Skip to main content

Oklahoma Agriculture in the Classroom

Classroom Resources

Agriculture-Related Books

Agriculture in American History

Corn is Maize
Collins, 1986
Grades PreK-2
Aliki tells the story of corn: How Native American farmers thousands of years ago found and nourished a wild grass plant and made it an important part of our lives.
Potatoes, Corn, and Beans: How the Foods of the Americas Changed Eating Around the World, Atheneum, 1996
Johnson, Sylvia A., Tomatoes
Grades 6-8
On the Texas Trail of Cabeza de Vaca
Louri, Peter
Boyds Mills, 2008
Grades 5-8
Louri journeys in the footsteps of the conquistador Cabeza de Vaca. Illustrated with many period pictures and maps as well as clear photos, the book offers information about Cabeza de Vaca within a contemporary framework. Offers useful insights into a historians methods and disputes.
Yum! ¡Mmm! ¡Qué Rico! America's Sproutings!
Mora, Pat, and Rafael Lopez
Lee and Low, 2007.
Peanuts, blueberries, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and more. Here is a collection of haiku celebrating 14 foods native to the Americas. Cross-curricular, double-paged, with acrylic illustrations on wood panels and a paragraph of information to introduce the foods.
Biography of Corn (How Did That Get Here?)
Nielsen, L. Michelle
Grades 4-6
Craptree, 2007
Maize, or corn, was the staple food of many early cultures in South America, Mesoamerica and the Caribbean. This book shows how the farming of corn spread to the rest of the world.
We Asked for Nothing: The Remarkable Journey of Cabeza de Vaca
Waldman, Stuart
Mikaya, 2003
Grades 4-6
Conquistador Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca and his men were shipwrecked on an island shore off the coast of Texas in 1528. Local Indians brought them food and water and cared for them. Cabeza de Vaca lived among native tribes in the Southwest for eight years as he and three others walked toward the Spanish settlements in what is now Mexico. Enduring starvation, illness, and enslavement, they survived largely through the kindness of the Indians they met along the way. A foldout map traces the journey on land and sea.

Early American
Mayflower 1620: A New Look at a Pilgrim Voyage
Arenstam, Peter, Kemp, John, Grace, Catherine O'Neill and Plimoth Plantation
National Geographic Children's, 2007.
Large-size photo essay draws on exhibits in the living history museum Plimoth Plantation to re-create a historical event distinguishing fact from fiction.
Stranded at Plimoth Plantation
Bowen, Gary
1626, Sagebrush, 1998
Grades 4-7
The boat carrying indentured servant Christopher Sears, 13, to Jamestown, Va., runs into heavy weather off the coast of New England and is abandoned. Christopher is billeted at the Brewster house, where he takes to the daily routines of family and colony. The book is written in the form of a journal, and Christopher relates scads of fascinating tidbits, from food to funerals, entertainment to worship, crops to architecture. He gossips, attends court, falls in love. And in April he has one of his thrice-yearly baths. The story ends with a satisfying and believable twist. Bowen's reputation rests secure as the crafter of scrupulously researched, beautifully illustrated stories.
1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving
Grace, Catherine O'Neill
National Geographic Children's, 2004
Grades 3-5
Well-researched account of the Wampanoag side of the Thanksgiving story. Provides background on the Wampanoag, colonization, Indian diplomacy, the harvest of 1621 and the evolution of the Thanksgiving story.
Hasty Pudding, Johnnycakes, and Other Good Stuff: Cooking in Colonial America
Ichord, Loretta Frances
Millbrook, 1998
Grades K-3
Facts about America's culinary heritage covering such topics as manners, food preservation, and culinary staples such as corn. Ichord also includes a section on regional diversity and one she calls "Soul Cooking," which focuses on the unique cuisine created by slaves. Recipes for popular dishes, updated for modern kitchens and accompanied by clear directions and discussion of how the same dish would have been prepared by colonial cooks, conclude each chapter. Children will need adult help when they prepare the food, but they'll have fun learning the history and making such dishes as johnnycakes, pumpkin soup, and, of course, hasty pudding.
Thomas Jefferson's Feast
Murphy, Frank
Random House for Young Readers, 2003
Grades PreK-2
Tells of Thomas Jefferson's trip to France in 1784 and all the exotic foods he learned about and then brought back to America, including ice cream, macaroni and cheese and tomatoes.
Thanksgiving on Thursday
Osborne, Mary Pope, and Sal Mardocca
Random House for Young Readers, 2002
Grades 1and up
The Magic Tree House whisks Jack and Annie back to 1621 on the first Thanksgiving Day.
Eating the Plates: A Pilgrim Book of Food and Manners
Penner, Lucille Recht
Aladdin, 1997
Grades 3-5
The Pilgrims' hardships and accommodations to the New World are revealed through their diet and changing lifestyle. From the time of their voyage, wehn the biscuits were full of weevils, the Pilgrims' had trouble finding food they liked to eat. The first winter, when food was scarce and many died, was followed by a summer of bounty, though the newcomers were unaccustomed to many of the foods. The evolution of diet in early America is a subject that should appeal to children. Includes 10 tasty, simple recipes.
Farmer George Plants a Nation
Thomas, Peggy, and Layne Johnson
Boyds Mill, 2008
Grades PreK-3
This picture book biography focuses on George Washington's life as a farmer, inventor and scientist. Washington's goal to make his estate self-sufficient carries over to his goal to make the new country independent.

Civil War and Slavery
Eli Whitney and the Cotton Gin
Gunderson, Jessica, and Jerry Acerno
Capstone, 2007
Grades 1-7
Uses comic book-style word balloons and sophisticated vocabulary to tell the story of Eli Whitney and the invention of the cotton gin. Explores the impact the cotton gin had on the Civil War and the ultimate emancipation of the slaves. Includes a timeline of advances made by Eli Whitney, a glossary and a recommended reading list.
Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt
Hopkinson, Deborah
Knopf, 1993
Grades K-3
As a seamstress in the Big House, Clara dreams of a reunion with her Momma, who lives on another plantation - and even of running away to freedom. Then she overhears two slaves talking about the Underground Railroad. In a flash of inspiration, Clara sees how she can use the cloth in her scrap bag to make a map of the land - a freedom quilt - that no master will ever suspect.
Up Before Day Break: Cotton and People in America
Hopkinson, Deborah
Scholastic Nonfiction, 2006
Grades 4-8
Using primary sources and extended with black and white photos and period reproductions, this book provides a detailed picture of the effect of cotton production on the social structure of the US. From 1607, when the earliest English settlers arrived in Virginia, cotton was among the plants grown in colonial gardens. With the onset of the Industrial Revolution in England the demand increased, and the southern colonies stepped up production. Hopkinson explores the role of cotton production in the system of slavery and also considers the young women who worked in the textile factories. After the Civil War, the southern economy traded slavery for sharecropping and moved many of the mills were moved to the South. Following workers' histories up through the Great Depression, the final chapter discusses child labor, past and present.
How I Found the Strong
McMullan, Margaret
Houghton Mifflin, 2005
Grades 6-12
Ten-year-old Frank Russell is left to run his family's small farm when his father and brother go off to fight in the Civil War.

Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel
Connor, Leslie, and Mary Azarian
Houghton Mifflin, 2005
Grades K-3
A young immigrant girl selects a shovel to accompany her on a voyage to America in 1856. The shovel provides subsistence, shelter and safety as it transforms the land and enriches her life.
So Far From Home: The Diary of Mary Driscol, An Irish Mill Girl, Lowell Massachusetts, 1847
Denenberg, Barry
Scholastic, 1996
Grades 4-7
Fourteen-year-old Mary Driscoll and her family have lived in terrible poverty in the Irish countryside every since the potato famine began several years ago. When Mary is offered a chance to join her aunt and older sister in America, she jumps at the chance to seek a better life for herself. But after a long, stormy, and miserable ocean voyage, Mary arrives in America to find that it is nothing like she expected. She takes a job in a textile mill in Lowell, Massachusetts, where she is scorned by most of the American workers and expected to work long hours under terrible, unsafe conditions. There are few bright spots in this account of the life faced by many girls in New England cities during the mid-nineteenth century, and most of what happened to the fictional character of Mary happened to various girls who lived back then and worked in factories and mills.
The Bobbin Girl
McCully, Emily Arnold
Dial, 1996
Grades K-3
When her mother's income from the boardinghouse no longer covers their expenses, 10-year-old Rebecca helps out by working as a bobbin girl at the local textile mill. The young women who board with Mrs. Putney endure the mill's bad air, loud machinery, high injury rate, and low wages in the hope of improving their lot, but when the mill owners threaten to lower their wages, the mill workers stage a "turnout," refusing to work. Although the protest fails, young Rebecca is proud of doing the right thing and vows to carry on the struggle. A Lowell, Massachusetts, textile mill in the 1830s may be an unlikely setting for a picture book, even one for older readers, but McCully weaves historical facts and fictional characters into an intriguing story. The author's note details the background, incidents, and people who inspired the book. Beautifully composed watercolor paintings give a vivid impression of America in the 1830s and bring the period to life. A useful book for history units.
A Family Apart
Nixon, Joan
Bantam, 1996
Grades 4-7

When their mother can no longer support them, six siblings are sent by the Children's Aid Society of New York City to live with farm families in Missouri in 1860.

Paterson, Katherine
Lodestar, 1994
Young Adult
Lyddie Worthen must decide whether to risk losing her job running a loom at a dusty Massachusetts factory--a job she has taken to earn enough money to reunite her family--by protesting the poor working conditions.

Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Biography
Anderson, William
Harper Collins, 1992
Grades 4-7
Details the adult life, as well as the childhood, of one of America's most beloved authors.
Hattie Big Sky
Larsen, Kirby
Delacorte, 2006
Young Adult
Sixteen-year-old orphan Hattie Brooks leaves Iowa and travels to a Montana homestead inherited from her uncle. She has less than a year to fence and cultivate the land in order to keep it. Chapters open with short articles that Hattie writes for an Iowa newspaper or her lively letters to a friend and possible beau who is in the military in France. The authentic first-person narrative, portrays Hattie's struggles as a young woman with limited options, a homesteader facing terrible odds, and a loyal citizen confused about the war and the local anti-German bias that endangers her new friends. Larson, whose great-grandmother homesteaded alone in Montana, read dozens of homesteaders' journals and based scenes in the book on real events.

Wild West
Gabriel's Story
Durham, David Anthony
Doubleday, 2001
Young Adult
Set in the 1870s, the novel tells the tale of Gabriel Lynch, an African American youth who settles with his family in the plains of Kansas. Dissatisfied with the drudgery of homesteading and growing increasingly disconnected from his family, Gabriel forsakes the farm for a life of higher adventure. Thus begins a forbidding trek into a terrain of austere beauty, a journey begun in hope, but soon laced with danger and propelled by a cast of brutal characters.
Into the West
McPherson, James M.
Atheneum, 2006
Grades 4-8
The book is divided into 39 chapters, most consisting of a single-page essay about a topic, paired with an attractive, full-page period illustration or photo, some of which are in color. Each page of text also has a related Quick Facts sidebar. Many early sections discuss the upheavals and difficulties of Reconstruction, including the debate over presidential versus congressional reconstruction, the Ku Klux Klan, and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. Later chapters cover the Homestead Act, cattle drives, outlaws, and the forced removal of Native American tribes.
Thunder on the Plains: The Story of the American Buffalo
Robbins, Ken
Grades 4-6
Atheneum, 2009
Robbins briefly traces the history of the American buffalo from 1875, when there were perhaps 50 million of them, to the present, in which laws protect the surviving 200,000. "This is the story of a great shaggy creature, a very American beast, one found here and nowhere else," he begins. Robbins supplements the text with dramatic images, inclucing his own photographs of present-day buffalo grazing in Oklahoma.
Black Frontiers: A History of African American Heroes in the Old West
Schlissel, Lillian
Simon and Schuster for Young Readers, 2000
Grades 4-7
Lillian Schlissel provides exciting coverage of black frontiersmen, a group neglected by many historians. Photographs and pictures dating from 1852 to 1948 show black men prospecting for gold, riding bucking broncos, and serving in the military. The author also covers three courageous black women: Stagecoach Mary, Mary Ellen Pleasant, and Biddy Mason. Snakes, sports, and storms are just a few of the many interesting details included in this history book.
The Great North American Prairie: Stories from Where We Live
St. Antoine, Sara (editor), and Trudy Nicholson and Paul Mirocha
Milkweed, 2004
Grades 4-8
Stories, poems, journal entries and essays that reflect life on the prairies of the US and Canada. The selections, both historical and contemporary, comprise a good mix of fiction and information and reflect the ethnic diversity of the inhabitants. Includes familiar authors such as Carl Sandburg, Willa Cather, and Louise Erdrich, as well as lesser-known writers. Includes maps, a detailed discussion of different kinds of prairies, listings of flora and fauna, etc.
When Molly Was a Harvey Girl
Wood, Frances M.
Kane Miller, 2010
Young Adult
A historically based story about the hardships and adventures faced by an orphaned 13-year-old girl in the 19th Century Wild West. In her job as a New Mexico railroad station waitress she serves up American classics like chicken salad and peach pie but also forms friendships that introduce her to Mexican food.

World War II
The Quilt
Paulsen, Gary
Grades 3-8
Random House, 2005
A young boy learns the stories of his Norwegian American family as told through a quilt created by women left at home during wartime in 1944.