Keep reading for 20 amazing children’s books about Nebraska!
My husband is a truck driver, and we are very fortunate that his company not only allows our kids to go with him, but they actually encourage it! It’s a match made in homeschool heaven.
Both of my kids have taken epic west coast road trips from Wisconsin to Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and beyond. But to get to these states you have to go through Nebraska. Which my kids don’t actually mind because it means more screen time.
However, just because a state isn’t much to look at, doesn’t mean it has less to offer. That is why I love using living books in our homeschool. Living books, coined by Charlotte Mason, are books that make the subject you are studying come alive and are written by people who love the subject.
Using living books is such a fun way to learn about the states because learning about Nebraska is more than memorizing agricultural products. With living books you get an actual feel about what makes that state great!
This Nebraska book list contains non-fiction books as well as picture books and chapter books set in Nebraska. Let’s get to it!
ICYMI, click HERE for all the other state book lists!
Nebraska History and Facts
- Nebraska is nicknamed the Cornhusker State.
- Motto – Equality before the law
- Nebraska entered the Union on March 1, 1867. It was the 37th state.
- Nebraska’s name is based on an Indian word referring to the the Platte River which means “flat water.”
- Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States, was born on July 14, 1913 in Omaha, Nebraska.
- Lincoln is the capital of Nebraska.
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Descriptions come from Amazon; some are edited for length
Living Books about Nebraska
Nebraska Picture Books
“Arbor Day, Boys Town, and Kool-Aid® are just a few of the marks the Great Plains state of Nebraska has made on American culture. From the state’s eastern border along the Missouri River, where Lewis and Clark embarked on the Corps of Discovery expedition, to the towering geologic landmarks of the west, chronicled in pioneers’ journals, there are treasures to explore on each page of C is for Cornhusker: A Nebraska Alphabet.”
This series of books called Discover America State By State are some of my favorites for introducing a state to kids. Each letter states a fact or a thing about that state. For example, for Nebraska letter A is for Arbor Day and the letter B is for Bison and so on. Each letter comes with a four line rhyme about that respective letter’s fact or subject. What I love most is on the side of the page it gives more in-depth description about each subject. It’s a great jumping off point for what sparks an interest in your child!
“In Husker Numbers: A Nebraska Number Book, readers can step back in history and experience nineteenth century frontier army life at Fort Atkinson, count the many ancient petroglyphs at Indian Cave State Park, or even ‘regain’ their marbles at Lee’s Legendary Marbles museum in York. From the majestic natural landmark of Chimney Rock (a National Historic Site) to the 900,000 gallons of salt water in the Shark Tunnel at Henry Doorly Zoo, Nebraska has ‘countless’ treasures for all to enjoy.”
“Popcorn, tortillas, and . . . fuel for cars? Learn about all the surprising things we make from corn. Find out everything about this versatile and important grain: its history as a crop, the four main types, and how we grow and use it to make everything from food to paper to medicine! A cornucopia of information on this simple, significant grain. Dive into the history of its cultivation, the way it’s pollinated and grows, and the many ways we harvest and use it. Whether it’s in small family gardens or huge industrial fields, corn is a fascinating, versatile crop.”
“A little-known, fascinating story about Thomas Jefferson and his obsessive quest to find America’s first complete mastodon skeleton. In the late 1700’s, America was a new nation, with a vast west that held age-old secrets: Bones! Massive tusks and enormous animal skeletons were being discovered and Thomas Jefferson (politician AND scientist) was captivated. What were these giant beasts? Did they still roam on American soil? Jefferson needed to find out. Funding explorers, including the famed Lewis and Clark, Jefferson sought to find a complete prehistoric mastodon skeleton. One which would advance the young science of paleontology, but would also put this upstart young country on the world stage. Follow along on the incredible journey – full of triumphs and disappointments, discoveries and shipwrecks, ridicule and victory.”
“Nebraska is special in many ways. We’re right in the middle of the United States and we have a ‘panhandle.’ But Nebraska is also the only place in the United States that has a Unicameral. Learn all about how senators work together for the common good in The Unicameral and You!”
Children’s Books Set in Nebraska
“Elsie is a city girl. She loves the noise of the cobbled streets of Boston. But when her mother dies and her father moves them to the faraway prairies of Nebraska, Elsie hears only the silence, and she feels alone in the wide sea of grass. Her only comfort is her canary, Timmy Tune. But when Timmy flies out the window, Elsie is forced to run after him, into the tall grass of the prairie, where she’s finally able to hear the voice of the prairie, beautiful and noisy, and she begins to feel at home.”
“Embarking on a new life, Zoe and her family journey west to the Nebraska Territory in the 1800s. When Zoe and her family arrive at their claim, nothing distinguishes it from the miles and miles of surrounding prairie. Even after they build their soddie, the home can’t be seen from any distance. Zoe has never seen Papa so happy or Mama so sad. But when she takes a trip to the small prairie town with Papa, Zoe sees something that might make a difference to their new soddie, and to Mama’s life, too.”
“Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories have amused generations of children with their distinctly American fairy-tale flavor. In The Huckabuck family, which was from his first collection, Jonas Jonas, Mama Mama, and Pony Pony Huckabuck must pull up stakes when a fire starts and their enormous popcorn harvest pops them out of house and farm. After traveling to towns all over the country, where Jonas Jonas tries out very different occupations, the family finally receives a portent that it’s time to go home. This time they won’t be farming popcorn, however.”
“From Newberry Medalist Patricia MacLachlan comes a reassuring story about new beginnings and making friends. Nora and her family have just arrived from Russia and are making a new home on the American frontier. The prairie is very different from the forested hills Nora is used to. Most of all, it’s lonely. Papa has the cows he sings to as he milks them. Baby brother Milo has a dog to follow him wherever he goes. But Nora has no one and nothing to call her own until Papa brings home a dozen chicks and two geese. Nora names each one, and they follow her everywhere. Even to church! But what will happen when one of her beloved chicks goes missing?”
“When nine-year-old Sarah and her little sister, Annie, set out on their way to school on January 12, 1888, they have no idea what their day will hold. The weather’s so warm they go outside to play. Suddenly, the wind turns cold and begins to roar. It’s a blizzard! The wind is so strong it rips the school’s roof off. What will they do? The freezing snow is already up to their knees and without a roof they’ll freeze. Their teacher, Miss Freeman, ties them all together with a long rope and they head out into the blinding storm. Will they make it to safety in time?”
Chapter Books Set in Nebraska
“When a tornado watch is issued one Tuesday evening in June, twelve-year-old Dan Hatch and his best friend, Arthur, don’t think much of it. After all, tornado warnings are a way of life during the summer in Grand Island, Nebraska. But soon enough, the wind begins to howl, and the lights and telephone stop working. Then the emergency siren starts to wail. Dan, his baby brother, and Arthur have only seconds to get to the basement before the monstrous twister is on top of them. Little do they know that even if they do survive the storm, their ordeal will have only just begun…”
“Wandering through the Natural History Museum with her grandchildren, Julia Creath feels the presence of her dead brother, Daniel. She remembers a time when fossil fever hit everyone, old and young. A time when people would kill for those old bones under the ground. Julia becomes the Nebraska farm girl she once was, as she weaves together the story of the great dinosaur rush: an adventurous tale of love and treachery, but most of all the story of her own childhood, and of the older brother she loved more than anything.”
“Before the accident Nathaniel’s life seemed pretty good. His help around the farm made his father proud. But now, with a busted leg, Nathaniel can’t do farm work anymore, so his father adopts another son through the Orphan Train. Feeling replaced and useless, Nathaniel attends school for the first time. Meanwhile, sturdy and strong John is able to do the work that earns Pa’s attention. But the truth is, John Worth has his own set of troubles. He is treated more like a servant than a son. Kept awake at night by nightmares of his family’s death, he remembers having a pa who took pride in him. But now he has no one, until a community battle and a special book reveal a potential friend and a chance for understanding.”
“Ted Hammond loves a good mystery, and in the spring of his fifth-grade year, he’s working on a big one. How can his school in the little town of Plattsford stay open next year if there are going to be only five students? But the mystery that has Ted’s full attention at the moment is about that face, the face he sees in the upper window of the Andersons’ house as he rides past on his paper route. The Andersons moved away two years ago, and their old farmhouse is empty, boarded up tight. A shrinking school in a dying town. A face in the window of an empty house. At first these facts don’t seem to be related. But Ted Hammond learns that in a very small town, there’s no such thing as an isolated event. And the solution of one mystery is often the beginning of another.”
“Eleven-year-old Perry was born and raised by his mom at the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility in tiny Surprise, Nebraska. His mom is a resident on Cell Block C, and so far Warden Daugherty has made it possible for them to be together. That is, until a new district attorney discovers the truth, and Perry is removed from the facility and forced into a foster home. When Perry moves to the ‘outside’ world, he feels trapped. Desperate to be reunited with his mom, Perry goes on a quest for answers about her past crime. As he gets closer to the truth, he will discover that love makes people resilient no matter where they come from. But can he find a way to tell everyone what home truly means?”
“Abbie Mackenzie dreamed of becoming a fine lady like her aristocratic grandmother, devoting herself to music and art. But at eighteen Abbie found a different dream, turning away from the promise of a comfortable life as a doctor’s wife to marry handsome, quiet Will Deal. Together, they eagerly accepted the challenge of homesteading in Nebraska territory, where the prairies stretched as far as the eye could see, and only the strongest survived for long.”
“When a fierce blizzard suddenly kicks up on a mild winter day, a young Nebraska girl must find the courage and strength to lead others to safety.
When an intense Nebraska blizzard traps Anna, her schoolmates, and young teacher in the one-room schoolhouse, Anna knows they must escape before it is too late. Does she have the courage and strength to lead her school through the whiteout to safety?”
“It takes courage to leave a familiar town, a comfortable homestead, and personal belongings and old friends. It takes courage to live in a small wagon, traveling barely a hundred miles a week through Indian territory. But it takes a special out-of-the-ordinary courage to give up the dearest treasure of the heart. This is the story of Carolina Putnam, a New Hampshire girl who has to find out if she has the true spirit of a pioneer.”
In 1961, two years after the Communist revolution, Lucía Álvarez still leads a carefree life, dreaming of parties and her first crush. But when the soldiers come to her sleepy Cuban town, everything begins to change. Freedoms are stripped away. Neighbors disappear. And soon, Lucía’s parents make the heart-wrenching decision to send her and her little brother to the United States on their own. Suddenly plunked down in Nebraska with well-meaning strangers, Lucía struggles to adapt to a new country, a new language, a new way of life. But what of her old life? Will she ever see her home or her parents again? Based upon Operation Pedro Pan: an organized exodus of more than 14,000 unaccompanied children, whose parents sent them away to escape Fidel Castro’s revolution.
Young Adult Literature Book Set in Nebraska
“Stella Gordon’s life is a lie. She does not belong in Thunder Basin, Nebraska. As the star witness in a murder trial against a drug dealer, Stella is now in the Witness Protection Program. The small town locals can never know who she really is. Not even Chet Falconer, the one boy who makes her want to reveal her true self. She knows that telling the truth will only bring violence to this safe haven. Despite how hard Stella tries to stay under the radar, danger is fast approaching. Criminals have a way of getting rid of witnesses, and Stella may have made the one mistake that could lead the cold-blooded men hunting for her right to her doorstep.”
Books Set in Nebraska (for Mom!)
I love to read, and I love a good theme or challenge for a reading list. So my final two books on this book list are one adult fiction and one adult non-fiction.
Fiction Book Set in Nebraska
“In this symphonically powerful and magnificently observed novel, Cather created one of the most winning heroines in American fiction, a woman whose calm, undemonstrative strength and robust high spirits make her emblematic of the virtues Cather most admired in her country. Ántonia Shimerda is the daughter of Bohemian immigrant parents struggling with the oceanic loneliness of life on the Nebraska prairie. Through the eyes of Jim Burden, her tutor and disappointed admirer, we follow Ántonia from farm to town as she survives hardships both natural and human, from poverty to a failed romance and not only survives, but triumphs.”
Non-fiction Book Set In Nebraska
“During World War II, American soldiers from every city and walk of life rolled through North Platte, Nebraska, on troop trains en route to their ultimate destinations in Europe and the Pacific. The tiny town transformed its modest railroad depot into the North Platte Canteen. Every day of the year, every day of the war, the Canteen, staffed and funded entirely by local volunteers, was open from five a.m. until the last troop train of the day pulled away after midnight. Astonishingly, this remote plains community of only 12,000 people provided welcoming words, friendship, and baskets of food and treats to more than six million GIs by the time the war ended. In this poignant and heartwarming eyewitness history, based on interviews with North Platte residents and the soldiers who once passed through, Bob Greene tells a classic, lost-in-the-mists-of-time American story of a grateful country honoring its brave and dedicated sons.”
And there you have it! 20 living books about Nebraska. It is my hope that this book list provides you with JUST ONE book to share with your kids. We read Night of the Twisters during our state study, and if you enjoy adventure books, you will love it!
From the Missouri River to the corn fields, and from the great fossil hunt to the prairies, I hope you find some fun things to learn about Nebraska!
I have listed all the state book lists below. Make sure to check them out!
- New Jersey
- South Carolina
- New Hampshire
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- New Mexico