Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom

Ag-Related Books for Children and Young Adults

Oklahoma Studies

Antle, Nancy, Beautiful Land: A Story of the Oklahoma Land Rush, Puffin, 1997. (Grades 3-5)

This short chapter book describes the opening of the Oklahoma Territory. Anna Mae, her brother, and her father have been living in a dugout on the Kansas prairie for two years waiting for word that the new territory is open for settlement. When the news comes, the family lines up with others to race in a land run. Claim jumpers try to cheat them, but soldiers ride to the rescue and all ends well. Although too short to explore fully the emotional issues raised, the book fulfills its purpose in creating sympathetic characters and showing what daily life may have been like for settlers of the period.

Booth, David, and Karen Reczuch, The Dust Bowl, Kids Can, 1999. (Grades K-3).

A drought is plaguing a farm family, and Matthew's grandfather looks out the window and tells him about the Big Dry of the 1930s. He describes the good times when farmers felt as if they had struck gold, and also recalls the great dust clouds that could block out the sun for days. Once again, as this new drought continues, the family clings to the hope of seeing their land green.

Cooper, Michael, Dust to Eat: Drought and Depression in the 1930s, Clarion, 2005. (Grades 6-8)

Personal stories of survival during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl within the Great Plains, with depictions of migrant camps and description of President Roosevelt's response to those in need.

Friedrich, Elizabeth, and Michael Garland, Leah's Pony, Boyds Mills, 1999. (Grades K-3).

Amid the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, Leah's father is faced with the loss of the family farm and puts his farm and equipment up for auction, but Leah comes up with the money by selling her beloved pony.

Goscinny, The Oklahoma Land Rush: A Lucky Luke Adventure, Cinebook, 2010. (Grades 8 and up)

Luke is asked by the federal government to monitor the historic Oklahoma land rush with the help of the cavalry. Major events in the book parallel history - the lineup on the territory line (as well as attempts by sooners to get in early), disputes over land, and the springing up of boomtowns.

Hesse, Karen, Out of the Dust, Scholastic Paperback, 1999. (Grades 4-6)

A poem cycle that reads as a novel, "Out of the Dust" tells the story of Billie Jo, a girl who struggles to help her family survive the dustbowl years of the Depression. Fighting against the elements on her Oklahoma farm, Billie Jo takes on even more responsibilities when her mother dies in a tragic accident.

Myers, Anna, Red-Dirt Jessie, Perfection, 1997. (Grades 4-7)

Jessie, a girl living in the Oklahoma dust bowl during the Depression, tries to tame a wild dog and help her father recover from a nervous breakdown.

Porter, Tracey, Treasures in the Dust, HarperCollins, 1999. (Grades 4-7)

Annie May Weightman and Violet Cobble are best friends and neighbors. They live in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, during the Great Depression. This is their story, told in two voices. Annie is happiest on the ground, sifting through the dust for traces of the past. But Violet is a dreamer always playing make believe to escape, to fly away from the dusty land. In this beautifully crafted novel, poet Tracey Porter joins together two unique voices to tell a larger story of America, its hopes and dreams, during a time when thousands fled their prairie homes in search of work, food, and shelter.

Sandler, Martin W., The Dust Bowl Through the Lens: How Photography Revealed and Helped Remedy a National Disaster, Walker Childrens, 2009. (Grades 4-8)

Well researched and dramatically illustrated, the book explains how settlement, farming methods, and weather together devastated the southern plains and, by extension, the people who lived there, how they reacted, how the government responded, how the Dust Bowl finally ended, and who created the photographic record of the period.

Scillian, Devin, and Chris Ellison, Pappy's Handkerchief, Sleeping Bear, 2007. (Grades 1-4)

Young Moses and his family are barely scraping by. He helps his father in their fish stall selling each day's catch to passersby but times are hard in 1889 Baltimore. It's difficult to provide for a family of ten. But when they hear of free farmland out in Oklahoma, the family sells all they own and heads west. Their wagon journey, however, is plagued with troubles from ice storms and flooded rivers to diminishing supplies and sickness. Yet Moses and his family persevere. They arrive in time to take a place along the boundary line that marks the staging point for the Oklahoma Land Run. But after making it this far, will even more bad luck prevent them from realizing their dream of owning their own piece of America?

Stanley, Jerry, Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp, Crown, 1992. (Grades 4-7)

This true story took place at the emergency farm-labor camp immortalized in Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Ostracized as "dumb Okies," the children of Dust Bowl migrant laborers went without school - until Superintendent Leo Hart and 50 Okie kids built their own school in a nearby field.

Thomas, Joyce Carol, and Floyd Cooper, I Have Heard of a Land, HarperCollins, 2000. (Grades PreK-3)

Tribute in the form of a lyrical poem to the African-American pioneers who participated in the Oklahoma land runs of 1889 and 1893. Includes some hidden facts as it singles out a lone woman who hears of a place where she only has to "Lift up her feet/ running for the land/As though running for her life/And in the running claim it," a place where "Her possibilities reach as far/As her eyes can see/And as far as our imaginations can carry us." The layout and design of the book capture the expanse of the prairie. Some historical and personal context are provided.

Townsend, Una Belle, and Emile Enriquez, The Oklahoma Land Run, Pelican, 2008. (Grades PreK-3)

Depicts the dramatic opening of 2 million acres of land in Oklahoma in Oklahoma on April 22, 1889, and the mad rush that ensued as 50,000 people scrambled to stake their claim. Young Jesse convinces his injured father to let him drive the wagon. During the action-packed race, Jesse proves up to the challenges and secures a beautiful stake.

Turner, Ann Warren, and Robert Barrett, Dust for Dinner, Harper Trophy, 1997. (Grades K-3).

This I Can Read Book revolves around an Oklahoma family displaced by drought and the Depression. Because the book is divided into chapters, youngsters will get the feeling of reading a "real book," while having the luxury of short sentences, generous leading, and a direct, easy-to-grasp plot line. Realistic, nicely executed illustrations decorate every page, and the book ends on a happy note: Dad finally finds a job in California.

Recommend a book.

Ag-Related Books for Children and Young Adults

Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom

Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom is a program of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the Oklahoma State Department of Education.