Literature Guides

Each teacher’s guide introduces a beautiful, imaginative, lively text or picture book and is accompanied by professionally designed curriculum created by current educators. Students can benefit from the exposure to quality literature and an understanding of Nebraska agriculture and its impact on their daily lives.

A Drop Around the World

By Barbara Shaw McKinney

Purpose: Students will interact with the story by exploring the water cycle
through a creative writing or informative writing activity.

Level: Intermediate

About the Book: Based on the picture book which follows an ever-changing drop of water-from liquid to solid to vapor-around the world, this teacher’s guide focuses on the magic of water, world habitats including maps and background information, and lesson plans that help develop positive character qualities.

A Leaf Can Be…

By Laura Purdie Sala

Purpose: Students will grasp a sense of the complexity of the natural world and the way animals, plants, sun, soil, and water depend on each other.

Level: Basic

About the Book: A beautiful, whimsical, rhythmic, imaginative story highlighting some long-known roles and surprising, not-before-realized roles, leaves play in nature and with other creatures.

Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic

By Ginnie Lo

Purpose: Students will interact with the story through discussion questions and writing activities while increasing an understanding of the agriculture that surrounds us in Nebraska.

Level: Intermediate

About the Book: A beautiful, whimsical, rhythmic, imaginative story highlighting some long-known roles and surprising, not-before-realized roles, leaves play in nature and with other creatures.


By Elisha Cooper

Purpose: Readers will evaluate author’s purpose and identify text evidence to support observations.

Level: Intermediate

About the Book: There is so much to look at and learn about on a farm – animals, tractors, crops, and barns. And children feeding animals for morning chores! With lyrical writing and beautiful illustrations that capture the rhythms of the changing seasons, the author brings the farm to life.

Farmer George Plants a Nation

By Peggy Thomas

Purpose: Students will describe the relationships between events and ideas in historical informational texts, explain how the author uses evidence to support information in non-fiction text and gain an understanding of the benefits of composting.

Level: Advanced

About the Book: Besides being a general and the first President of the United States, George Washington was also a farmer who enjoyed experimenting with seeds, tools, and fertilizers. He also tinkered with plows, designed a sixteen-sided barn, and plotted the location of each new tree he planted. In this book, the reader will learn how George created a self-sufficient farm at Mount Vernon, Virginia.

PB & J Hooray

By Janet Nolan

Purpose: Students will complete a sequencing activity to help identify where the ingredients from common foods come from with a special emphasis on wheat, a major Nebraska crop.

Level: Basic

About the Book: Learn how peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are made! This book describes how peanuts become peanut butter, grapes are made into jelly, and wheat turns into bread. The fun, rhythmic language is perfect for Pre K- Grade 2 students.

Seed, Soil, Sun: Earth’s Recipe for Food

By Cris Peterson

Purpose: This guide provides three worksheets for language arts activities for suggested grade levels: syllable study for Kindergarten, word and sentence re-ordering for 1st grade and diagraphs study for 2nd grade. Vocabulary for many basic principles important to plant life are introduced, including germination, soil properties and quality, and photosynthesis.

Level: Basic

About the Book: The miraculous process by which air and water combine with seed, soil and sun create the food we eat. Using corn plants as an example, the author takes the reader through the story of germination and growth of a tiny corn seed into a giant plant reaching high into the air with roots extending over six feet into the ground. Readers can also explore the make-up of soil and the amazing creatures that live there from microscopic one-celled bacteria to moles, amoebas, and earth worms.

The Apple Orchard Riddle

By Margaret McNamara

Purpose: Students will develop character analysis skills by exploring adjectives the author uses to describe the physical and personality traits of the characters in Mr. Tippin’s class. They will also have the opportunity to portray those traits in a play-acting activity with scenes from the book.

Level: Basic

About the Book: In this playful and humorous story, the students learn a lot about apples and apple orchards – including how apples are harvested, how cider is made, and what the different varieties of apples are – while trying to solve a riddle.

The Pumpkin Circle

By George Levenson

Purpose: Students will create a written piece about a cycle that describes components, changes, and stages from beginning, middle, to end by comparing it to a mentor text.

Level: Basic

About the Book: The poetry of this text winds in and around photographs like the tendrils of a pumpkin vine, snaring your imagination and trapping your interest in where the story will lead. This book truly tells the story of the life cycle of pumpkins as a cycle complete with seeds for the next crop and the decomposition of the pumpkin back into the soil.

The Thing About Luck

By Cynthia Kadohata

Purpose: This guide aids in leading students through language arts and agriculture appreciation activities to engage them as readers and give them a taste of the culture those who call agriculture their livelihood.

Level: Advanced

Download Individual Sections


Section One – Ch. 1

Section Two – Chs. 2, 3, 4, 5

Section Three – Chs. 6, 7, 8

Section Four – Chs. 9, 10, 11, 12

Section Five – Chs. 13, 14, 15, 16

Working Journal


About the Book: Summer knows that “kouun” means good luck in Japanese, and it seems like this year her family has none of it. Right before harvest, an emergency causes her parents to go back to Japan. Summer and her brother are left with her grandparents who must come out of retirement to harvest wheat and help pay the bills. Chapter Book

Thomas Jefferson Grows a Nation

By Peggy Thomas

Purpose: Students will explore vocabulary words to comprehend the text by writing, defining, and drawing vocabulary. Students will compare and contrast rural versus urban settings using a Venn diagram and communicate their type of community in a collage.

Level: Advanced

About the Book: Thomas Jefferson loved to grow everything – from fruits and vegetables and trees to…even his new nation! And he loved to boast that this new nation was big, beautiful, and bountiful. As president, Jefferson doubled the size of the country in just one day. Back at home, he lovingly tended his gardens and fields and prepared America’s soils for the future.

Tops & Bottoms

By Janet Stevens

Purpose: Students will complete language arts activities while gaining an understanding of agriculture that surrounds us in Nebraska and feeds people near and far.

Level: Intermediate

About the Book: Bear and hare are involved in a gardening project. Hare, the book’s main character, tricks his lazy colleague into sharing crops which only benefit the hard work of the hare. During the process children learn which foods grow above the ground and which grow below ground, hence the title – tops and bottoms. This is a great book to introduce gardening topics!