By Robin Radlauer-Cramer
Crystal Pointe Media, Inc.
This book could be read to the class before your unit (or by students), as it describes the Rancho period, prior to the Gold Rush).
José’s story is set in the rich setting of a Southern California Rancho while California was still part of a newly independent Mexico. Eleven-year-old José dreams of being a vaquero, a cowboy. However, he must first conquer his fears by facing the injustices of his era, animal cruelty, wild animals and the vindictive young vaquero, Chaco.
by Pam Muñoz Ryan
In this fast-paced, courageous, and inspiring story, readers adventure with Charlotte Parkhurst as she first finds work as a stable hand, becomes a famous stage-coach driver (performing brave feats and outwitting bandits), finds love as a woman but later resumes her identity as a man after the loss of a baby and the tragic death of her husband, and ultimately settles out west on the farm she’d dreamed of having since childhood. It wasn’t until after her death that anyone discovered she was a woman. You can’t lose with Pam Muñoz Ryan, right?
By Karen Cushman
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
In 1849 a twelve-year-old girl who calls herself Lucy is distraught when her mother moves the family from Massachusetts to a small California mining town. There Lucy helps run a boarding house and looks for comfort in books while trying to find a way to return “home.” Perfect for students who can’t get enough reading, and want more pertinent to the period!
By Jim Rawls
Relates how a series of letters, written by a woman known as Dame Shirley and published in a San Francisco magazine in 1854 and 1855, were instrumental in inciting the California gold rush.
By Joan Holub
Grosset & Dunlap
In 1848, gold was discovered in California, attracting over 300,000 people from all over the world, some who struck it rich and many more who didn’t. Hear the stories about the gold-seeking “forty-niners!” With black-and white illustrations and sixteen pages of photos, a nugget from history is brought to life!
By Verla Kay
In a brief rhyming story set during the gold rush, Jasper leaves his family and farm for California to pursue his dream of finding gold, but discovers that panning for gold is dirty, backbreaking work. Fun!
By Mel Friedman
Would you brave blizzards, starvation, unknown territories, and Indians to build a better life for yourself and your family? Journey west with America’s pioneers on foot, on horseback, and in covered wagons-from the Mississippi River to the Oregon Trail-in these true stories of courage and survival that shaped our nation.
By Rosalyn Schanzer
National Geographic Society
The author of How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark uses folk-art style illustrations and eyewitness excerpts from letters, journals, and newspaper articles to relate the story of the California Gold Rush of 1848. 15,000 first printing. BOMC.
By David Domeniconi
Sleeping Bear Press
This is David’s first children’s book and it contains 40 pages of entertaining and educational facts about California. David captures California on so many fronts – its natural history, social sciences, inventors, and even its forty-niners.
By Don Brown
Roaring Brook Press
When James Marshall found a small, soft, shiny stone in a California stream, he knew it could only be one thing: gold! His cry of discovery would be heard around the world. In the third installment of Don Brown’s Actual Times series, Gold! Gold from the American River! is the story of the California gold rush―the uncharted journey across hostile land, the laborious process of panning for gold, the success of savvy entrepreneurs, and the fortunes of the marginalized, from slaves and American Indians to women and foreigners.
By Linda Jacobs Altman
Lee and Low Books Inc.
During the California Gold Rush Rosabel, an African American, and Sophie, a Jew, team up and search for gold to buy Rosabel’s mother her freedom from a slave catcher. A picture book with beautiful illustrations (a personal favorite)!
(Shall we learn more ourselves, at an adult reading level?!)
A Study Guide by Naomi Gross
Learning Links Inc.
This is a reproducible guide to use (if you feel you need it) in conjunction with the novel. It includes vocabulary for each chapter students – especially if you use some interactive activities with the vocabulary!
By Jo Ann Levy
Archon Books (1990)
If you are feeling like you would like to know more about the women in the Gold Rush period, and the extent of their participation, this is an interesting read.
By Julie Danneberg
Told in a unique first-person creative nonfiction narrative, Women Writers of the West profiles five women driven to write and succeed at a time when ambition in women was viewed as a flaw, not an asset–Helen Hunt Jackson, Jessie Benton Fremont, Louise Clappe, Mary Hallock Foote, Gertrude Bonnin.
By Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi
The first-ever account of the struggle to develop and protect rights in the Golden State. This book captures the sweeping story of how freedom and equality have grown in California, from the gold rush right up to the precarious post-9/11 era. The book tells the stories of the brave individuals who have stood up for their rights in the face of social hostility, physical violence, economic hardship, and political stonewalling.
(Winner of the Gold Medal in the 2010 California Book Awards)