Jolabokaflod and Agriculture in the Classroom


During World War II, the citizens of Iceland began a unique tradition.  Because of rationing for the war effort, traditional Christmas celebrations were a challenge.  Paper was one of the few supplies not rationed making books and affordable, practical gift.  The tradition of Jolabokaflod, or the Christmas Book Flood, continues today.

Looking for a few new books with an agriculture theme to start your own book giving tradition this year? Consider the following!

Popcorn Country: The Story of America’s Favorite Snack  by Cris Peterson (ISBN 978-1629798929).  An AITC favorite author Cris Peterson takes on the official snack food of Illinois. How can you go wrong? Inspired by a visit to Mason County, Illinois!  This book will be available at the IAA Annual Meeting in the IAA Foundation Country Store.

The Hundred-Year Barn by Patricia MacLachlan (ISBN 978-0062687739).  Explore history and agriculture with this beautifully written and illustrated book. Celebrate family and farming in this tale.  This book will be available at the IAA Annual Meeting in the IAA Foundation Country Store.

Full of Beans: Henry Ford Grows a Car by Peggy Thomas (ISBN 978-1629795390). How can you miss with one of our favorite authors (Thomas) and an Illinois crop (soybeans)!

George Washington Carver for Kids:  His Life and Discoveries with 21 Activities by Peggy Thomas (ISBN 978-0915864003).  Peggy Thomas introduces us to Carver, his work, and Carver-inspired activities.

Hey Water! by Antoinette Portis (ISBN 978-0823441556). Just in time for Earth Day 2020, an excellent look at water all around us.

Oak Leaf by John Sandford (ISBN  978-1944903732).   Explore fall in Illinois with a Chicago based author.  Follow an oak leaf on an incredible journey as it falls during the season.

Pick a Pumpkin by Patricia Toht (ISBN 978-1536207644).  This is an energetic and exciting way to celebrate all things pumpkin that lead to Halloween!   Recently announced as a 2020 Illinois Reads selection.

Right This Very Minute: A Table to Farm Book About Food and Farming by Lisl Detlefsen (ISBN 978-1948898003).   Join author and farmer Lisl Detlefsen telling the tale of how your food got to the table!

 We are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines (ISBN 978-1400314225). Yes, that Joanna Gaines has written a great tale showcasing her family and the lessons learned in the family garden!

 For the Young Adult readers consider:

Pumpkinheads a graphic novel by Rainbow Rowell and Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks (ISBN 9781626721623).  Pumpkins aren’t just for elementary school!  Follow the adventures of Deja and Josiah, seasonal best friends, as they work during the last night of the season at the local pumpkin patch.

The Escape of Light by Fred Venturini (ISBN 978-1684423934).  Southern Illinois author Fred Venturini takes a fictional look at basketball in a small rural school.  Pair teen angst with a severely burned boy, and you see a small town in action.

Sorry for Your Loss by Jessie Anne Foley (ISBN 978-0062571915).  This is my favorite book at the moment. Although I can’t make it link to agriculture, Illinois author Jessie Anne Foley delivers an outstanding tale of loss in a huge family, and the impact it leaves behind.  Fans of John Green will enjoy this book.

As you prepare to celebrate your own Jolabokaflod, visit your local bookstore or use the IAA Foundation on your Amazon Smile account!

Be sure to check out our website for ways to link these books with some of your favorite activities.


By Kevin Daugherty


Daugherty is the Director of the Illinois Center for Agricultural Engagement at the Illinois Farm Bureau.  He is currently reading When All is Said by Anne Griffin.

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