7 Best Western Books For Young Adults

by ThoughtLab Marketing on July 29, 2021

Western books are increasingly popular among today’s teens and young adults, and for good reason. Western books for young adults contain so much more than just traditional Old West storytelling (though there’s plenty of that too!), they are packed with justice, fights, adventure, wise lessons, and romance.

Today’s authors are setting western novels in new locations, not just in the western US, but rather in future dystopian societies or eras of time gone by. While western books are great for young adults and teens of all reading levels and genders, the action-packed tales often appeal to male readers, which is great for getting you (or your kid) to put down the video game and pick up a book.

Whether you’re looking for classic old west books, a story with a fantastical edge, or western romance novel, there’s a bestselling western book out there for you. From historical frontier literature to contemporary reads, get started on your old west journey with this helpful list of the 7 best western books for young adults to read.

Our Top Recommendations for The Best Western Books For Teens

#1 - Woman of Courage By Wanda E. Brunstetter

Women of courage book

This exciting historical western romance novel comes from New York TImes bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter. In this thrilling book, the readers are taken on a three-thousand mile journey with heroine Amanda Pearson as she leaves the disgrace of a broken engagement and enters the work of a Quaker mission in the western wilds.

The trip is fraught with danger, and Amanda is near death before reaching her destination. Among those she meets are an Indian woman who becomes her first convert and a half-Indian trapper who seems to be her biggest critic. But it’s love that follows her into the wilderness and will determine the course of her future.

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#2 - Wagons West: Brigham Young and the First Pioneer

Wagons West book

How much do our kids really know about the pioneers? As children they sing songs and hear stories of handcart pioneers, but do they think all the pioneers came West together and stood with Brigham Young when he declared, "This is the right place"?

In Wagons West, the engaging story of the Saints who were driven from Nauvoo, took the difficult trek to Winter Quarters, and were the first company to arrive in the Salt Lake Valley comes to life for children and young adults. Carefully researched and beautifully written, each chapter tells a unique story.

As a whole, the narrative reveals not only the heroics and faith but also the emotions, tensions, and humor of the pioneers like never before. With engaging images that bring the story to life, Wagons West is a great read for adults and children alike.

Buy Wagons West >

#3 - The Last Picture Show By Larry McMurtry

Last Picture Show book

Best for older teens, The Last Picture Show, which was made into the 1971 oscar-winning film, is a rambunctious coming-of-age story and elegy to a forlorn Texas town. It tells the tale of a group of young boys trying to grow up while simultaneously immortalizing the lives of the hardscrabble residents who are threatened by the inexorable forces of the modern world. Both moving and slightly shocking, this Texas-set drama is an enduring read.

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#4 - A Texas Hill Country Christmas By William W. Johnstone

Texas Hill Book

This rollicking yuletide adventure is written by one of the greatest western writers of the 21st century. This year, the Jensen family is in for a stormy Christmas they will never forget, and one deadly showdown they may never survive.

While most folks are busy preparing for Christmas, the tight knit Jensen clan can only hope they'll make it home. Luke Jensen is in San Antonio tracking down a dangerous outlaw but when he finds the man leading a wholesome life, as a charity-working Hill Country pastor, Luke agrees to wait until after Christmas to bring him to justice.

Meanwhile, Ace Jensen falls head over heels in love with a girl he wants to marry. Unfortunately, she's engaged to one of the outlaw gangs that's gunning for Luke's bounty. Filled with gunfights, outlaws, and romance, A Texas Hill Country Christmas is a story you’ll love all year round.

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#5 - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer By Mark Twain

Adventures of Tom Sawyer book

While not exactly a western novel by definition, this 1876 novel is a timeless classic that fits the bill for adventure. The enduring story follows a young boy growing up along the Mississippi River living a life full of wonder and possibility. With memorable characters and colorfully descriptive text, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer remains a time-honored classic among children and adults alike.

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#6 - Frontier Grit: The Unlikely True Stories of Daring Pioneer Women

Frontier Grit book

A great read for young women, Frontier Grit is a fascinating peek into a world of pioneer women which we don’t often see. It tells the stories of twelve women who settled the west and came from all points of the globe to begin their journey.

These are gripping miniature dramas of good-hearted women, selfless providers, courageous immigrants and migrants, and women with skills too innumerable to list. Many were crusaders for social justice and women's rights.

All endured hardships, overcame obstacles, broke barriers, and changed the world. The author ties the stories of these pioneer women to the experiences of women today with the hope that they will be inspired to live boldly and bravely and to fill their own lives with vision, faith, and fortitude. To live with grit.

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#7 - Winchester 1887 by William W. Johnstone

Winchester book

Another great novel by iconic bestselling western writer William W. Johnstone, this story is packed with action and adventure, just like many of the classic old west tales. It begins with a boy in Texas waiting for a Christmas present he chose from a Montgomery Ward catalog. The present, a brand new lever action Winchester 1886 and a box of its big .50-caliber slugs, never makes it there.
Instead, the rifle is caught up in a train robbery and starts a long and violent journey of its own, from the hands of a notorious, kill-crazy outlaw to an Apache renegade, to a hardscrabble rancher and beyond. But while the prized Winchester is wandering the West-Deputy U.S. Marshal Jimmy Mann is hunting for the outlaw who robbed the train in Texas.

Buy Winchester 1887 >

#8 - Bonus: Western Books For The Younger Reader

Exploring the Pioneer Trail: A Flashlight Discovery Book

Let’s not forget about the younger readers! This interactive book brings to life the stories and struggles of Utah pioneers. Shine a light behind the pages and be dazzled as hidden images appear before your eyes.

Children and adults of all ages will be delighted to illuminate the pages to see what the pioneers bring along, what dangers lurk along their trail, who is making that eerie noise at night, and much more! All you need is the book, your family and anything that shines a light—even a cell phone!

Buy Exploring the Pioneer Trail > 

Enjoy More Favorite Old Western Books

At Marissa’s Books, we pride ourselves on curating an extensive collection of western books for every type of reader and skill level. From classic old west books and western romance novels to inspiring nonfiction reads and children’s books about the frontier, discover our range of the best western books for kids, adults, and teens online today.

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