You know how much I love books about farms. Even here where we farm every day, we’ve done a couple of farm studies. There are some things we don’t do. For instance, we’ve never had a milk cow. We spent a week last year milking the neighbor’s cow while they were on vacation, and it was a fun learning experience that left us with sore hands. (We had milk goats once upon a time, but cows are much harder to milk. At least, to us they were.) We don’t do a large crop field. Rather, we do smaller vegetable plots. We only have to feed ourselves. It feels a little late in life to start farming crops to sell. Sounds like a lot of work to me! So we still have stuff to learn about working a farm and what happens on different types of farms. I bet your littles do, too.
Farm studies can focus on animals, plants, soil care, so many things. I grew up reading good lit about living on farms (and even actually staying at my Aunt Darlene’s farm for a week in the summer–a memory that still makes me smile), and while I never really thought I would end up on a farm myself, I loved Dreaming about farms. So this is another one where I’ll try to behave and not overload you with suggestions. You know my first recommendation has to be
Charlotte’s Web by E B White
Ah, Fern. Wilbur. Charlotte. You might assume my love of spiders comes from this book, but this was actually the second story–the one that verified my love. The first was a story I read (or heard) in elementary school about a group of either 5 or 7 spiders who lived in an old woman’s house and helped her spin. When she cleaned their webs from her ceiling, they left her house and she lost her work. I have never been able to find this story again, and that’s all I remember of it. I’ve googled, I’ve asked everyone I know; no one but me remembers this tale. So if you do, please tell me its name in the comments so I can read it again. I loved that story. Anyway, Charlotte’s Web. It’s a great introduction to farm life for any little. While the story is about the pig, the farm is almost a character in itself because the setting is so prominent in this book. And who doesn’t love Wilbur? And You can’t write words with your rear end and no tools. So Charlotte is awesome.
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
Brown’s poetic ode to barns is a childhood favorite for a reason. We still have our copy from when the littles were small. I’m saving it for the grandchildren. If you have young littles who are interested in or studying farms, this lilting little book is the thing.
The Story of Ferdinand by Robert Lawson
O. M. G. This story is so sweet it’ll give you a toothache. It’s also an interesting way to show your littles that farms are basically the same the world over. It’s about a pacifist bull in Spain. He loves his favorite cork tree and the flowers that grow near it, and he just wants to hang out there and be peaceful. Lawson’s pen-and-ink drawings are miraculous and the happy ending will have your littles squealing. Quietly and contentedly. And peacefully.
Mystery Ranch (The Boxcar Children Mysteries #4) by Gertrude Chandler Warner
We own most of this series because Littlest is determined to be either a detective or a spy when he grows up. I hope I haven’t just blown his cover. Like all the Boxcar Children mysteries, this one is full of suspense, but it also has some pretty good descriptions of ranch life. And a ranch is, after all, just another type of farm.
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
This Little House book tells the story of Almanzo Wilder’s childhood on a big farm in New York state. Like all the Little House books, it could almost be a manual for rural life. This one would be great for any type of farm study.
A Blizzard Year by Gretel Ehrlich
We love this book. Another ranch tale, but with the twist of being set in a Wisconsin winter, when a blizzard means extra work to keep the livestock safe. Wow, did we learn a lot about living up north by reading this book. If you want your littles to look at farming from the other side of the year, this book is perfect.
The Year at Maple Hill Farm by Alice and Martin Provensen
As suggested by the title, this book goes through a year on a farm, from month to month, both showing and telling your littles what happens on the farm each month. I love the whole “animals don’t know there’s such a thing as a year. But they do know there are seasons.” Yeah Yeah. How awesome would it be to not measure time in minutes?
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
For ambitious littles, this classic is not only a good introduction to plantation life but to the south, slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. I have always loved Scarlett and her story, and the book is so different from the film that if you haven’t read it before, it will surprise you. Scarlett’s life was even richer than you suppose. As God is my witness.
I could go on and on. I am sure I’ve left out some childhood faves of my own and some picture books you’ll want to string me up for forgetting. If so, recommend them to my other readers in the comments. I can always use the help.
Day One: Donkeys Day Two: Summer Day Three: Water Day Four: Insects Day Five: Owls
Day Six: Bears Day Seven: Winter Day Eight: Poetry Day Nine: Squirrels & Rabbits Day Ten: Moon
Day Eleven: Autumn Day Twelve: Plants Day Thirteen: Camp Day Fourteen: Legends Day Fifteen: Mice
Day 16: Mythology