On the farm

Christmas is tomorrow, even if it doesn’t feel like it with this abnormally warm weather. Are you done with your shopping and other preparations? Have a young reader on your list you still need to buy for?

Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) members have placed a high value on identifying great children’s literature that will interest young people in agriculture. For many years, OFBF has been honoring authors who create educational and accurate stories about agriculture that help inspire readers to learn more about agriculture and touch the readers’ lives, as well as tell the farmer’s story.

”The Beeman,” written by Laurie Krebs, is a recent recipient of the Ohio Farm Bureau Award for Children’s Literature.

Krebs is a retired elementary schoolteacher who introduces young readers to the way bees live and work, beekeepers and the pollination process. With rhyming text and warm, expressive paintings, this picture book takes the reader through a year of beekeeping from the point of view of a little girl helping her grandpa, who is known in town as the Beeman.

”How Did That Get In My Lunchbox? The Story of Food” is another great book and was a 2012 award winner.

This book connects children to the goodies in their lunchboxes by showing the effort and skill needed to produce foods such as bread, cheese, apple juice and chocolate chip cookies.

This brightly illustrated book is written for ages 5 to 8 reading level and grades kindergarten to second. Author Chris Butterworth introduces children to the concepts of natural, capital and human resources, often among the first set of economic concepts children are expected to learn in the primary grades.

Readers are also introduced to the basic food groups and given tips on healthful eating. Children can relate firsthand to these ideas when they think about the roles of farms, food-processing facilities and transportation networks in producing their lunchbox foods.

An author who has received the Ohio Farm Bureau Award for Children’s Literature more than once is Cris Peterson.

“SEED SOIL SUN: Earth’s Recipe for Food” highlights the process by which air and water combine with seed, soil and sun to create nearly all the food we eat.

“Extra Cheese Please! Journey from Cow to Pizza” is another of Chris’ award winners.

It is a fun story that introduces readers to a cow named Annabelle who gives birth to a calf and begins to produce milk. The amazing process of how milk and milk products reach the table of the reader is explained.

Petersen has also written other agricultural-related books: “Harvest Year,” “Fantastic Farm Machines” and “Amazing Grazing.”

“The Guardian Team: On the Job with Rena and Roo” by Cat Urbigkit was the recipient of the 2013 Ohio Farm Bureau Award for Children’s Literature.

Shepherds have used dogs to protect livestock for thousands of years. But burros also have a natural instinct to protect, which makes them perfect guardian animals, as well.

The book introduces children to a super dog-and-burro team at work on a sheep ranch in Wyoming. The animals have a close connection with the sheep that they protect, but it takes time and effort for Rena and Roo to grow to trust each other.

In this book, Urbigkit uses simple informative text and eye catching photographs to show how Rena and Roo develop into guardian animals.

Need more ideas? Try “Farmer George Plants a Nation” by Peggy Thomas; “Mini Milk Maids on the Moove” by Rianna and Sheridan Chaney; “The Apple Orchard Riddle” by Margaret McNamara; or “Sugarbush Spring” by Marsha Wilson Chall.

I hope you will share these books with the young readers in your life. And as you read together, enjoy learning about agriculture as much as I do.

Mary Smallsreed is a member of Trumbull County Farm Bureau.