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“I love to run with the wild horses. They are my relatives. If you let me go back to them I shall be happy evermore,” the girl said. –The Girl Who Loved Horses
The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses
by Paul Goble
AR Test, Picture Book, Teaches About Culture
5 – 8
The Girl Who Loves Horses is a Navajo folktale about a plains girl who loves horses. During a storm, the horses become frightened. The girl grabbed a horse’s mane and jumped on its back. The horses galloped until the storm disappeared. But when the horses stopped, the girl knew they were lost. Despite this, the girl is happy living with the horses.
After a year, some hunters see the girl and the horses. They try to catch them. When the girl’s horse stumbles, the hunters catch the girl and take her home. Both the girl and the horses are sad because they miss each other. In the end, the girl returns to live with the horses. “Once again the girl rode beside the spotted stallion. They were proud and happy together. But she did not forget her people. Each year she would come back.”
The Girl Who Loved Horses was awarded the Caldecott Medal to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. The illustrations highlight the relationship between nature and the Native Americans. Goble creates beautiful images using rich, earth-toned colors. The illustrations use intricate details that include flora and fauna. Plus, the detailed pictures will help young readers understand the story and highlight the girl’s love of horses.
Even though The Girl Who Loved Horses is a picture book, the story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for the child to read it for the first time independently. Each page has 4 to 9 complex sentences. Because some of the pages are text-heavy and have advanced vocabulary, younger readers may have a hard time getting through the story.
The girl’s story reinforces the idea that humanity and nature are connected. While the story may be difficult for younger readers to understand, parents and teachers can use the story to discuss the importance of protecting the earth. The Girl Who Loved Horses would be an excellent book for readers who want to learn more about Native American culture and their love of horses.
Drugs and Alcohol
- When the hunters could not find the girl, they believed “the girl had surely become one of the wild horses at last.”