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Mary on Horseback

post written by Emma Filbrun

Mary on Horseback, by Rosemary WellsTitle: Mary on Horseback
Author: Rosemary Wells
Major Themes: Mary Breckinridge, Appalachian Mountains, Kentucky, Nursing
Synopsis: Mary Breckinridge and her Frontier Nursing Service saved many lives in rural Kentucky.

I’ve enjoyed Mary on Horseback each time I’ve read it aloud—three times now. I’m not sure my 5-year-old understood it when I read it to him this week, but he always says he enjoys what I read. (I think he likes the attention, and he probably does get something out of it). Sonlight has this book scheduled into Core A, which is for kindergarten, but in my opinion, it should probably be for children a few years older.

Be that as it may, Mary Breckinridge, the founder of Frontier Nursing Service, is a fascinating character. After her two children, as well as her second husband, died, she made the decision to become a nurse so that other children would have a chance to live. She chose the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky in which to base her work, because that was the poorest region in America. Mary on Horseback tells three stories of the work the Frontier Nursing Service did. These stories tell about helping a man who was hurt running logs down a river, a family whose children had diphtheria, and a child whose mother died after the birth of twins.

Mary on Horseback is a good introduction to not only the Appalachian region, but also to nursing. It will help your child to learn to empathize more with hurting people around him.

No warnings!

Age Levels:

Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12


Links to buy Mary on Horseback:




Keywords: Appalachian Mountains, Kentucky, Mary Breckinridge, Nursing

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