My oldest son fell in love with farms and farm animals when he was about four years old. Even though we’ve always lived in the city, he feels most at home in the country. Luckily, our home state of Indiana has a thriving agriculture industry, and we’ve had the opportunity to meet many farmers and visit many farms. Our whole family has learned so much about where our food comes from, but there are two big things that really stand out for me.
The first is that most people who farm for a living do not have what I call an “Old MacDonald-Style” farm. There isn’t a moo-moo here and an oink-oink there. Most farms focus on producing one thing. If you head to a pork producer’s farm, you won’t see many cows, but you’ll probably see hundreds of pigs! Farmers are specialists who have learned the ins and outs of their particular commodity, because it is their livelihood.
The second thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to go to the farmer’s market to get food raised on a family farm. The overwhelming majority of farms in the United States are family owned and operated. That means that the meat and dairy products you buy at the grocery store we raised by family farmers, some whose families have been farming for over a century. The food they grow is the same food they serve their families! No special trips required.
In light of what I’ve learned about modern farming, I’ve put together this list of books that paint an accurate picture of what agriculture looks like today. I hope they teach you as much as they’ve taught us!
10 Children’s Books About Farming and Agriculture
It’s Milking Time by Phyllis Alsdurf — A little girl works alongside her father to take care of the cows on their dairy farm. This book explains the journey of their milk from the cow to the store, and also shows how the work on a farm never stops. The animals must be cared for even on weekends and holidays. Check out our more in-depth review here.
Meet Pete by Jennifer Campbell — Pete was a special calf, and he needed someone special to take care of him. Emi Lou was just the girl for the job. Emi Lou tenderly cares for Pete day after day, spending hours in a barn on her family’s farm. In the process, the reader gets a peek into what life on a family farm is all about. Little animal lovers will adore this sweet book, written by a mom and family farmer.
How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? The Story of Food by Chris Butterworth — Every child enjoys digging into a tasty lunch, but not every child realizes how that food was made. This book follows the journey of several different types of food, showing the steps taken from growing to production to purchasing. The bright illustrations make this a fun read!
Milk: From Cow to Carton by Aliki — Aliki is one of our favorite non-fiction authors, and this book is one of the reasons why! This book moves “from green grass to white milk,” and shows the connection between what cows eat and the milk they produce. Your child will have a complete understanding of the work behind their glass of milk, and the journey it takes from the cow to the table.
Farming by Gail Gibbons — Gibbons is another one of our favorite non-fiction authors, and this book provides a straightforward look at life on a farm. This book is an excellent overview of farming season to season, with bright illustrations and simple sentences that early readers can handle with minimal help. Gibbons also has several books about specific animals and crops, including:
The Life and Times of Corn by Charles Micucci — You might know that corn grows on a cob and tastes delicious, but do you know all the things corn is used for in our country? This book is packed full of corn facts, and explores both the history and science behind growing corn, as well as the many uses of this marvelous grain.
Fall Harvests: Bringing in the Food by Martha E.H. Rustad — This bright and colorful read aloud focuses on the harvest season. Farmers reap the benefit of their hard work when they harvest their crops in the fall. This book is full of great information, but is easy and clear enough for early elementary students to understand.
Clarabelle: Making Milk and So Much More by Cris Peterson — Follow a day in the life of a real cow on a real dairy farm in Wisconsin! This book explores how Clarabelle is cared for, how her milk is collected, and how even her manure can be used for things like fertilizer and electricity. It’s a really excellent look at life on a modern family farm.
Farming: America at Work by Ann Love and Jane Drake — This book looks takes a closer look at farmers who raise cattle and farmers who raise vegetables. It clearly shows the work behind the food we eat, and helps children understand and appreciate the efforts that help put their dinner on the table. We enjoyed this book because it was factual without being dry and boring, a must for elementary-aged kids!
John Deere, That’s Who! by Tracy Nelson Maurer — You’ve probably heard the name John Deere, but did you know that John Deere was a real person? We loved learning more about this blacksmith who invented the steel plow and changed farming forever. His invention was the predecessor to the modern farming equipment used today.