12 Books That Will Inspire Your Children (or Grandchildren)

A dozen suggestions for books that will spark your child's or grandchild's curiosity and inspire their imagination.

What started your simple living journey? Why do you love black garden soil or 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" as we called the undeveloped lots on their street 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. 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.

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 are about homesteading or farm kids, but adventure series set in pioneer times are just as inspiring and educational.

{You'll probably notice that there are more than twelve suggestions because many of my suggestions are series. Besides, a dozen is such a nice round number!}

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Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" series

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder - the entire Little House series is full of homesteading and simple living inspiration. I borrowed them all from the library when I was young; we bought the series for our daughters but I still re-read them every so often. They are timeless, down-to-earth, and have practical homesteading information woven into the stories. Laura taught me about smokehouses, storing pumpkins for the winter, and the importance of helping your neighbor. 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:

"My Side of the Mountain" by Jean Craighead George will inspire your child's or grandchild's imagination.

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; we haven't read the other two - yet. There is also a Pocket Guide to the Outdoors: Based on My Side of the Mountain. My son would have loved that one!

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.

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Let books inspire your child's (or grandchild's) imagination and curiosity!

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 series includes A Journey of FaithA Grateful HarvestWinter 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. There is a series for boys 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 still is) 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. You'll find all six books in the series here, which are perfect for older girls. 

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.

Sunflower Houses by Sharon Lovejoy will inspire you and your child in the garden.

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

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

Giving a child his or her own guidebook might encourage them to make their passion their career.

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.

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.

"Let's Hatch Chicks" 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. You can read my review of Let's Hatch Chicks! here.

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

Over a dozen books that will teach your child (or grandchild) the value of a hard day's work while inspiring their imagination and creativity!

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

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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