American expansion into the West is an integral part of the history of the United States as a nation. From outlaws and lawmen to Native Americans, the history of the American West is filled with personal tales of struggle and accomplishment that helped make up the identity of the nation as a whole.
Thrilling fiction titles like The Son, The Orchardist, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Worthy Brown's Daughter bring the Wild West into startling view with tales of harsh ungoverned lands. These books paired with the non-fiction titles of To Hell on a Fast Horse, Astoria, Shot All To Hell and Chief Joseph give students a glimpse into a critical part of our nation's history.
Sample Discussion Questions:
Compare and contrast the imagined life of Jesse James in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford to the life of Jesse James presented in Shot All to Hell.
What impact did the outlaws from To Hell on a Fast Horse and Shot All to Hell have on American History?
How do the difficult living conditions in the West described in Astoria and Chief Joseph compare to the conditions described in The Son and The Orchardist?
Discuss the differences in the Nez Perce people described in Chief Joseph and the Comanche tribe Eli finds himself a part of in The Son.
What effects did the "lawlessness" of the West have on the early settlers? Use Worthy Brown's Daughter and To Hell on a Fast Horse to support your answers.
Compare Matthew Penny's journey to Oregon from Worthy Brown's Daughter in 1860 with the expedition taken by the men from Astoria in 1810.
What similarities can you draw between the characters in The Orchardist and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford?