As a new parent, I knew how important reading to my kiddo is. It was a favorite pastime of both my husband and I growing up, so we wanted to make that a part of our nightly routine. When it came time for the baby shower, we asked for books instead of cards (highly recommended). Being a farm family, we received many books that were rooted with stories on the farm. However, I quickly noticed these stories were not always accurate.
How do we expect future generations to understand agriculture if the first books they are introduced to have incorrect elements? And it becomes even more of a problem when these kids get older and read on their own and comprehend more of what’s in front of them.
For example, one book states, “These little kernels are ready to be planted in the ground by our tractor. Our tractor can plant thousands of kernels for us.”
Mind you, this book had expensive green paint on the front cover, not just some random writer or publisher. The picture of the tractor “planting” the corn had no actual planter in sight. So while yes, the tractor pulls the planter, it is not actually planting the seeds. It might seem like a small thing to someone not involved in farming, but inaccuracies like that really make a difference.
In another example, a friend showed me a book in which a cow was referred to as “him” throughout — something sure to make any livestock producer wince.
Children — and adults — need to know all of the effort that goes into providing food, fiber, and fuel for our country, including the multiple pieces of equipment that are used and how animals factor into the industry.
» Related reading: 30 great farm books for grown-ups
It is vital to be able to represent agriculture in the most arcuate way. Although that book is just one example, there are many others out there. A major part of agriculture advocacy starts with the correct terminology, imagery, and the overall message of the industry.
On top of accuracy, it is important for farm books to highlight safety and positive portrayals of agriculture. With these insights into the agriculture industry through children’s books, we are able to spark that initial passion and interest in children.
How to find accurate farm books for kids
The first step in finding a correct book on agriculture is looking! If at all possible, read the book before you buy it. Be sure that it is accurate in its teaching and drawings. Reading books with your children can ensure that you are there enforcing the correct teachings.
In addition to pre-reading your books, check with your local Farm Bureau. They often have resources and access to accurate agriculture information. For example, the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture’s publishing venture, Feeding Mind Press, publishes books for children of all ages. By publishing accurate and engaging books about agriculture, readers are able to connect where their food comes from and who grows it. The most recent books include Tales of the Dairy Godmother: Chuck’s Ice Cream Wish, My Family’s Soybean Farm, and Hero For The Hungry: The Life & Work of Norman Borlaug.
Even though we cannot control everything our children hear, see, or read, we can work to ensure that the books we give them are accurate and relevant. It is never too early to start teaching our children the importance of the agriculture industry and ensure the correct message is conveyed.