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Kids Will Want to Dig Into These Soil Books

Pamela Smith
By  Pamela Smith , Crops Technology Editor
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The soil tends and teaches. Add these books to your child's summer reading list to help preserve the legacy of the land. (DTN photo by Pamela Smith)

Say the word "dirt" around a farmer and prepare to be corrected. That precious medium is called soil by those who depend on it for a living.

The Soil Quilt, written by Amanda Radke and illustrated by Michelle Weber, uses a young boy's summer trip to the farm to piece together a story that explains the differences. Packed with details about soil, farming and rural life, the book was written for third graders (ages 8-9), but the text also works as a read-aloud for the younger set.

Working alongside his grandmother, Joey discovers how farmers work to promote soil health with responsible conservation practices. Along the way, he learns about the Dust Bowl, experiences a drone in flight, weeds the garden, sells produce at the farmer's market and gains an appreciation for all things nature. A patchwork quilt stitched by his grandmother serves as a metaphor for the land, life, and legacy he learns to love during this South Dakota summer.

The book's back matter presents a glossary of terms, a soil science activity, and questions to test what is learned. The book was written for the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition and is available through Amazon, independent book sellers or the website:

The Soil in Jackie's Garden, by Peggy Thomas and illustrated by Neely Daggett, introduces budding gardeners to the magic of what is happening in their own backyard and beneath the surface of the soil.

Written in the sing-song cumulative style of the book The House that Jack Built, readers ages 5-8 take a tour below ground to see what lies beneath Jackie's garden. The rhyming text is interwoven with science facts that teach younger readers about the life cycle of plants and all the natural processes that begin and end with soil.

Readers turn the book sideways to vertically experience the entire soil profile. Squirming earthworms, busy ants and mysterious microbes teach how things grow and how soil is built. The publisher, Feeding Minds Press, is a project of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. The hardcover book is hot off the press and debuted May 29. It can be purchased through Amazon, independent book sellers and….

Erosion: How Hugh Bennett Saved America's Soil and Ended the Dust Bowl, by Darcy Pattison and illustrated by Peter Willis, celebrates the story and the man who made soil conservation part of national policy.

If explaining the Dust Bowl to kids ages 4-8 seems dry as, ahem ... dirt, think again. This is a visually appealing story about the dust storms of the 1930s and how it threatened to destroy U.S. agriculture. Readers will root for "Big Hugh" as he heads to Washington to explain erosion and the need to educate about new farming practices.

In the telling, the book presents the biggest and dustiest example of show-and-tell ever as Hugh Bennett uses the wind and a black blizzard to convince the U.S. Congress to establish the Soil Conservation Service (now the Natural Resources Conservation Service).

Part of the Moments in Science Collection, the book, which is illustrated in kid-friendly caricature drawings, concludes with a real photo and some history of Bennett's life. Readers learn about efforts during the 1940s to give face-lifts to farms across America and take a trip to the gully that jumpstarted Bennett's mission -- now a Georgia state park called Providence Canyon. Available through Amazon, independent book sellers and….

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