We once had a chook (chicken) named Dog. Louisa named her because, as you can probably guess, she was hoping for a different pet.
But Dog was a terrific chook – she was a reliable layer and hatched batch after batch of chicks whom she mothered beautifully and raised to adulthood.
Our backyard chooks have been for eggs and entertainment but, as Melinda Gates writes here, chickens can be a way out of poverty and an important gateway to economic and food security. She notes that chickens can be a source of dignity and control of family finances for women in otherwise impoverished circumstances.
Melinda and her husband Bill launched a campaign to raise the percentage of chicken-owning families in West Africa from 5% to 30% in the next five years. The fundraising part of the campaign is finished but if you want to donate you can still do that through the Gates Foundation partner – Heifer International.
One of the big benefits of reading stories to children is that the stories connect them to people living completely different lives to their own.
It’s difficult for children in relatively wealthy circumstances to imagine the impact of a chicken, but they can certainly relate to finding joy and excitement in owning and watching chickens (even if they’ve never actually owned one themselves).
So I've collected 8 books about chickens that are fun to read because the chickens are so appealing, but they'll also help to connect a child with the art of chicken-raising. And, in some cases, with the empowerment that can come through actually owning chickens. Some have anthropomorphised chickens and some are more realistic but they’re all full of interest. I hope you find one or two that turn into favourites.
Peggy – a fun book about a chicken who goes to town.
Queenie the Bantam – about a family who adopt a chick after their dog hatches a clutch of eggs!
Handa’s Hen – a nice story that shows the importance of a single chicken in the life and livelihood of a multi-generational family.
Dora’s Chicks – delightful and simple, about a hen who loses her chicks then finds them again. It's great for very young readers and has an element of math as Dora keeps adding up the chicks she has found.
Banjo and Ruby Red – a charming tale of a dog, an incompliant chook and the friendship they form through adversity.
Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken – a funny romp through a chicken's wild adventures with a pirate, in a circus, and in a bazaar. Louise is a chicken with verve and nerve. She faces each new adventure head on and looks forward to the next one.
Jackie French’s Chook Book – I have a special affection for this one. When Alec (Ivy’s dad) was struggling with reading, this was the first book that made it worthwhile for him to sit down and keep going until the end. It’s a how-to for raising chickens (including how to slaughter them).
Whether you're embarking on your own chicken-raising adventures, dreaming of doing just that, or simply looking for a peek into other people’s lives, those are all great.
Also - more chicken posts here.
We've mostly linked the images and titles to Book Depository, but if you'd like to search for them generically through our affiliate booksellers, here are the links: Amazon - Book Depository - Booktopia.