Choose Your Western Adventure

Family Travel Friday

Wyoming scenery, Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Close

Destination: The American West

Children’s Book:Westward Expansion – An Interactive History Adventure  by Allison Lassieur

Review by Jennifer Close

(Like Matinee Wednesday, when Jane Boursaw talked about Western Films, Jennifer is bringing us a book related to the Western Road Trip currently running at A Traveler’s Library.We’ve visited Northern Arizona, Nevada, and North Dakota. Next week we’ll be in southern Arizona and New Mexico.)

When I was younger some of my favorite books to read were those books in which you chose your own reading path. The reader chooses which direction to take by answering questions and following the directions at the bottom of the page. The choices determines what happens to the character. I would spend hours reading the books over and over, each time choosing a different path to take.

Westward Expansion: An Interactive History Adventure  is part of the You Choose series. In this story, there are three paths and each of the events happened to real people. In Westward Expansion, the reader has a chance to be a traveler on the Oregon Trail, a Civil War veteran looking for work in the Wild West, and a Sioux warrior fighting to maintain his way of life.

Buffalo, Photo courtesy of Jennifer Close

The book begins with an introduction about the adventure. It explains how chapter one sets the scene and that the reader will follow the directions to create his or her historical adventure.

In Chapter One, the idea of Manifest Destiny is shared and the reader gets to choose if he or she is going to travel west as a settler, look for a job or fight for land as a Lakota warrior. The book is rich with historical facts, maps, photos, and drawings.

The last chapter of the book concludes the story with some more facts about the time period. There is a timeline of the major events that happened during Westward Expansion as well as further reading suggestions and Internet research links.

Display at Oregon Trail Interpretive Center
Display at Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Photo courtesy of Ken Badertscher


My favorite story was the traveler’s story because it takes place on the Oregon Trail. I remember attempting to arrive at the end of the Oregon Trail with all of my food, my health intact and more in the Oregon Trail computer game. I think my son preferred the story of the Sioux warrior. The book does talk about life and death. In one of the scenarios, we made a wrong choice very early on and our character was shot by a bullet. It did open up an interesting conversation between my son and I as to why the settlers did some the things that they did as they traveled west.





Photo of a wagon train, Oregon Trail
Photo of a wagon Train, display at Oregon Trail Interpretive Center

Westward Expansion: An Interactive History Adventure is a great book to read out aloud together as a family. Children and adults alike can learn more about the historical sites that one might see on a trip out west. Some of the spots mentioned in the book were Sutter’s Fort, the Snake River, Black Hills, and Fort Hall. It talked about the Battle of Bighorn, Chimney Rock and Independence Rock. Reading this book will only reinforce what settlers had to go through when your children see the Oregon Trail wagon ruts for themselves.

Other You Choose books include The Underground Railroad, The Alamo, and The California Gold Rush. The books in the You Choose series aren’t just about things that happened in American History. The series also includes titles like Life as a Viking, The Golden Age of Pirates, Ancient Greece, and more.

Jennifer and FamilyJennifer Close is a regular Contributor to A Traveler’s Library,on Family Travel Friday once a month. She shares her knowledge of children’s literature and experiences with family travel. You can follow her family’s travels at Two Kids and a Map.


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Photos are copyrighted and attributions are on each photo.


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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

3 thoughts on “Choose Your Western Adventure

  1. Seems like this book is much better for children than the Oregon Trail game where I always die of Dysentery. I much prefer sharing a fun book than dying of dysentery 😉 Wyoming is beautiful in its harshness and open space. I love it there.

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