Books for Young Readers

Allen, John Logan. Jedediah Smith and the Mountain Men of the American West. New York: Chelsea House, 1991. A good read best suited for ages 12-17.

Allen, Merritt Parmelee. The Sun Trail. New York: Longmans, Green, 1943. Jed’s story narrated by one of his companions, Bob Evans; a highly embellished account appropriate for young readers.

Anderson, A(nita). M(elva). Fur Trappers of the Old West: Jim Bridger, Tom Fitzgerald, Jed Smith, Bill and Milton Sublette. (1946). New York: Harper and Row, 1961. With all the flavor of a dime novel, Anderson narrates Jed’s courageous ride for help after the Arikara attack. The wildly fabricated dialogue then moves the reader from one exciting exploit to another in this book obviously intended for elementary school readers (and a few old ones, too). Online at www.HathiTrust.

Blassingame, Wyatt, and Richard Glendinning. Men Who Opened the West. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1966. A chapter on Jed in this book for juvenile readers.

Burt, Olive Woolley. Jed Smith, Young Western Explorer. Childhood of Famous Americans Series. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1963. Jed’s boyhood and his penchant for exploration become the stuff of this historical fiction for young readers. Burt enhances her story with illustrations, a map, reading suggestions, and a vocabulary list. A student and teacher friendly book.

Burt, Olive Woolley. Jedediah Smith, Fur Trapper of the Old West. New York: Julian Mesner, 1951. A thrilling tale, with historical depth, of Jed from 1822 until his death in 1831. Historical fiction mainly for junior high and high school readers. Includes illustrations and a thorough bibliography.

Burt, Olive Woolley. Young Jed Smith, Westering Boy. Childhood of Famous Americans Series 82. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1954. A fanciful tale written for young readers in the upper-elementary grades. This work of historical fiction contains absorbing dialogue and exciting adventures.

Daugherty, James. Trappers and Traders of the Far West. Landmark Book Series. New York: Random House, 1952. A historical novel for adolescents. Accurate in most respects.

Decker, Peter. (pseud.) Beyond a Big Mountain. New York: Hastings House, 1959. This historical novel for juveniles deals with the 1823 adventures of the Ashley men.

Wilcox, Desmond. Ten Who Dared. A Time-Life Television Book. Boston: Little, Brown: 1977. Based on the television series, originally on BBC-TV. Contains a section on Jed’s exploits. For young readers mainly.

Evarts, Hal G. Jedediah Smith, Trailblazer of the West. New York: Putnam, 1958. Jed’s story for a secondary school audience. Events are reasonably accurate.

Hebard, Grace Raymond. The Pathbreakers from River to Ocean: Story of Great West from the Time of Coronado to the Present. Chicago: Lakeside Press, 1912. Chapter 2 examines the fur trade, including the Astorians, Ashley, Smith, et al., and the international political context. Accessible to young readers. Well written and researched.

Jones, Charlotte F. Westward Ho! Eleven Explorers of the West. New York: Holiday House, 2005. An award-winning book for readers in grades 5-10. The cast includes Robert Gray, George Vancouver, Alexander Mackenzie, John Colter, Zebulon Pike, Stephen Long, Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith (16 pages), Joseph Walker, John C. Fremont, and John Wesley Powell. Some inaccuracies mar this book but should not prevent a general understanding of these famous explorers. Includes illustrations, maps, a timeline, notes, a bibliography, and an index.

Latham, Frank. Jed Smith, Trailblazer of the West.  Rev. Edited by Michael J. McHugh. Arlington Heights, Illinois: Christian Liberty Press, 2007. Historical fiction. Jed’s adventures with an emphasis onhis religious qualities. Probably for readers 9-14 years old.

Lawrence, Fred. Jed Smith: Freedom River. Wayne, Pennsylvania: Miles Standish Press, 1981. Young Jed Smith joins the fur trade and up the Missouri he goes!

Laycock, George. “Jed Smith the Pathfinder.” Boys Life 77, no. 8 (Aug. 1987): 22-25. Although this tale is a mixture of history and fancy, a young reader (and maybe an old one or two) would find it exhilarating. Accompanied by two illustrations: one of an attentive bear, another of Jed standing by sausages stuffed with buffalo intestines. Yum!

Maynard, Charles W. Jedediah Smith: Mountain Man of the West. New York: PowerKids Press, 2003. For juvenile readers.

Melbo, Irving R. Our America: A Textbook for Elementary School History and Social Studies. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1937. A readable and generally accurate account of Jed’s life receives an entire chapter, 88-101. Melbo takes some liberties with dialogue to create interest for his young readers.

Miller, Helen Markley. Jedediah Smith on the Far Frontier. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1971. Illustrated with maps and an index, this biography for upper-elementary students contains many illustrations, a map, and an index. Part of the Putnam American Hero and Pioneer Biography series, the text is written in a high interest manner without dates to encumber the narrative.

Nelson, Sharlene and Ted. Jedediah Smith. New York: Watts Library, 2004. A wonderful factual book for young readers. It covers every stage of Jed’s career in the West in a clear, readable style, and it provides a timeline, glossary, and lists of books, videos, and relevant organizations. Strongly recommended for school classrooms and libraries.

Roberts, Margaret. Pioneer California—Tales of Explorers, Indians and Settlers. San Louis Obispo, California: Padre Productions, 1982. An introductory history mainly.

Shapiro, Irwin. Golden Book of California from the Days of the Spanish Explorers to the Present. New York: Golden Press, 1961. See the chapter titled “Over the Mountains: Blazing the Trail to California.” Colorful illustrations and maps. Includes Jed.

Stefoff, Rebecca. Accidental Explorers: Surprises and Side Trips in the History of Discovery. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. The author discusses the role of chance in discovery, with Jed as one of her examples. A generally well-researched and interesting look at explorers’ various motivations during the Age of Exploration.

“Tomahawk Trail: Story of Jedediah Smith . . . man of God who helped open the West.” Sunday Pix: A David C. Cook Weekly (April 13, 1958). Reprint, Castor Canadensis (Summer 2020): 7-13. This illustrated story for young readers begins with Jed reading the Bible and then professing his faith. It also shows Jed et al. on a keelboat as they near a Ree village, hoping to pass without encountering trouble. In another panel Jed informs Ashley of his desire to explore west of Salt Lake to California. Clyman and others agree to accompany Jed. Another companion named Jackson is soon too dehydrated to continue, but Jed finds water in time to save him. Refreshed, the party continues the journey, but then “without a moment’s notice” a grizzly attacks!

Vogt, Esther Loewen. God’s Mountain Man: The Story of Jedediah Strong Smith. 25th Anniversary Edition. Springfield, Missouri: Gospel Publishing House, 2018. Juvenile, religious, historical fiction.

Walker, Paul Robert. True Tales of the Wild West. Washington, DC: National Geographic Children’s Books, 2002. For readers 10 and up. Jed’s desert wanderings included.

Weil, Ann. Great Adventurers. Chicago: Raintree, 2007. Jed’s in good company here alongside Susan Butcher, Amelia Earhart, Howard Hughes, and Liv Arneson! For juvenile readers.

Weston, May Forth. The Great Pathfinder, The Story of Jedediah Smith. New York: R. M. McBride, 1944. A biography young readers may enjoy.

Wilcox, Desmond. Ten Who Dared. A Time-Life Television Book. Boston: Little, Brown: 1977. Based on the television series, originally on BBC-TV. Contains a section on Jed’s exploits.