Title: Farmer George Plants a Nation
Author: Peggy Thomas
Illustrator: Layne Johnson
Publisher: Calkins Creek (Boyds Mills Press)
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 6.2
Concepts: natural resources, human resources, innovation, slave labor
Review: George Washington, best known for serving as the first president of the United States and as commander in chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution, also spent many years of his life working as a farmer. As a young man, George first leased the large estate of Mount Vernon from a family member after he returned from fighting in the French and Indian War. He studied the best books on agriculture available from England and began to experiment with how different seeds grew in Mount Vernon’s relatively hard clay soil and warm climate. George also thought carefully about to improve the efficiency of farm production at Mount Vernon. With his innovations, he developed a new plow that could also plant seeds, and he designed a new kind of barn that used horses to separate grains of wheat from the stalks.
This unique book offers children a fresh perspective on the economic contributions that George Washington made to the United States through his role as farmer. The book does an excellent job in teaching children about several important concepts in economics, including natural resources, human resources, and innovation. Neither the author nor the illustrator shy away from the fact that George Washington relied extensively on slaves to perform most of the farm work. This book may present children with one of their first views of George Washington as an estate farmer and slave owner, thus presenting a valuable opportunity to talk about the role of slavery in the South during the American Revolution.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children