As I look out at the snow, the slush and the bare trees, it makes me want to stay inside and read.  What about a list of books with an ag link to get you through the winter?  Instead of just looking at classic children’s books, lets examine some young adult reading material that can easily be read in a couple of days …

war horseWar Horse by Michael Morpurgo, (ISBN 978-0-439-79664)  First published in 1982 recounts the life and times of Joey, a farm horse thrust into the middle of World War I.  If you liked the movie, you’ll love the book!

Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen (ISBN 13-978-0152058807)  A modest PG-13 rating for some mild language and some ‘boy’ humor, this is a semi-autobiographical tale of a young city boy spending the summer with his aunt and uncle in post World War II Minnesota.  Laugh out loud funny!

My Louisiana Sky by Kimbely Willis Holt  (ISBN 13-978-0312660956)  Surviving life in a small town in central Louisiana in the 1950’s.  The biggest threat isn’t just the hurricane, but parents that are both mentally challenged.  Small town themed food, jobs and concerns show the importance of good work ethic and family. 

and now miguel….and now, Miguel by Joseph Krumgold (ISBN 13-78-0064401432) This 1954 Newberry Award Winner has stood the test of time.  Miguel Chavez is a shepherd and is torn between his passion for sheep, and his family.

The Year Money Grew on Trees by Aaron Hawkins.  (ISBN 13-978-0547577166)  Teenage cousins seemed to have struck gold by working on a rundown apple orchard.  Set in the mid 1980’s some of the 40-somethings will enjoy the cultural references of the kids that live in the country bur aren’t quite farmers….or ar they?

Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez (ISBN 13-978-0375851230)  This novel explains the role of immigrant labor from the perspective of small farm family in Vermont.   Winner of the Belpre Medal in 2010 this examines a timely topic in agriculture today.

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse  ( ISBN 13-978-0590371254)  This Newberry Award winner focuses on dust, dirt and the hard times of the Dust Bowl Era.

Seedfolks by Paul Fleishman  (ISBN13-978-05090511902)  Set in urban Cleveland, this story is about a vacant, run-down neighborhood that is transformed when one girl plans some lima beans.

a long way from ChicagoA Long Way from Chicago (ISBN 13-978-0141303529), A Year Down Yonder (ISBN -10-0142300705), and A Season of Gifts (ISBN 13-978-0142417294)  by Richard Peck.   While not a trilogy, these three books are closely linked with Mrs Dowdel.  Startling, hilarious and ever so true, Illinois Author Richard Peck sets these books in rural central Illinois.  I promise if you read them, you’ll pick out which neighbor is yours from the book….or are you one of the characters featured in the books?

These and many more books have a connection to agriculture and help us reinforce the message of agriculture in an ever changing world!   Take some time this winter and read a good book or two.

Daughtery_Kevin 2x2 10Kevin Daugherty

Kevin is the Education Director of the Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom program.  A voracious reader, he is currently reading The Rosie Project and Cubed: the History of the Workplace.  But he is always on the lookout for books with an ag connection!


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