Because our images of the family farm tend to be stereotyped, out of date, shaped by the media or otherwise skewed, one special way to celebrate 2014 – International Year of Family Farming – is to focus on the very young, those urban tabulae rasae whose perceptions of the family farm are not yet formed.
With a child, even a very young child, stories can start the discussion that will shape their mental images. Reading to and with an impressionable child will have a powerful influence on that child’s understanding and appreciation of the heritage that we Minnesotans share a responsibility to preserve.
This list is random, subjective, intended to get a family member, friend or caregiver to think about reading to and with young readers about family farming as a time-honored profession. Celebrate the International Year of Family Farming by sharing a good read, maybe your own experience, with a youngster who’s poised to learn the facts, the stories and importance of the nation’s family farms.
Some possibilities to prime the pump –
Weidt, Maryann, Daddy played music for the cows. Memories of a young girl growing up on a family farm reflected in the songs her father played for the cows. A delightful read by a Minnesota writer.
Miller, Jane. Farm Alphabet – for babies and older children – uses photos to introduce the basics of things found on farms
Wolfman, Judy. Life on a Cattle Farm. Also Life on a Pig Farm, Life on a Goat Farm, and others by the same author.
Lobel, Anita. Hello, Day! Farm animals and the noises they make.
Murphy, Andy. Out and About at the Dairy Farm.
Flemming, Denise. Barnyard Banter. Lovely illustrations – watch for the wily goose.
Brown, Margaret Wise. Big Red Barn. How the animals spend their day.
Wellington, Monica. Apple Farmer Annie. Especially good for harvest time.
Dorros, Arthur. Radio Man/Don Radio. Bilingual story about a boy and his migrant family.
DeAngelis, Therese. The Ojibway: Wild Rice Gatherers. The story of American Indians’ discovery of wild rice, the “food that grows on the water.”
Smith, Joseph A. Mowing – a little girl helping her grandparents on the farm.
Purmell, Ann. Maple Syrup Season. The basics of collecting and boiling the sap, the making maple syrup.
Brown, Craig McFarland, Tractor. Some of the basics of how a small farmer plans, harvests and sells the fruits of his labor.
Wilder, Laura Ingalls, Jody Wheeler and Renee Graef. Winter on the Farm. Paging through brings back memories, not of the farm but of reading the book with the family.
Lewis, Kim. Little Puppy. One in a series of family farm books by Kim Lewis.
Root, Phyllis, Kiss the Cow. When the consequence of not doing so means no milk…
Runcie, Jill. Cock-a-doodle-doo. A delightful spin on an old story about depending on a rooster to sound the morning call.
Wolff, Ferida. It is the wind. Rhyming text that describes the thoughts of an African American boy awakened in the night by the sounds of the farm animals.
Philips, Mildred. And the cow said Moo! The bossy young cow tries to teach the other animals his language.
Most, Bernard. The cow that went oink. More about farm animal language differences.
Cleary, Beverley. The Hullabaloo ABC. Fun-loving kids enjoying a day on the farm.
Bradby, Marie. Once Upon a Farm. Every day work and life on the family farm.
Williams, Sue . I Went Walking. A young boy encounters all sorts of animals on his walk – what/who will come next?
Fredrickson, Gordon W. Fredrickson, who taught for many years in Minnesota schools, has published a series of farm stories that tell of his first-hand experience growing up on a family farm. One of Fredrickson’s books, What I Saw on the Farm, is illustrated by Bradley Simon, a New Prague teenager.
Last but definitely not least — Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type. Written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin. This recent (for me) discovery explains so much – any kid or adult who ever engaged in labor negotiations will get it!