As we raise our children, it has become very clear that keeping them engaged is important. From the crying infant eagerly gazing out a window to the 3 year old begging to color with crayons, kids need to explore, see, hear, and experiment. They want nothing more than to learn about anything and everything. That’s why, multiple times every day, we make sure to share stories. While walking in the woods we craft yarns about squirrels and their families, riding in the car we recount memories of our own childhood to our kids, and, most of all, we read books.
We must have read thousands of books to our first daughter, and she’s only 3! Books play a prominent role in our everyday lives. There are books stored in every room of our house, usually overflowing on bookshelves and in special piles on the floor. Together, we devour books, and for our daughter there are never enough.
We do try to be selective and discriminating about the books we read because they become the basis for much of our daughter’s everyday play. Plus, we appreciate good stories, beautiful pictures and unique perspective in the books we choose to share with our family. We like to read books that we can enjoy too!
Below is a selection of our favorite books that take place on a farm, a theme we revisit regularly to encourage appreciation and involvement in our work on the land. We happily read these again and again to our kids. Since there are so many great and well known farm-themed books out there that you probably already know, we tried to pick out some of the special finds we’ve come across to share.
Tasha Tudor raised her family in rural NH, so it is natural that we identify with her work. This wonderful book goes through the seasons and treats us to the senses encountered along the way. And best of all, it takes place on a farm, with animals, chores, and wonderful foods to explore. It makes us long for the taste of maple syrup in the early spring and the smokey smell of that first warming fire in the fall. The colorful imagery is innocently cute and keeps our daughter studying the details.
Elsa Beskow is a fairly well known Swedish children’s book writer and illustrator from the early 20th century. Her books are now available in English and if you don’t know of them, take it from us… they are all delightful. The translations are sometimes a bit odd and the stories do not always fit the familiar mold, but the topics and characters are lovable, unique, and funny. Pelle’s New Suit is a great example, where one little boy wants to make a suit out of the wool he sheared off his very own lamb. But he needs help transforming that wool into a suit, from making the yarn to weaving cloth to finally sewing the suit. He weeds his grandmother’s carrot patch in exchange for her wool carding skills, he does some farm chores for the tailor, and on and on. We read this book several times a week and still love it, which says a lot!
The little narrator of this book has a unique voice that really speaks to a child. No fancy descriptive language here to bore or confuse. Instead we have a young person’s simple observations on the transition from winter to spring and the effects on his garden. The simplicity and smooth progression of the fun story combined with the wonderful images (which our daughter will study on her own for long stretches) make this book an easy and enjoyable exploration of one of the most exciting times of year on a farm.
This book, no longer in print, is a treat. Not only does it show kids how maple syrup is made, it offers an exciting mystery to solve when poor Mr. & Mrs. Mapleworth find their sap buckets empty. Even though our daughter knows the story quite well now, she is still excited when the mystery is solved. To really get into the book, you can make some sugar on snow just like the Mapleworths! Click here to learn how to make it.
This book is a bit on the long side for a 2-3 year old, but we find that our daughter happily sits through it without any fuss. Based on the true story of the author’s life, it recounts the farm chores that kids despise, but flips them to remember the positive aspects for each. Sure, pulling stones from a field is a lot of hard work, but while you’re outside you get to enjoy the wild birds swooping by singing wonderful songs. Winters are cold and there was a lot of snow to deal with, but it also enables fun activities like skiing on a barn roof! This book is great for instilling an appreciation for the hard work on a farm.