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Finding children’s books that not only accurately tell the story of American agriculture, but also foster agricultural literacy in youth can be challenging! There is nothing more frustrating than opening up book after book and seeing the same mid-century storybook portrayal of a family farm. While I am sure that was a beautiful time and believe it is an important part of our history, farming is very different now, and for good reasons! Every child deserves the privilege of understanding the foundation of where their food comes from. Below is a list of children’s books I have personally read that I feel provide an accurate story of agriculture for learners of all ages, but especially those ages 3-10. I am a firm believer in never being too old to appreciate a picture book. Let’s dive in!
Heartland by Diane Siebert
A heartwarming story about America’s heartland and the hands that feed a growing world. This book highlights the diversity of agriculture and the beauty of rural America.
It’s Milking Time by Phyllis Alsdurf
Minnesota author Phyllis Alsdurf beautifully captures the passion a dairy family has for their herds, both human and cattle. I’m not sure what is better, the story itself or the illustrations that go with it. Check it out and decide for yourself!
John Deere, That’s Who! by Tracy Nelson Maurer
A must read for John Deere fanatics young and old. Tracy Nelson Maurer shares the triumphs and setbacks John Deere faced in his early days before successfully inventing the . A great story for sparking conversation about engineering, the past, and the evolution of farm machinery. This one is on repeat at our home!
Can do Cow Kids by Amanda Radke
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South Dakota author Amanda Radke and Minnesota artist Michelle Weber share a heartfelt story of hardworking farm kids showing up to get the job done. Can do Cowkids inspires and educates while taking readers along to experience a day on the farm.
Harlem Grown by Tony Hillery
Based on a true story, Harlem Grown shares the story of converting a vacant space into an urban farm with the help of underprivileged school aged children. There is no greater opportunity than being able to experience growing food from seed to harvest.
Full of Beans: Henry Ford Grows a Car by Peggy Thomas
This was a favorite in my fifth grade classroom. This book is geared towards children ages 7-10, but I feel it is still a good fit for children young and old. This book shares the many ways that Henry Ford supported farmers through his ingenuity and forward thinking business endeavors. Full of Beans is an ode to the American soybean grower and highlights the many uses of soybeans. A must have!
From Wheat to Bread by Bridget Hoes
A great nonfiction book that shares the journey from wheat field to bread at the store.
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures by Temple Grandin
The story of Dr. Temple Gradin and how her journey with autism led her to be a groundbreaker in the agriculture, especially cattle, industry. An inspiring story for children of all ages.
Time for Cranberries by Lisl H. Detlefsen
Cranberries are so fascinating to me! As a lifelong Minnesota resident, I had no idea just how close to home cranberry farms are! It wasn’t until recently on social media that I began learning about how cranberries are grown and marketed! This book highlights the process of harvesting cranberries! Perfect for Thanksgiving or anytime of the year!
The Soil Quilt by Amanda Radke
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Healthy crops require healthy soil. Caring for the soil is one of the most important undertakings farmers take on. The Soil Quilt brings readers along for a journey towards an understanding of how to be good stewards of the land, whether living on a farm or not! I highly recommend all of Amanda’s Ag Storyteller books, they are fantastic and very relatable for our family.
From Milk to Cheese by Bridget Hoes
Another great nonfiction option highlighting the dairy industry! It is important to expose children to a combination of fiction and nonfiction texts as they develop as readers. This is another part of the ‘Who Made my Lunch’ series by Bridget Hoes.
Goodnight Tractor by Adam Gamble
A family favorite. This is a sweet bedtime story, especially for babies and toddlers. If reading before bedtime isn’t a habit you have formed within your household, I’d strongly encourage you to take small steps towards implementing.
If reading before bed overwhelms you because your kids always pick the LONGEST books ever I have a tip for you…move your books around! Those long books? Move them to the toy room or a living room space for daytime reading. Place bedtime approved books in a cute basket or on a display shelf in the bedroom so kids know what options they have to choose from at bedtime!
You’re doing great!
Thank you for inspiring not only a love of reading within your child, but helping them to foster an understanding of modern agriculture. This parenting gig isn’t easy, but it is always worth it. I hope you found some inspiration from this list. If you have any other agriculturally accurate children’s books to share, please list in the comments!
Thanks for being here.