Billy lives on a farm in the Ozarks. He wants two coonhounds very badly; however his papa cannot afford any. Billy works hard and eventually has enough money to buy two coonhounds. Billy trains his dogs to become highly-skilled raccoon hunters. The two dogs, Old Dan and Little Ann, are determined hunters and never let Billy down. Billy's grandfather enters Billy in a coon-hunting contest and they win. One night his dogs tree a mountain lion. Old Dan gets badly wounded and dies the next day. Billy is heartbroken, but Little Ann is so sad that she loses her will to live, and dies a few days later. Billy goes to visit the dogs' graves and finds a giant red fern. According to Indian Legend, only an angel can plant a red fern.
This is an excellent book to use in the classroom. Students of all ages would enjoy this book, because it shows the close bond that people share with their pets. This book teaches students many valuable lessons such as, friendship, love, loyalty, sacrificing, and coping with the hardship of losing loved ones. Where the Red Fern Grows would be interesting to students in 4th grade and above.