Cowgirls

Updated Mar. 19, 2019

Stories of cowboys, cowgirls, and the Wild, Wild West have long captivated the attention and imagination of young readers. From tales of rodeos to sheriffs to cattle drives, we've compiled a list of our favorite stories that bring to life the excitement of the dusty, adventurous lives of cowgirls and cowboys.

Giddy Up, Li'l Buckaroos book
#1
Giddy Up, Li'l Buckaroos
Written by Mark Iacolina
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4
Thoughts from The Goodfather

This is a playful cowpoke tale for young readers. I enjoy Mark Iacolina's illustration style in this and his other books. The rhyming is well done as it depicts some typical activities for cowboys and girls.

Buckaroos ride. Buckaroos wrangle. Buckaroo's spurs go jingle jangle. This rollicking, rhyming board book will have young cowboys and girls eager to pull on their boots, put on their hats, and saddle up. With his trusty dog by his side, this little buckaroo goes riding through a rootin' tootin' day filled with action, fun, and even a first place prize!

Cowboy Small book
#2
Cowboy Small
Written and illustrated by Lois Lenski
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Cowboy Small takes good care of his horse, rides the range, helps in the roundup, and rides a bucking bronco, in a board-book adaptation of a long-time children's favorite.

Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads book
#3
Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads
Written by Bob Shea and illustrated by Lane Smith
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

The stark, stylized illustrations in this book fit perfectly with the old western theme of this classic cowboy tale... with a twist of dinosaurs. While the story is a little far-fetched (the thieves surrendering themselves because they want the credit for their bad deeds!) it's silly and fun and a fantastic premise for a children's book.

The Toad brothers are wreaking havoc in Drywater Gulch when a boy with no experience but immense knowledge of dinosaurs rides into town on his tortoise and declares himself the new sheriff.

Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg book
#4
Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg
Written by Lori Mortensen and illustrated by Michael Allen Austin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This cowboy thinks washing his dog will be a piece of cake, but he's in for a lot of chaos! The text in this book is consistent with the character, so it's not all grammatically correct, but it makes for some entertaining, out-loud reading.

Cowpoke Clyde’s house was completely clean—he’d even shooed off the horseflies: “Then right behind his cookin’ pot, / he spied one thing he’d plumb forgot: / ol’ Dawg, his faithful, snorin’ friend, / all caked with mud from end to end.” Needless to say, Dawg wakes up and runs. The chase that follows—with page-turn surprises—makes for a hilarious shaggy-dog story involving fleas, a hog, bribery, cats, deception, and a mule. The rhyming stanzas are pitch-perfect, Texas-style, and plumb near cry out to be read aloud. Austin’s expressive acrylic and colored-pencil caricatures of Cowpoke Clyde and his menagerie are priceless. A storytime shoo-in!

How I Spent My Summer Vacation book
#5
How I Spent My Summer Vacation
Written and illustrated by Mark Teague
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A schoolboy tell his class about his summer vacation, during which he joined a group of cowboys and stopped a cattle stampede.

Cowboy Camp book
#6
Cowboy Camp
Written by Tammi Sauer
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Although Avery cannot stand to eat the grub, is allergic to horses and gets rope burns from lassos, he learns at cowboy camp that he possesses the most important cowboy quality.

Armadillo Rodeo book
#7
Armadillo Rodeo
Written and illustrated by Jan Brett
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Bo, an adventurous, near-sighted armadillo, leaves his mother and brothers to follow a girl heading to a rodeo wearing new red boots which Bo mistakes for another armadillo.

Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse book
#8
Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse
Written by Rebecca Janni and illustrated by Lynne Avril
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Nellie Sue, who fancies herself a real cowgirl, wants a horse for her birthday, but she discovers that a brand new bicycle--her first--takes almost as much taming as a filly.

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up book
#9
Leroy Ninker Saddles Up
Written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Forging an instant bond with spaghetti-loving horse Maybelline, horseless cowboy Leroy Ninker inadverently risks eternal loneliness when he forgets a vital rule about Maybelline's care.

Cowboys and Cowgirls book
#10
Cowboys and Cowgirls
Written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

In words and pictures, this book captures all the excitement and adventure of the Wild West. Gibbons's colorful watercolors deftly recreate cowboys clothing, equipment, and lifestyle, and the lively text includes descriptions of famous cowboys and cowgirls, as well as historical facts. Full color.

The Haymeadow book
#11
The Haymeadow
Written by Gary Paulsen and illustrated by Ruth Wright Paulsen
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Fourteen-year-old John comes of age and gains self-reliance during the summer he spends up in the Wyoming mountains tending his father's herd of sheep.

Pancho Bandito and the Amarillo Armadillo book
#12
Pancho Bandito and the Amarillo Armadillo
Written by Mike Sundy and illustrated by Jonathan Sundy
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Pancho Bandito is a giant kid cowboy in the Old West who longs for his own horse. He travels to Texas to sell some cattle but runs into the greatest challenge he's ever faced: the monstrous Amarillo Armadillo. Can Pancho save Fort Worth from the beast and make a friend along the way?Pancho Bandito and the Amarillo Armadillo is a tall tale picture book set in the American Southwest. The playful language and gorgeous landscapes will please readers of all levels.

Tommy James the Littlest Cowboy in Reckon book
#13
Tommy James the Littlest Cowboy in Reckon
Written by Maria Ashworth and illustrated by Andrea Peixoto Emmerick
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Tommy James may be little but he knows how to wrangle in a bully like Bo Jones. A cowboy's story about wit and determination. Tommy James may be the littlest cowboy in Reckon' but he has the heart and determination of a giant. Bullied by Bo Jones, he quickly figures out how to get around this local cowboy. This is the first in the series.

Ghost Town at Sundown book
#14
Ghost Town at Sundown
Written by Mary Pope Osborne and illustrated by Sal Murdocca
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Their magic tree house takes Jack and Annie back to the Wild West, where they experience excitement and danger and try to solve a riddle.

Lexie the Word Wrangler book
#15
Lexie the Word Wrangler
Written by Rebecca Van Slyke and illustrated by Jessie Hartland
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

This clever celebration of words and their meanings features a strong cowgirl who wrangles words alongside cattle. Lexie is the best wrangler west of the Mississippi—word wrangler, that is. She watches over baby letters while they grow into words and ties shorter words together into longer ones; she herds words into sentences, hitches sentences together, and pens them all in to tell a story. But lately, something seems off at the ranch. First the d goes missing from her bandana, leaving her with a banana to tie around her neck, and soon afterward every S-T-A-R in the sky turns into R-A-T-S. There’s no doubt about it—there’s a word rustler causing this ruckus, and Lexie plans to track him down . . . even if it means riding her horse through the sticky icing of a desert that’s suddenly become a giant dessert. This fantastic spin on “cowboy” stories populates Lexie’s ranch with lively letters and words, alongside the typical cattle and horses, and stars a smart, confident, charismatic heroine. Rebecca Van Slyke’s creative, silly wordplay pairs perfectly with Jessie Hartland’s lively illustrations, and there’s even a glossary of helpful terms for up-and-coming word wranglers.

Texas Baby book
#16
Texas Baby
Written by Jerome Pohlen and illustrated by Violet Lemay
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-4

Babies from Texas show readers some of the distinctive things about the state where they live and play.

Cowpoke Clyde Rides the Range book
#17
Cowpoke Clyde Rides the Range
Written by Lori Mortensen and illustrated by Michael Allen Austin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Cowpoke Clyde is plumb confused. An ad in his favorite catalog says he oughta buy a bike. But why should he do that? After all, he’s got a horse. Still, a bike wouldn’t buck or bite, and he wouldn’t have to feed it. He orders one, and when it comes, he mounts up and sets right off, wibble-wobblin’ down the road. Good thing he’s got his trusty friend Dawg to look out for him. Turns out learning to ride a bike is just a tad bit harder than he thought! With its rip-roaring rhyming text and turn-the-page revelations, this book is pure read-aloud fun.

B is for Buckaroo: A Cowboy Alphabet book
#18
B is for Buckaroo: A Cowboy Alphabet
Written by Gleaves Whitney, Louise Doak Whitney and illustrated by Susan Guy
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

"L is for lariat or lasso, a loop of rope coiled just so. Swing it wide or swing it low. Hook those horns and yell whoa!" Hold on to your hat and strap on your spurs! Cowpokes and buckaroos of all ages will enjoy this A-Z gallop through the facts, feats, and folks of the cowboy way of life. Even greenhorns are invited to ride this fun-filled range!

Cowboys book
#19
Cowboys
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Depicts how cowboys lived in the Old West, describes their methods of raising cattle, and discusses their pastimes

The Mystery of the Wild West Bandit book
#20
The Mystery of the Wild West Bandit
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

The Aldens are at Wildcat Crossing, a recreated frontier town full of cowboy fun! But when horses disappear and other pranks threaten to ruin the Wild West show, the Boxcar Children must find out who's the varmint causing all the trouble!

Cowboy Cody book
#21
Cowboy Cody
Written and illustrated by Becky Wigemyr
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Cowboy Cody is western-themed children's book. Cody desperately wants to be a cowboy but there's just one problem. Cody lives in the city! Ride along as he discovers that with grit and determination, our wildest and woolliest dreams can come true.

Tuff, Sadie & the Wild West book
#22
Tuff, Sadie & the Wild West
Written by Mike Gleason and illustrated by Christine Harrison
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

The first in a series of illustrated children's books set in a magical wild west town.

The Lone Ranger book
#23
The Lone Ranger
Written by Steffi Fletcher and illustrated by E. Joseph Dreany
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

In this classic Little Golden Book from 1956, The Lone Ranger and Tonto help a young boy find his missing brother--and end up capturing a bunch of bandits! For little cowboys ages 2 to 6.

I Wanna Be a Cowgirl book
#24
I Wanna Be a Cowgirl
Written by Angela DiTerlizzi and illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A little girl imagines what her daily life would be like if she were a cowgirl, living out west on a ranch with cows and sheep, riding a horse, and sleeping under the stars.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected]!