Southwest/Rodeo Books


With Rodeo Days fast approaching, it’s a great time to learn about the Southwest with your students. You can build their confidence by helping them realize how much they are already familiar with just from living here.

Clarence Goes Out West and Meets a Purple Horse
Written and illustrated by Jean Ekman Adams
Reading Seed Level: Beginning; Fountas & Pinnell Level: G; Interest Level: K-3rd grade

As the title suggests, Clarence, a little pig who lives in the city, takes a trip Out West where he sees his first cactus, lots of mountains, and lots of sky. He meets an old purple horse named Smoky at the ranch where he is staying. They have a lot of great times together until Clarence finds out that Smoky is going to be sold! No worries though, the story ends happily.

Relatively short and straightforward sentences will help your reader focus on the story. On a few of the pages you’ll want to guide your reader to which sentence to read next. Like most of our other southwest book choices, the illustrations are beautifully colored. The characters in this sweet story are cute and lovable, so we know you’ll enjoy the other adventures in this series.

Cowboy Small
Written and illustrated by Lois Lenski
Reading Seed Level: Beginning; Fountas & Pinnell Level: H; Interest Level: K-3rd grade

Get to know what life is like on a ranch in the Southwest with Cowboy Small. He’ll introduce you to his horse, Cactus, and show you what kind of work he does.

The front pages of this book are a wonderful resource to go over with your student before, during, and after you read. There are labeled illustrations and a glossary to help build your student’s vocabulary of cowboy terms. The layout of the book is predictable for young readers with the pattern of an entire white page with the text in the center followed by a page with an illustration. The sentence structures are simple, which will give you time to talk about and reinforce the vocabulary words that the student doesn’t know.

The Dirty Cowboy
By Amy Timberlake
Illustrated by Adam Rex
Reading Seed Level: Early; Fountas & Pinnell Level: J; Interest Level: K-3rd grade

How often DOES a cowboy take a bath? A question we have all asked ourselves from time to time no doubt. This hilarious book is an F & P level J, just right for those readers who are comfortable with around three long sentences per page, but still need lots of pictures to get them through the story.

We meet up with this cowboy just as he decides to take a bath in the river. He scrubs himself down, and when he finally gets out to get dressed, well let’s just say he doesn’t smell like himself. Then there is a showdown with one very tough looking pooch!

The illustrations by Adam Rex are so good! This being his first book, he really shows us what he’s made of. Adam Rex will be at this year’s Tucson Festival of Books showcasing the new book Chu’s Big Day by Neil Gaimen with illustrations by none other than Adam Rex. So if you like tales of cowboys and illustrations that are hilariously good, check this book out.

Don’t Call Me Pig! A Javelina Story
By Conrad J. Storad
Illustrated by Beth Neely and Don Rantz
Reading Seed Level: Early; Fountas & Pinnell Level: J; Interest Level: 3rd-6th grade

Who better to tell you about javelinas than an actual javelina? In this firsthand account, you will discover where javelinas got their name, what they look like, what they eat, where they live, and many other facts.

This book is for readers who are growing more independent. The rhyming can help make learning fun and also serve as a useful tool if your students come across a word they don’t know. There are a lot of humorous details in the illustrations, so give your students a chance to soak it all in. When you’re finished reading, ask your student some review questions to check what they learned about these misunderstood creatures of our desert.

Listen to the Desert
By Pat Mora
Illustrated by Francisco Mora
Reading Seed Level: Emerging; Fountas & Pinnell Level: C; Interest Level: K-2nd grade

What sound does the desert make? Well, this bilingual book by Pat Mora tells you exactly how it sounds in both English and Spanish. With its repetition and beautifully simple graphic illustrations, it made me realize just how diverse the desert can be. Next time I’m outside I’ll listen to the desert and remember this book!

By Alice McLerran
Illustrated by Barbara Cooney
Reading Seed Level: Early; Fountas & Pinnell Level: J; Interest Level: K-3rd grade

This book is a gem, it captures that magic of childhood where imagination takes over and suddenly you are in a bright and wonderful place no matter where you live. Roxaboxen was a real hill in Yuma many years ago where children played and let their imagination roam free. All the materials they had were rocks, crates, and broken glass on a hill in Yuma.

What a great conversation starter for a second or third grader. I don’t know about you, but I still love talking about the forts my friends and I used to make with the simplest of found objects. This could be a great read aloud for younger kids as well as a fun book to read for someone who can handle a paragraph per page with lots of great illustrations.

The Three Little Javelinas
By Susan Lowell
Illustrated by Jim Harris
Reading Seed Level: Early; Fountas & Pinnell Level: L; Interest Level: K-3rd grade

Did you know that javelinas are related to hippos? And that they live from the Southwest all the way down through South America? Well you will after reading this book! The front and back of the book give some interesting information about javelinas and how the story was written.

The plot of the story is The Three Little Pigs with some southwest spice. If your students are familiar with the original, it would be a great opportunity to do a compare and contrast activity. As in The Three Little Pigs, there are repetitive portions that could be your students’ part to read if the rest of the book is beyond their level.

Way Out West Lives a Coyote Named Frank
Written and illustrated by Jillian Lund
Reading Seed Level: Beginning; Fountas & Pinnel Level: H; Interest Level: K-3rd grade

Meet Frank and his friends and learn about life as a coyote in the Southwest. Your students will enjoy learning about where they live, and you can foster a personal connection for them by having them tell you about their experiences with coyotes, scorpions, or rattlesnakes, oh my!

The cool and colorful illustrations will help your student recognize that this story takes place where they live! The layout is predictable with the text in bold print on the bottom of each page. This book lends itself well to questions that check comprehension and vocabulary when you’re finished reading.

Frank makes learning about the Southwest fun!

Who Beats the Heat?
By Pamela Chanko
Illustrated by Daniel Moreton
Reading Seed Level: Emerging; Fountas & Pinnell Level: B; Interest Level: K-3rd grade

Who beats the heat? Desert animals do, that’s who!

This low level nonfiction gem will challenge your students who are just learning how to read. At an F & P level of B this book is 12 pages long with one sentence per page. It is repetitive, but also broadens your students’ horizons by introducing them to new animals and their names like peccaries and tortoises. Perfect for kids who are curious about the desert around them!