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Exciting Cowboy and Cowgirl Books for Kids

Searching for the best children's books about cowboys and cowgirls?

Stories of cowboys, cowgirls, and the Wild, Wild West have long captivated the attention and imagination of young readers. From stories of sheriffs and outlaws to rodeos and cattle drives, nothing captures the excitement, danger, and adventure of life in the saddle like children’s books.

Here, we’ve rounded up a list of our favorite children’s books with cowgirls and cowboys in them. Some of these popular cowpoke characters might be familiar to you, while others might be new cowgirls and cowboys you’ll be glad to meet.

Our list includes board, picture, and chapter books. Our board books are best for the youngest ranch hands, from babies to toddlers. Our picture books offer stories of a cowgirl or cowboy’s life under the stars perfect for kids kindergarten through early elementary school age. Our chapter books include great western books for young rangers elementary through early middle school age. You can filter the list by book type or browse all types.

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Top 10 Books About Cowboys And Cowgirls

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

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!

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#2
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Armadillo Rodeo
Written & 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.

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#3
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Tuff, Sadie & the Wild West
Written by Mike Gleason & 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.

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#4
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Cowboy Cody
Written & 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.

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#5
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Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg
Written by Lori Mortensen & illustrated by Michael Allen Austin
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.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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!

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#6
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Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads
Written by Bob Shea & illustrated by Lane Smith
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.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

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#7
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B is for Buckaroo: A Cowboy Alphabet
Written by Louise Doak Whitney and Gleaves Whitney & 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!

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#8
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Cowboy Small
Written & 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.

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#9
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Texas Baby
Written by Jerome Pohlen & 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.

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#10
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Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse
Written by Rebecca Janni & 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.

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Table of Contents
Scroll to books about Cowboys And Cowgirls and...

Books About Cowboys And Cowgirls and Culture

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Armadillo Rodeo
Written & 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.

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The Gingerbread Cowboy
Written by Janet Squires & illustrated by Holly Berry
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“Giddyup, giddyup as fast as you can. You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!”

The Gingerbread Cowboy can run from the rancher, he can dash past the javelinas, and he can giddyup right by the cattle grazing on the mesa. But what happens when he meets a coyote sleeping in the sun?

Janet Squires and Holly Berry retell this classic tale with a Wild Western flair, filled with rodeo-romping fun.

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How I Spent My Summer Vacation
Written & 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.

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Honorable Mentions
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  1. The Mystery of the Wild West Bandit - 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!

  2. Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella - Once upon a time, there was a sweet cowgirl named Cindy Ellen, who lived with the orneriest stepmother west of the Mississippi and two stepsisters who were so nasty, they made rattlesnakes look nice! But when a fast-talkin’ fairy godmother teaches Cindy Ellen a little lesson about gumption, Cindy lassos first place at the rodeo and the heart of Joe Prince…. You may think you’ve heard the story before—but you’ll get a side-splittin’ bellyache after you’re through with this hilarious rendition told Wild West-style!

  3. Little Red Hot - Little Red Hot loves red hot chilli peppers. She eats them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When her grandmother catches a cold, Little Red makes her a hot pepper pie that will “knock those cold germs right out of her”. But before Little Red shares her pie with Grandma, she meets Señor Lobo. The pie comes in very handy when the wily wolf tries to trick her into thinking he’s her grandmother.

  4. V Is for Vittles: A Wild West Alphabet - From the creators of BabyLit®: V Is for Vittles: A Wild West Primeris part of a unique new series that opens a window on history while teaching toddlers the ABCs. Different eras of history—including the nineteenth-century American West, medieval Europe, and Victorian England—are brought to life by Greg Paprocki’s fun and enticing illustrations in this new series of board books for brilliant babies.

Want to see books about culture?

Books About Cowboys And Cowgirls and Farm Life And Ranch Life

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B is for Buckaroo: A Cowboy Alphabet
Written by Louise Doak Whitney and Gleaves Whitney & 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!

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$7.95
Bookshop
$6.76
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The Haymeadow
Written by Gary Paulsen & 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.

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Lexie the Word Wrangler
Written by Rebecca Van Slyke & 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.

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  1. Cowboy Camp - 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.

  2. We Are the Gardeners - Joanna and the kids chronicle the adventures of starting their own family garden. From failed endeavors, obstacles (bunnies that eat everything!), and lessons learned, the Gaines family shares how they grew a happy, successful garden. As it turns out, trying something new isn’t always easy, but the hardest work often yields the greatest reward.

  3. Hundred-Year Barn - Newbery Medal-winning author Patricia MacLachlan's poignant text and award-winning artist Kenard Pak's gentle and rustic illustrations paint the picture of a beautiful red barn and the people who call it home.

  4. Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog - The popular Hank the Cowdog series is based on the humorous antics of the canine Head of Ranch Security. In this first book, Hank and his little buddy, Drover, set out to solve a series of baffling murders on the ranch. Is Hank a suspect? An Outlaw? Can he clear his good name?

Books About Cowboys And Cowgirls and Horses

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Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse
Written by Rebecca Janni & 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.

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Leroy Ninker Saddles Up
Written by Kate DiCamillo & 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.

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The Lone Ranger
Written by Steffi Fletcher & 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.

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  1. Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: Partners - Saddle up, wranglers! Here comes the next installment in the adventures of Cowgirl Kate and her trusty cowhorse, Cocoa. The best friends are as feisty as ever as they play hide-and-seek, get new shoes, and learn the true meaning of friendship: They’re partners through thick and thin, and partners do <i>everything</i> together. <p/>With its lively text and spirited illustrations by Caldecott Honor recipient Betsy Lewin, this second book in the Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa series is sure to have young readers everywhere chomping at the bit for more. <br>

  2. Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: Horse in the House -

  3. School Days - In this new boot-stompin’ adventure, Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa are going to school. Well, Cowgirl Kate is going–horses are <i>not</i> allowed. Luckily, there’s plenty of time after school to make a new friend and have fun doing homework. One lesson Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa both learn . . . they’re best partners no matter what. <br> With its snappy text and sweet, silly illustrations, this third book in the Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa series is sure to rope in young cowhands everywhere. <br>

  4. A Cowgirl and Her Horse - A young cowgirl demonstrates her unique way of caring for her horse, from feeding him hay sandwiches to helping him pick out new shoes.

Want to see books about horses?

Books About Cowboys And Cowgirls and Rural Living

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Cowboy Small
Written & 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.

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Farm (Wheels at Work)
Written by Child's Play & illustrated by Cocoretto
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Collecting, lifting, transporting, and delivering! Lift the flap to see each vehicle busy at work. Perfect for guessing, prediction and memory skills - and simply joining in!

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Lorraine
Written by Ketch Secor & illustrated by Higgins Bond
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The songs they sang always lifted their spirits–on good days or bad it was joyful to hear it.And even when storms hit those Tennessee hills,the music they played made their worries stand still.Grammy Award-winning, founding member of Old Crow Medicine Show, Ketch Secor, and award-winning illustrator Higgins Bond bring an Americana fable to life in this bold, sweeping story. Pa Paw and Lorraine spend their days celebrating life with the music of the Tennessee hills. But when a fearsome storm rolls through, the two must rely on the power of music to get them through.

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  1. Farm - Collecting, lifting, transporting, and delivering! Lift the flap to see each vehicle busy at work. Perfect for guessing, prediction and memory skills - and simply joining in!

  2. Nerviest Girl in the World - A feisty girl from a family of ranchers lands a job as a daredevil stunt girl in the early days of silent film in this adventurous and funny cross between Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken and Ramona.

  3. Case of the Swirling Killer Tornado - This just in from the Emergency Weather Service: A tornado is headed straight for the ranch! And Hank and Drover are in the worst possible place–trapped inside the house. Can they find a way out–before they get blown away?

  4. Further Adventures of Hank the Cowdog - Hank is stricken with Eye-Crosserosis. To make matters worse, Beulah, the collie of his dreams, shows up on the ranch with Plato (at least Hank thinks it’s Plato). Although he can’t see very well, Hank approaches the visiting dogs with the idea of winning his lady love and dusting Plato’s spots once and for all.

Books About Cowboys And Cowgirls and Animals

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Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads
Written by Bob Shea & illustrated by Lane Smith
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.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

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I Wanna Be a Cowgirl
Written by Angela DiTerlizzi & 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.

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There Was a Coyote Who Swallowed a Flea
Written by Jennifer Ward & illustrated by Steve Gray
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

There was a coyote who swallowed a flea, plucked from his knee, that tickly flea. Yippee-o-Ki-Yee! Skinny ol’ Coyote delights readers of all ages as he swallows his way through this delicious southwestern-flavored retelling of a well-loved rhyme. As Coyote gets bigger, the story gets zanier as a bird, a bull, and even an entire cactus end up as dinner. It’s pure fun for everyone―even that little flea.

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  1. Henry Goes West - Henry the Duck takes a trip out to the Wild West where he finds himself up to his feathers in merry mis-adventure in this fresh and lively picture book from beloved author Robert Quackenbush! Henry the Duck sure gets himself into some sticky situations! When he finally goes out to the wild, wild West to visit his friend Clara, he finds out that he has another surprise waiting for him back home. Children and parents alike will love following disaster-prone Henry through his adventures in travel, cleverly written and illustrated by Robert Quackenbush.

  2. Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa - A Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor Book Hold on to your hats! Two new pals have arrived on the scene: Cowgirl Kate and her stubborn, but devoted cowhorse, Cocoa. Together they count the herd, ride the range, and, of course, argue till the cows come home–as only best friends can do. With its spirited text and bright, humorous illustrations by Caldecott Honor recipient Betsy Lewin, this first book in the Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa series is bound to be a hit with young wranglers everywhere. This title has been selected as a Common Core Text Exemplar (Grades 2-3, Stories)

  3. All the Animals Where I Live - The author used to live in the busy city where there were buses and trains, and people waiting for buses and trains. Now he lives in the country and jubilantly takes us on a tour of his home, pointing out all the animals that share his space. There are stuffed bears and quilted chickens. His dog Wednesday watches cranes, frogs, and dragonflies live their lives. Coyotes and chipmunks come and go, and the world around where he lives is full of life, until winter comes, and there is nothing but snow. Uniquely structured, All the Animals Where I Live is a picture book from Philip C. Stead, one of our most innovative author-illustrators, that is a meditation on life and moments big and small that shape our individual worlds.

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