The best middle-grade books about brave kids and horses

Troon Harrison Author Of Cold Freedom
By Troon Harrison

The Books I Picked & Why

Riding Chance

By Christine Kendall

Riding Chance

Why this book?

What about inner city kids, can they enjoy a special bond with a horse? In Philadelphia, a very special, real stable offers disadvantaged kids the chance to hang with horses. This book is the fictional story of one such kid. Troy loses his way in the tough streets after his mom dies. When he is forced to work at the stables, he has the opportunity to save himself, through the fast and skillful sport of polo. I like that urban horses rock too! 


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Paint the Wind (Scholastic Gold)

By Pam Muñoz Ryan

Paint the Wind (Scholastic Gold)

Why this book?

This book contains two stories that intertwine: that of a girl who has lost her mother, and a mustang mare struggling to keep her foal safe. I like how the mare is portrayed as intelligent and brave, just as the girl is. Both living beings are important characters in the plot, which is wonderful. The prose is skillful and beautiful, and suits competent, older middle-grade readers who will be transported into the wild landscape. 


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Only My Horses Know

By Cinda Jo Bauman

Only My Horses Know

Why this book?

The healing power of horses is used nowadays in formal equine therapy, but young people have always known their horses could nurture them. I love this book because it shows how a horse can provide support in a situation as challenging and stigmatizing as the mental illness called bipolar. Horses provide a wonderful way for readers to come to terms with such a complex topic. I love the premise that horses help kids to cope with human difficulties. 


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The Secret Horses of Briar Hill

By Megan Shepherd

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill

Why this book?

I love horses and also fantasy; the chance to dream and let my imagination go at full gallop! This book contains both elements, as well as a WW II premise, and shares the mysterious happenings that unfold when a girl sees winged horses in the mirrors of a children’s hospital that was once the home of a princess. This story will appeal to all fantasy readers, with its emotional content and lovely illustrations. 


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Mustang: Wild Spirit of the West

By Marguerite Henry, Robert Lougheed

Mustang: Wild Spirit of the West

Why this book?

This true story was one of my favorites growing up, and I’ve read it many times. Annie is a polio survivor with a limp, but this doesn’t stop her from riding the range.  Neither does being a girl stop her from battling a terrible situation: the slaughter of mustangs. Annie risks her life to photograph mustang roundups and then takes the fight to the US government, finally getting a bill passed to prevent the inhumane treatment of wild horses. So inspiring!


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