Horse books are a dime a dozen, but most don’t stay on the market long. Readership is limited, which is makes their shelf life short, especially in libraries. Many older horse books have become classics and will always be available. Others are written by well-known authors whose books will always be available as well. The rest…well…read them while you can.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
An easy classic for kids. This is the story of a horse’s fall from grace in the 1870s. Black Beauty begins his life on a fancy horse farm in England. He becomes a carriage and hunting horse for a family who cares for him well, but with each subsequent owner, he is treated poorly. Whipped to exhaustion, his health suffers. He retires to life as it began, but not without the reader shedding a few tears.
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
Joey is an ornery horse who is trained into compliance by a 15-year-old boy. His dad sells the horse to the British military during WW1. Joey performs with valor on the front lines, changing hands between the British and German armies twice. A chance encounter near the end of the war brings the horse and his beloved boy back together. Told from the horse’s perspective.
Riding Freedom by Pamela Munoz Ryan
Based on the true story of Charlotte Parkhurst who bucked tradition in the late 1800s to work with horses, a male profession. She ran away from an orphanage and cut her hair, then lived the rest of her life as a male so she could be a carriage driver. She is the first woman to vote, though under the guise of a male.
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
Though not a children’s book, advanced middle graders can handle it. It tells the true story of a race horse that captured the hearts of America during the Great Depression. Nothing about his appearance suggested greatness, but in 1938 he became the winningest horse in history. Though never winning one of the Triple Crown races, he beat the 1937 Triple Crown winner.
Storm Horse by Nick Garlick
Flip’s mother has disappeared and his father has died. He has no choice but to move in with his uncle on an island in the Netherlands. He never learned to swim, but the night a boat carrying a cargo of horses capsizes, he jumps in the water to rescue the only survivor. He and the horse form a bond, but the wealthy hotel owner wants both the horse and his uncle’s farm.
The Whole Sky by Heather Henson
It’s foaling season at the Kentucky thoroughbred farm where Sky and her father work. Together they care for the mares and help them birth the foals. It’s an unusually warm year. Tent worms are everywhere and being accidentally ingested by the horses. The first foal is stillborn. As more die, its apparent something is affecting all the breeding farms in Kentucky. Based on true events.
Canterwood Crest: Take the Reins by Jessica Burkhart (series)
Sasha and her horse, Charm, have been accepted at the exclusive Canterwood Crest Boarding School and its top-notch horse program. From the start, Heather and her posse are out to sabotage Sasha’s chances of making the elite jumping team. It’s a competitive sport and only the best will get a spot.
Free Rein: The Steeplechase Secret by Jeanette Lane (series)
Zoe’s family has returned to the British island her mom grew up on. She loves her horse, Raven, and her friends at Bright Fields Stables. A businessman has decided to reopen the once famous Grindlerock Steeplechase track and the Bright Field girls aren’t getting a good feeling about it. Mia is competing and someone wants her out of the race.
A Horse for Kate by Miralee Ferrell (series)
Kate’s not happy about moving, until she sees the horse barn that comes with the house. She wants nothing more than a horse of her own. Soon she and her new friend are mucking horse stalls in exchange for riding lessons and feeding the neglected horse across the street. If only she could rescue the horse for herself.