All year I’ve been thinking about books to recommend in a holiday gift giving blog to follow up last year’s, 6 Great Books to Gift Kids. That list included most of my all-time favorites including Who Grew my Soup? and the Boy Who Changed the World. I thought it would be hard to come up with a new list of kid-appealing books to rival those. Well, was I wrong! I discover so many great books as I write lessons and look for resources to help connect classroom learning to agriculture. It seems like more and more books are just as entertaining and engaging as they are educational. Many of those in this year’s list weave fiction and non-fiction together to create stories that captivate kids while teaching about science, history, and the importance of agriculture.
Here are my top book picks for the youngsters on your Christmas list this year. They all have my approval for agriculture accuracy and educational value. More importantly, they received rave reviews from the two young book-critics in my house.
Good Night Farm by Adam Grumble is not only a good bedtime story, but also a great first lesson on where their food is grown. This beautifully illustrated board-book takes youngsters on a journey to see what happens on different types of farms throughout the day and in all four seasons. They visit a dairy farm, cranberry bog, wheat field and more.
The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen by Diana Prichard is a humorous tale about a little boy who learns where food comes from as he and his dad make breakfast. Finding a cow in the kitchen and chickens in the fridge is just the start of this silly story that will have kids laughing from beginning to end. The last page will make parents chuckle too as Patrick learns that the next day’s breakfast is bacon!
I Drive a Tractor by Sarah Bridges is perfect for a preschooler who loves wheels and motors! It is filled with rich vocabulary and details not found in most books about tractors for kids this young. The story follows farmer Dylan as he checks his tractor’s fluids and tires, uses mirrors and caution lights to safely drive the tractor on the road, and operates the tractor to do various jobs on the farm.
All in Just One Cookie by Susan E. Goodman will delight kids of any age. The grandkids are coming over and Grandma is in a rush to make cookies! While she bakes, her cat and dog travel the world to explore where the ingredients come from and how they are made. This book is a perfect gift from a grandma – especially one who likes to treat grandkids with cookies.
The Apple Orchard Riddle by Margaret McNamara and G. Brian Karas tells the story of a class trying to solve a riddle on a field trip to an apple orchard. During the visit they learn about apple varieties, see how apples are picked and sorted, and even watch as they are pressed and peeled by machines. The book also includes an important lesson – it’s okay to be different. The student who solves the riddle is not like her classmates, but she is also smart, inquisitive, and looks at the world differently.
Farmer George Plants a Nation by Peggy Thomas is a great pick for an older child on your list, especially one who loves history. This book goes beyond the typical account of George Washington’s life and accomplishments. It focuses on how he used innovation and creativity to solve problems and become a better farmer, all while being a great leader of our country. Follow this true story to see the role he played in agriculture then and his innovations that are still seen today.
Little Joe by Sandra Neil Wallace is a chapter book that will especially appeal to young boys. The story follows nine year-old Eli as he works to break his first show calf, make his father proud, and hopefully, win the blue ribbon at the fair. Eli learns about the fair treatment of animals, the genetics of his calf and making good decisions. Young readers will learn about life on the farm and some of the most difficult life lessons that have to be learned.
If you do any of your Christmas shopping on Amazon (and who doesn’t), a portion of what you spend can come back to support our agriculture literacy efforts in Iowa. It’s a win-win and no cost to you! Log on to Amazon Smile and select the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation as your charity of choice. Once you log in and link your account, Amazon will remember so you never have to do it again.
Happy shopping… and Merry Christmas to you and yours.