Christmas Idea: Farm Books for Kids!

My Generation

Looking for a few good books for the children on your Christmas list? Try some farm books! And we promise: no farmers in straw hats or bib overalls here.

Published on: December 7, 2012

Last winter, I wrote a column about some of the greater books for children, about the farm. Some of it was born of frustration; if I never see another inaccurate illustration of a corn plant, it will be too soon. Or of a "farmer" in bib overalls. And a straw hat. So very wrong.

But some of it was also born of my oldest daughter's recent infatuation with some really great books, like Little Joe. So I wrote a column, including a list of our favorites and those of Illinois Ag in the Classroom guru, Kevin Daugherty.

Then yesterday, a reader called looking for that very list, published last winter. She's a farm wife from northern Indiana, and she's shopping for her urban grandchildren.

And so it occurred to me - this would make a great Christmas shopping list!

So here 'tis. Click here for a link to the original story. And see below for the list of books, complete with links for purchase.

And above all, happy {farm book} shopping!



Clarabelle By Cris Peterson, who also authored Fantastic Farm Machines, Seed, Soil and Sun, and Amazing Grazing. You can’t go wrong with anything by Cris Peterson. And the photographs by my colleague, David Lundquist, are as beautiful and down to earth as you could expect. It looks like home to us.

Little Joe By Sandra Neil Wallace, this chapter book tells the tale of a young boy and his show calf.

The Beef Princess of Practical County By farmwife Michelle Houts, this tale of a strong female youth character deeply involved in agriculture is geared to 4-6 graders, and it’s next on Jenna’s list.

Levi's Lost Calf By South Dakota rancher and freelance writer Amanda Radke, it tells the story of a young boy on the ranch and his work to find a lost calf, and it features artwork by a Minnesota farmwife.

Oh, Say Can You Seed? By Bonnie Worth, it’s a picture book that tracks seed to plant.

Pig 05049 Author Christien Meindertsma follows a single pig and shows in photographs all that pork produces, from ham to paintbrushes. (A note: the Amazon link shows it's available for $59. I'm not sure why it's so expensive, though I'd also add, it's more of a coffee table book than a children's book.)

Farmer George Plants a Nation By Peggy Thomas, this one is a look at George Washington’s farming enterprises.

Corn, Pigs & Pork and Soybeans Three different titles, all by Minnesota Ag in the Classroom veterans Susan Anderson and JoAnne Buggey. I couldn't find Corn online, but maybe you'll be able to.

The Heart of a ShepherdBy Rosanne Perry, this one is geared to upper elementary readers to adults.

Who Grew My Soup? A lovely picture book by Tom Darbyshire, this one tells the tale of a young boy who demands to know who grew his soup.

The Super Soybean By Raymond Bial, it’s a tale of the many uses of soybeans. Also check out his A Handful of Dirt and Cornbelt Harvest.

The Hungry Planet Author Peter Menzel offers up a look at what a week’s worth of groceries looks like around the world

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  1. buy social signals of says:

    Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the images aren't loading correctly. I'm not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I've tried it in two different browsers and both show the same results.

  2. Lester Johnson says:

    Holly, I read almost all of your columns and enjoy them very much but I must (good naturedly) take exception to this one about the books. I am a full time farmer and I wear bib overalls. I fail to see how a farmer portrayed in bib overalls is a problem. Thank you and keep up the good work.

    • Lester, I don't think the bib overalls themselves is the problem but what I have noticed when farmers are illustrated in many children's books, is that in addition to the overalls, they are shown with straw hats and maybe straw in their mouth and often are not portrayed as very smart - perhaps they "need the help of the heroine" to find their lost chickens, or whatever. In my mind, it's not the overalls that's the problem per say (my father in law wears them, too!), but it's the image that book illustrators typically convey with the overalls. It's one of the reasons why I love the Cris Peterson books with photography by David Lundquist; he's a farm magazine photographer, too, so his photos are of real people on the farm, and are not subject to an illustrator's imaginations. I'm reminded of a trip to our adopted classroom in Chicago a few years back, when the kids were absolutely shocked to see the "farmers" in suits and not bibs/straw hats. It became very clear to me then that the image they were seeing in children's books had become very entrenched in their thought process!