Books That Will Inspire Your Children (or Grandchildren)

A row of children's books on a shelf.

Inspirational and motivational books for children are a doorway to learning and exploring the world around us - the kind of books our children can get lost in, that will inspire them to excellence. This list of living books that will stimulate children's imagination and creativity.

Books that will inspire your children or grandchildren

What started your simple living journey? Why do you love black garden soil and chickens, what started your food preserving hobby?

Perhaps it was a parent or grandparent, or a movie or TV show (Little House on the Prairie, perhaps). Somewhere in your past, something inspired you. Someone taught you to knit or crochet or sew, how to track wild animals, or to forage for wild edibles.

My grandparents gave me the gift of summers spent outdoors, rambling through the "desert" behind their little ranch, where I watched the little lizards and horned toads. 

My paternal grandma showed her love for her family by cooking large meals from scratch. My mother-in-law taught me to crochet (although I could never hope to be as accomplished at it as she was).

Reading was my favorite pastime, and books inspired me in a big way. I was a voracious reader as a child; I read everything, even the cereal box while eating breakfast, which amused my mother who wasn't a big reader. 

As a young child, my father took me to the library every week and helped me choose one book that was easy to read plus a classic and another one that was a bit challenging. I read every book about horses in our little library.

Thankfully my children were all eager readers too. I just can't imagine growing up without the magic that books can bring to a child's life: adventures, travel, knowledge and imagination.

Share the gift of reading

If you'd like to inspire a love of adventure, resourcefulness, curiosity and imagination in your children or grandchildren, consider the following classic books for children and young adults. 

Not all of these books are about homesteading or farm kids, but adventure series set in pioneer times are just as inspiring and educational.

NOTE: These and many other classic books are also available at AbeBooks, ThriftBooks, Ebay, Alibris, and BookFinder as well as other online stores. You can also check out the "available from other sellers" listings on Amazon. If you're blessed to have a used bookstore near you, be sure to visit them.

This post contains affiliate links; if you click on a link and make a purchase I might make a small commission but it doesn't affect the price you pay. Read my disclosure here.

The cover of Farmer Boy, one of Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books.

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder - the entire Little House series is full of homesteading and simple living inspiration. The stories are timeless, down-to-earth, and have practical homesteading information woven into the stories. 

Laura teaches her readers about smokehouses, storing pumpkins for the winter, the importance of helping your neighbor and so much more. 

Farmer Boy, written about Laura's husband Almanzo's childhood, will inspire the boys in your family too.

There are also several books inspired by Laura's Little House books:

The cover of "My Side of the Mountain" by Jean Craighead George.

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George chronicles the adventures of a boy who decided he was going to go live on his own on a mountain. 

Along the way he tames a bird of prey and learns how to live off the land. This book sparked my son's love of raptors, and I know he still searches the skies and hopes to someday see a peregrine falcon's silhouette.

There are five books in the series, including On the Far Side of the Mountain and Frightful's Mountain. There is also a Pocket Guide to the Outdoors: Based on My Side of the Mountain. My son would have loved that one!

Never make fun of someone if they mispronounce a word. It means they learned it by reading."
~ Anonymous

The cover of Hatchet, a book by Gary Paulsen.

In Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, Brian is lost in the Canadian wilderness after an accident and this book records how he survived. Another excellent book for boys, even those who aren't eager readers. 

There are five books in the series (Hatchet, The River, Brian's Winter, Brian's Return, and Brian's Hunt) which you can find on this Amazon page. (Scroll down to the "books in this series" section.)

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A young boy reading "Let's Hatch Chicks!"

The Prairie River series by Kristiana Gregory was one of my youngest daughter's favorites. Set during the Civil War, fourteen-year-old Nessa ages out of the orphanage where she grew up. Faced with a bleak future, she heads West for a new life. 

Nessa is a sweet and resourceful girl who learns how to make her own way on the prairie, but be aware that she does deceive others in her determination to get away from her terrible situation. 

The Prairie River series includes A Journey of Faith, A Grateful Harvest, Winter Tidings, and Hope Springs Eternal.

In fact, Kristiana Gregory is one of my daughter's favorite authors. She also loved the Dear America series; Ms. Gregory authored many of those books as well. 

The complimentary series for boys is called My Name is America. Both series focus on admirable young characters in historical settings who are resourceful and aren't afraid of hard work.

But my daughter's all-time favorite was (and as an adult it's still a favorite) When Calls the Heart, a series about a young teacher in the Canadian West by Janette Oke, and she told me to be sure to include it in this post. There are six books in the series, which are perfect for older girls. 

Non-fiction books for children

The cover of "Keeping Chickens"

Don't overlook non-fiction books. A Kid's Guide to Keeping Chickens by Melissa Caughey of the blog Tilly's Nest teaches children the ins and outs of raising chickens as pets, and includes such fun activities as building chicken forts and cooking egg-based dishes such as Mexican egg pizza.

A book on a table: Sunflower Houses by Sharon Lovejoy

I'm including Sunflower Houses: Inspiration From the Garden--A Book for Children and Their Grown-Ups by Sharon Lovejoy even though it's written more for adults to read and then share the projects with their children, grandchildren or other little ones in their life. 

This delightful book will help you share your gardening passion with children through activities, crafts, stories, games and planting projects. Why not plant a floral clock garden or a sunflower house for children to play inside?

Field Guides

If your child has an interest in birds, trees, mushrooms, birds of prey, insects, wildflowers - whatever his or her interest is - look for a guidebook or field guide about their interest. 

Some are written about a particular region such as the Birds of Oklahoma field guide in the photo. 

You might be encouraging a future entomologist, marine biologist, botanist or some other kind of "-ist" who will love his or her career because it's also their passion.

A collection of guide books and field guides on a wooden table.

For young children

For younger readers, Charlotte's Web is a fun read about life on a farm and at the county fair, told from a spider's perspective. 

I've been told that Charlotte is a yellow-and-black garden spider, also called an orb weaver, of the species Argiope aurantia. They weave an interesting web with a "zipper" in it, which is how Charlotte weaves her magic. 

The orb weaver is my own favorite spider; can you guess why? Because I fell in love with the book as a child.

For very young children, you might consider the Little Red Barn or Moo board books to teach babies and toddlers about farm animals. Both have liftable flaps to discover fun surprises.

"Let's Hatch Chicks," a book that answers a child's questions about what happens inside that egg.

Let's Hatch Chicks!: Explore the Wonderful World of Chickens and Eggs by Lisa Steele - what happens inside that egg as a chick develops and finally hatches? 

Ms. Steele's story is simple and easy for a young child to follow: Violet, a lavender Orpington hen, is ready to hatch eggs. The book also explains how chicks develop inside the eggs day by day, and will hold the interest of older children and adults as well. 

The illustrations are charming and will enchant all ages. 

I'd love to know about your favorite books from childhood. What recommendations would you add to this list? 

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A young boy reading a book.

Good books will inspire your child's curiosity, resourcefulness and imagination. This list suggests more than a dozen classics that will make great gifts.


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