Whether your kids are heading off to school on the bus or starting homeschool at your dining room table, providing them new books are a great way to engage their minds. Here are some of my favorite farm-inspired titles that can teach your children more about agriculture and homestead life.
For younger children:
1. Ox-Cart Man
By Donald Hall and Illustrated By Barabara Cooney
This picture book follows the progress of a family on their farm throughout the year. Each activity on the farm is seasonal and everyone contributes: the son with his hand-carved birch brooms, the daughter with her knitted woolen mittens, and so on. The illustrations take you through the beauty of the New England seasons, as the cycles begin all over again with the new spring. I read this book all the time, whether or not my kids are around.
2. Amazing Maisy! Hatches An Egg
By Tim and Liz Young
Written by an actual farm couple, this is the second in a developing series of rhyming picture books that teach about the magic and work of farm life. With simple, lyrical text that keeps the story moving along, these books teach any kid about the fun of farm life while retaining accuracy. Can you guess what breed of hen goes broody and tries to hatch her egg? There’s a silly twist to the whole tale!
3. Seasons of Delight
By Tasha Tudor
I love anything by Tasha Tudor. What can I say? She’s divine, and every child should have her books read to them so that both parents and children delight in her extraordinary illustrations and take comfort in her cozy text. This pop-up book details a year on an old-fashioned farm and is suited to younger children. Other fun titles for farm kids are Pumpkin Moonshine, A Time to Keep and Around the Year.
By Gail Gibbons
Gibbons has a number of farming titles that might be of interest to your family. Check out Pigs, The Vegetables We Eat, The Honey Makers, From Seed to Plant and many more. Her simple text is always accompanied by quality illustrations, and the topic is thoroughly covered. These books are especially helpful when young children have book reports or projects to do.
5. Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm
By Alice and Martin Provensen
This is my absolute favorite farm book, dating clear back to my very urban childhood. It’s beautifully produced. The text is engaging and covers a number of animals in detail, as well as the tasks of their human stewards. The Provensens make the lives of the family and animals living at Maple Hill Farm so inviting that you as if you could just pop on over for a visit. Humorous yet realistic, this book makes a great gift for friends whenever I can find an excuse. There’s a companion title to this book, too: The Year at Maple Hill Farm. While shorter, this one is no less delightful.
6. Piggie Pie!
By Margie Palatini
OK, this book isn’t wildly educational, but it’s seriously funny. Follow Gritch the witch as she heads to Old MacDonald’s farm to get some piggies for piggy pie. Alerted to her nefarious plans by her smoky, sky-written message, “Surrender Piggies!” the pigs come up with various ways to trick the witch. If this book doesn’t make you chuckle, then nothing will.
For older children:
7. Laddie: A True Blue Story
By Gene Stratton Porter
This story about family, loyalty, honor and growing up all is set against the backdrop of a family farm. It begins slowly, but you’ll soon find yourself engaged with the stories of the people, the cadence of the times, and behind it all, the humming of the farm’s life.
8. Little House on the Prairie
By Laura Ingalls Wilder
Of course, this classic would be on the list! Read the whole series, for that matter. If you’ve attempted to read the first book but didn’t get past it, I encourage you to go ahead and read any of the books out of order. The first isn’t my favorite, either. Try By the Shores of Silver Lake or These Happy Golden Years instead. Because the series is historical fiction, there’s so much to learn about cooking, farming, crafting and just plain living in pioneer times. They’re also books to teach character building, as characters wade through love, loss, pain, joy and hard work. Countless craft books, educational supplements and even cookbooks have been created to complement this series.
9. Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers
By Ralph Moody
This is the first in a series of autobiographical books that details a family’s move from the East to Colorado to begin a ranching life. If you stepped into farming or homesteading via a completely different line of work or lifestyle, you’ll relate to this story of struggle and triumph. Really, the book is about building character through hard work, love of family and making mistakes—the ranch is just the perfect backdrop. This is a great book to read out loud.
10. Caddie Woodlawn
By Carol Ryrie Brink
Here’s a book for every tomboy out there! Follow the adventures of Caddie, who would rather be climbing a tree or working in the fields than bent over her sewing. Much like Little House, this book is based on the real life escapades of the author’s grandmother.
11. Thimble Summer
By Elizabeth Enright
I pretty much love anything that Enright has written, and this book doesn’t disappoint. Follow the adventures of Garnet and her family during an adventure-filled summer on their farm. The old-fashioned wisdom to be gleaned from this book is priceless. Plus, it has one of the most hilarious garden quotes ever written. After an endless day of picking green beans, Garnet and her mother walk into the kitchen exhausted, where Garnet’s mother exclaims, “Green beans just don’t know when to quit!” If you’ve ever spent a day—or 10!—picking green beans, you’ll know what she’s talking about.
Alright, hit me with it: What did I forget? Be sure to leave your favorite books in the comments below so that I can add them to my collection.