There is a certain amount of truth to the stereotype that girls love horses. Since they may not each be able to have a horse of their own, this list of horse books should help fill the need for your horse-loving kids — from picture books to chapter books and middle grade books.
While many readers may still enjoy the classic horse stories such as Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, or The Black Stallion by Walter Farley, this list broadens the scope of what makes a great horse story. We have historical horses, magical horses, and even mythological flying horses.
I hope that somewhere in this list, your horse lover will discover a new favorite horse book.
Horse Books for Young Readers
If I Was a Horse by Sophie Blackall
Imagine if you were a horse! This child does — and imagines many wonderful adventures through a regular day as a horse instead of a kid. If they were a horse, they could wherever and give their sister a ride to school, and no one could make them take a bath. There are so many things to do if you were a horse! go
Ten Horse Farm by Robert Sabuda
Every page features statuesque horses on a farm. You’ll love the simplicity of text paired with evocative, earth-toned illustrations that literally pop. Enchanting.
Polonius the Pit Pony by Richard O’Neill, illustrated by Feronia Parker Thomas
A great story for animal lovers, this story is about a rescued horse who has always worked in a coal mine. Lucretia is from a family of Travelers and convinces her family to keep Polonius. Polonius loves the open air and finds a special way to repay his new family by leading their cart in the fog.
The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
This warrior Princess Pinecone’s parents don’t get her — they give her a kazillion cute sweaters and a cute pony instead of a horse. Pinecone and her pony watch for the right moment to join in a battle, but Otto the Awful runs straight at them…and stops to pet the cute pony. Soon, all the warriors are petting the pony. To help the warriors show their cuddly sides, Pinecone gifts them all her cozy sweaters.
Hello, Horse by Vivian French, illustrated by Catherine Rayner
Horse-loving kids will enjoy this book. It’s both informational and narrative, with a sweet story about a child meeting a friend’s horse and learning more about horses. The illustrations are gorgeous.
Big Wishes for Little Feat by Cheryl Olsten, illustrated by Paolo d’Altan
This is a longer picture book, but it’s worth it for the heart-warming story of a lonely little girl and a smaller horse who wanted his person. Ella moves to Belgium with her Aunt Anastasia, who gives her a horse named Lafitte. She calls him Little Feat because even though he’s little, he can do big things. The girl and horse are inseparable. In her dreams, they fly through the night sky.
The True Story of Zippy Chippy: The Little Horse That Couldn’t by Artie Bennett, illustrated by Dave Szalay
You’ll fall in love with this horse and trainer who persists in racing despite being terrible. Felix, Zippy’s owner, believes in Zippy, the rambunctious escape artist who loses 70 straight races. Felix tries everything to change Zippy’s luck, but nothing works. Interestingly enough, Zippy becomes a well-known, celebrated legend with a total of…100 losses! “Zippy showed us that you can lose and lose and lose and still be a winner.“
Inside Out Horse: The Inside Story on the Animal That’s Born to Run! by David George Gordon
Whoa. No pun intended. This nonfiction book is super cool. Information, photos, and diagrams about the horse’s system, training, breeds, and markings surround a three-dimensional paper horse’s inside — each page turn reveals another layer like the skeleton, muscles, and organs.
Horse Books for Kids Ages 6 – 8
Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa written by Erica Silverman, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
Kate works hard helping out on the family ranch. Cocoa does, too, but he often complains. Together, they make a great team! This beginning reader is the first book in the series featuring these two. Each book contains several short adventures that tie together with a theme. Young horse lovers will appreciate being able to read their own horse adventures. Recommended for kindergarten & up.
Bramble and Maggie: Horse Meets Girl written by Jessie Haas, illustrated by Alison Friend
This first book in the Bramble and Maggie series is a great transitional chapter book for horse lovers who are not quite ready for a longer novel. Maggie wants a pony more than anything and is getting herself ready by reading up on horse care. Bramble is tired of giving riding lessons and wants to be with just one person. Bramble is pretty picky about who her new owner should be. Maggie needs to prove that she will be a responsible horse owner. Ultimately, they find that they are a great fit. The other three books in the series continue their story. Recommended for grades 2 & up.
Horse Books for Tweens Ages 9 – 12
Paint the Wind by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Maya dreams about seeing the horses her parents loved, but she is stuck living under her grandmother’s tyrannical rules. When her grandmother passes, she is finally able to live with her mother’s family and the wild horses they are training. Once there, she begins to adapt to a completely different life. When she spots Artemisia, the wild mare that her mother once tamed and rode, Maya sets off to do the same. An expected earthquake has Maya fighting for survival and dependent on Artemisia to get to safety. Adding to the story are sections told from Artemisia’s perspective. Recommended for grades 4 & up.
The Georges and the Jewels written by Jane Smiley
This first book in the Horses of Oak Valley Ranch series, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jane Smiley, is set in rural California in the 1960s. Abby’s family trains horses to sell, they never keep them, no matter how much she wants. So that they don’t get too attached, her father insists that all of the mares are called Jewel and the geldings are called George. But Abby does get attached. Meanwhile, she is struggling with Ornery George who refuses to be tamed and also with a “mean girl” clique at school. Horse lovers will want to read the whole series. Recommended for grades 4 & up.
The Hungry Place written by Jessie Haas
Princess is a Connemara show pony, adored by her owner, who lives a life of luxury until her owner passes away unexpectedly, and her life takes a turn for the worse. Rae loves horses and longs for a pony of her own. The cost of a pony, plus care and feeding, are more than her family can manage. She doesn’t let that stop her from doing everything she can to make her dream come true. Told from both Rae’s and Princess’s points of view, this is a great update to classic horse stories like Black Beauty. Author Jessie Haas has many more fantastic horse books for readers who enjoy this one. Recommended for grades 4 & up.
The Princess and the Foal by Stacy Gregg
Inspired by the real-life story of Olympic equestrienne Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan, who lost her mother at a young age. This book tells the story of Princess Haya and her horse Bree who help each other heal and then go on to compete on the world stage. Although Haya certainly lives in a very privileged world, she shows inner strength and compassion as she pursues her dreams. Recommended for grades 4 & up.
Wild Girl written by Patricia Reilly Giff
Lidie is left behind with her aunt and uncle in Brazil when her father and brother move to New York to train racehorses. Lidia rides every day, becoming an excellent rider, while waiting to join them in New York. When she finally gets there, they think of her as the little girl they left behind and do not realize how much she has grown up and accomplished since they left. She struggles with fitting in, both at her school and in her new home. Things begin to change when the filly Wild Girl enters her life. Together, they work to find the place they belong. The chapters told from Wild Girl’s point of view add a great deal to the story. Recommended for grades 4 & up.
The Escape by Kathryn Lasky
Estrella is a filly born on the ship taking the horses from First Island to the Yucatan Peninsula in the early 1500s. When she and three other horses are thrown overboard to lighten the load, they must first swim to safety then make their way across an unknown land full of dangers. With a vision of tiny horses and the smell of sweet grass, Estrella leads her herd across North America in search of the land of first horses. This riveting adventure is the first book in the Horses of the Dawn series. Highly recommended for grades 5 & up.
The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd
Emmaline is at Briar Hill, the mansion turned hospital during WWII, fighting a lung disease she calls “stillwaters” (tuberculosis). After too many gray and bleak days, she discovers a secret. There are winged horses living in the mirrors. Only she can see them. After a particularly upsetting incident, she runs off and finds a hidden garden with one of the injured winged horses (Foxfire) inside it. It is here that she is given instructions from the Horse Lord on what she must do to protect Foxfire. This is a fabulous blend of historical fiction and magical realism. Recommended for grades 4 & up.
Pony written by R.J. Palacio
Pony is a deeply moving story set in western frontier times about a boy who, with a remarkable pony and ghostly best friend, sets off from home in pursuit of his kidnapped father. A group of counterfeiting bandits kidnaps Silas’s dad. Then, a mysterious Arabian horse “Pony” arrives to guide Silas through a haunted woods where he’s helped by a U.S. marshall who is also tracking the bandits. Things get complicated when the marshall and his horse are badly hurt. Silas must ride to the nearest town and convince the sheriff to gather a posse to rescue his dad and capture the bad guys. Ultimately, Pony is a story of courage, love, and the ties that bind us together, even after death. Recommended for grades 5 & up.
Ride On created by Faith Erin Hicks
Norrie loves horses and moves to a new stable where she initially doesn’t want any new friends. Eventually, she connects with new friends over common interests. It’s a beautifully knit-together, relatable graphic novel of friendship, horses, being yourself, and growing in confidence. Recommended for grades 4 & up.
The Flame of Olympus written by Kate O’Hearn
Does a Pegasus count as a horse? I think it should, especially in this book series. Emily finds an injured winged horse on the roof of her New York City apartment building during a thunderstorm. She and her friend Joel are immediately drawn into an adventure where they must help save Mount Olympus from the attack of the Nirads. Endorsed by Rick Riordan himself, give this to your readers who want Percy Jackson style adventures, but with horses. Recommended for grades 4 & up.