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The young Black equestrians of Saddle Up and Read (or SUAR) saddled up for their second annual Black History Month reading tour. Saddle Up and Read is a non-profit organization I founded with a mission to encourage youth to achieve literary excellence through equine activities. In 2019, our Saddle Up and Read literacy program visited over 20 classrooms and youth groups in North Carolina. Toting model horses and a stack of books, we read to children about African American cowboys and cowgirls.

Abriana Johnson, a volunteer and director of marketing, said, “Joining the Saddle Up and Read book tour with Caitlin Gooch, SUAR founder, was one of the highlights of my year. Being able to share stories of a history I am so passionate about was a profound experience. I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the various activities and sessions  put on by the schools. Each experience was unique and catered to the education level of the students. The SUAR reading tour is an amazing contribution to both the literary and Black horsemanship communities.” 

Saddle Up and Read Literacy Program

The tour became so popular last year it was extended into March. One week I visited two classrooms in one day and five classrooms in the week. We were being contacted by educators throughout North Carolina. Everyone wanted to know more about this aspect of history.

This year, SUAR took on a different approach to their reading tour, as they are in the midst of a fundraising campaign. In addition to visiting youth groups and classrooms in North Carolina and Virginia, we uploaded video book readings to our social media accounts. (You can follow us on our Facebook page for further information.)

To get you through the tail end of Black History Month, here is a list of 10 books featuring African American cowboys and cowgirls our non-profit reads on the tour:

1. Let Er’ Buck!: George Fletcher, the People’s Champion

Written by: Vaunda Micheaux Nelson / Illustrated by: Gordon C. James

2. Black Cowboy, Wild Horses

Written by: Julius Lester / Illustrated by: Jerry Pinkney

3. Cathy Williams, Buffalo Soldier

Written by: Sharon Soloman / Illustrated by: Doreen Lorenzetti


4. Bill Pickett: Rodeo-Ridin’ Cowboy

Written by: Andrea Davis Pinkney / Illustrated by: Brian Pinkney

5. Fearless Mary: Mary Fields, American Stagecoach Driver 

Written by: Tami Charles / Illustrated by: Claire Almon

6. The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby

Written by: Crystal Hubbard / Illustrated by: Robert McGuire

7. Scraps of Time: Away West

Written by: Patricia McKissack / Illustrated by: Gordon C. James

8. Cowgirl Camryn series

Written and Illustrated by: Abriana S. Johnson

9. Clip-Clop Chronicles series


Written by: Angelica Witherspoon-Cassanova

10. Justin and the Best Biscuits in the World

Written by: Mildred Pitts Walter

For this reading tour to remain a successful annual event, we will need continued community support. Help Saddle Up and Read reach their fundraising goal by contributing to our crowdfund.

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Visit Saddle Up and Read at saddleupandread.org, and email us with any questions at saddleupandread@gmail.com.