Chicken-keeping is an activity that can include participants from the whole family, all the way down to the youngest of children. Kids become delighted by the home flock, and it connects them to their food in a way no other thing can. They’ll quickly take to feeding their charges, gathering eggs and performing regular—perhaps all too frequent—checks on the coop. Lean into your children’s excitement about raising chickens by introducing them to reading via books that features their feathered friends, as well.
Children’s literature has no shortage of books that feature chickens. While some books give kids an understanding of what’s involved in keeping chickens, others are just fun books with a hen or rooster as the lead character. Include a mix on your bookshelf, and have fun reading them with your children and sneaking in lessons about how to take care of your own coop. Here are some of my favorite children’s books featuring chickens to get your collection started.
1. “Sonya’s Chickens”
Written and Illustrated by Phoebe Wahl (Tundra Books, 2015)
If you are just beginning the chicken-keeping journey with your children, Sonya’s Chickens is ideal for your personal library. Through her whimsical illustrations and simply spun stories, Phoebe Wahl touches on deep and meaningful topics in a way that makes the tough parts of life relatable and comforting. The story starts with Sonya’s dad bringing home three chicks that are put in Sonya’s charge. It delves into the responsibilities of caring for the chickens, as well as the realities of our interconnectedness with nature and the circle of life, providing a positive way to talk about the sometimes harsh realities of keeping farm animals. This book won the 2015 Ezra Jack Keats Award for New Illustrator and the 2015 Sigurd E. Olsen Nature Writing Award.
2. “Interrupting Chicken”
Written and Illustrated by David Ezra Stein (Candlewick Press, 2011)
Young readers take a peek at the bedtime ritual of a rooster and his little chick in Interrupting Chicken, a hilarious and heartwarming story written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein. In one familiar tale after another, the small chicken interrupts her father—even though she promised not to—because she just can’t help saving the characters from their own silly plots. It will have your kids laughing, and you’ll be smirking at what might be an all-too-familiar situation in your own household. A Caldecott Award winner, this one is sure to become a bedtime favorite for your little chicks.
3. “The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County”
Written by Janice N. Harrington, Pictures by Shelley Jackson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007)
In The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County, mischief and wonder carry the young narrator and the elusive chicken, Miss Hen, who just doesn’t want to be captured by a chicken-chasing pro. Janice N. Harrington takes you back to her rural-Alabama roots by inviting you to step inside the mind of a child and her adventurous relationship with her grandma’s flock. Not only is this a good book to have on hand for the chicken-lovers of your household because of its vibrant collage images and lively, engaging poetry, it’s an excellent teaching tool for literary devices such as similes, voice and onomatopoeia.
4. “Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella”
Written and Illustrated by Jan Brett (G.P. Putnam Sons, 2013)
No one spins a fairy tale quite like Jan Brett, with her beautifully detailed illustrations taking children off to faraway places. In Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella, we’re transported to Russia, where the coop is a tower housing Cinderella and her bossy stepsisters, reminiscent of the architecture in the rural areas around St. Petersburg. But this is not just a Cinderella story with chickens as the characters. Because Brett is a chicken-keeper herself, she weaves appropriate chicken terminology into her story, so children learn terms such as pullet and Silkie while enjoying a fairy-tale classic. If you love this book, check out another one of Brett’s featuring chickens called Hedgie’s Surprise.
5. “Tillie Lays an Egg”
Written by Terry Golson, Photos by Ben Fink (Scholastic Press, 2009)
As a chicken keeper quickly learns, there’s always that one hen who does things her own way, laying eggs just about anywhere except for the nesting box. In Tillie Lays an Egg, an entertaining book of seek and find, Terry Golson takes you into the antics of her real-life flock and her hen Tillie, who rules the roost, so to speak. Follow Tillie around the homestead, as she gets into all sorts of mischief, from the kitchen to the laundry room. If your kids fall in love with this book, check out Golson’s live HenCam to see what the flock is up to today.
6. “Little Chick”
Written by Amy Hest, Illustrated by Anita Jeram (Candlewick Press, 2009)
In three sweet and simple tales about Little Chick and Old Auntie, Amy Hest highlights the importance of intergenerational relationships and accepting your identity as a “little chick” in a big world. This is a great book to curl up and read with your tiniest ones to ease them into a nap before heading out to explore what’s happening in the coop.
7. “Chicken in Space”
Written by Adam Lehrhaupt, Illustrated by Shahar Kober (Harper, 2016)
Zoey the chicken is the eternally optimistic and imaginative lead character in Chicken in Space, a story about friendship and adventure. Determined to make it from the barn to space, she enlists her pig friend, Sam, to join her in her scheme—who does so with hesitation and hopes that pie will be waiting for him at the end of the journey. Also check out Adam Lehrhaupt’s books featuring Zoey the chicken, including Chicken in School, Chicken in Mittens and Chicken on Vacation.
8. “Chicken Big”
Written and Illustrated by Keith Graves (Chronicle Books, 2010)
A hysterical twist on the classic story Chicken Little, Chicken Big is about an oversized chick born into a flock of goofy, not-so-bright chickens who imagine him to be all sorts of things that he is not. But despite the fact that they call him an elephant, an umbrella and a sweater, he offers them protection and wriggles his way into the much-too-small coop.