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Pick Up a Good Book

At our house, we love books. But we are picky. Books have to be good. Really good.

What makes a good picture book?

Here are three questions to ask about farm books (and most books):

1. Can you learn facts and enjoy yourself by just looking at the pictures?

If it’s true for you, it will be for your kids, too.

Usborne's "1001 Things to Spot on the Farm"

The pictures need to be beautiful and realistic. Even ‘cartoony’ drawings will lean either toward silly or sensible.

A page from "Baby Animals" by Margaret Wise Brown

With all the millions of books in the world, we can take the time to select gorgeous images for our kids to memorize.

"Moses the Kitten" by James Herriot

Every child with a bookish upbringing will have many illustrations imprinted in their brain for a lifetime.

There are some exceptions where the writing is captivating enough to overcome any weakness in the pictures.

You can even learn math in one of our favourite farm books "Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm".

2. Are the words interesting but simple enough to be read over and over?

The writing must have merit, with a broad, accurate vocabulary, an interesting story and language that flows well enough to be read 100 times without being tiresome.

"Cow" by Malachy Doyle with riveting prose and wonderful artwork.

3. Is it real?

Life is too short to read nonsense.

Toddlers deserve these kind of sensible books, too.

When the books are about farming, the bar is set even higher, since each book will impress a child with how farms work and where food comes from. Does the book present information about real life farms and are the facts accurate? Does a cow act like an animal really would, or is it personified? Animals have emotions and thoughts that are very different from humans. Charlotte’s Web is certainly a favourite early read-aloud, but not for this list!

We have a book list of our 30 favourite farm picture books that check all the boxes on this list. Every one of them is in our home library and has been thoroughly vetted by the experts at our house (farmers and farm kids). The list goes out to teachers who book a field trip and will be included in our March newsletter, so sign up for our email list below.

Happy reading!

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