Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural & Extension Education (MS)

Degree Level



Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology


Jefferson Miller

Committee Member

Estepp, Christopher

Second Committee Member

Connors, Sean


Agricultural education, Agricultural literacy, Anthropomorphism, Children's literature, Early childhood education


The purpose of this two-article qualitative study was to characterize children's literature about agriculture and to describe the perceptions of authors and illustrators who are responsible for writing and designing these successful publications. This will result in the ability of organizations like Feeding Minds Press to provide writers, illustrators, and publishers with effective strategies and techniques to improve the accuracy and overall quality of children’s literature about agriculture. Few parameters exist for authors of children’s books about agriculture (Biser, 2007). These parameters are necessary to ensure the quality and accuracy of these educational efforts (Serafini, 2012). Though Feeding Minds Press has an established set of guidelines for authors, this publisher and others like it need empirical evidence on which to base these parameters and set future expectations for authors, illustrators, and publishers of books promoting agricultural literacy (R. Henningfield, personal communication, October 2021). Grounded in Jean Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development, this study comprised of both content analysis and semi-structured interview route. The content analysis was comprised of 14 American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture award-winning children’s books about agriculture which were analyzed for predetermined literary features. The top three characteristics were pictorial realism, fantastical context, and critical anthropomorphism. Each of these characteristics was present in at least six titles with the number of references in a single title ranging from one to 12. Characteristics were identified in both the illustrations and storyline of the titles. During the semi-structured interviews, researchers interviewed the authors, illustrators, and publishers of the 14 selected books to learn more about their background knowledge about agriculture, their motivations to create publications about agriculture. The transcripts from these interviews were hand-coded using NVivo12 software to identify themes and similarities between interviews with the participants, with several themes emerging. Key themes included similar backgrounds, motivations, and creative processes. Most participants started their careers in the education or creative writing space. The passions that motivated these creators to produce content for children about agriculture included their fulfillment from lifelong learning. In the creative process, many creators leaned on writing groups and mentors for support. Each aspect of the research objective was used to form open-ended questions for interview participants to describe the experiences of authors and illustrators as they research, write, publish, and illustrate children’s books about agriculture.