Clucking about chicken books

My mum recently realised a long held ambition – to start keeping chickens. She’s got three little hens, Pippi Longstocking (because she’s so adventurous), Mabel and Rosie, and recently M and J got to meet them for the first time.

In honour of these new members of the extended family we’ve been reading lots and lots of chicken stories. Here are some of our favourites:

Daisy Comes Home by Jan Brett


Daisy is a hen who is fed up of being picked upon by the others who share her coop. In looking for an alternative place to spend the night she ends up floating down river in an egg basket on a journey packed with adventures. Eventually Daisy is rescued and the trials and tribulations she’s suffered turn out to have given her self confidence – her new found assertiveness ensures she is no longer picked on by the other hens back home. This story, set in China, of strength out of adversity is illustrated in true Jan Brett style (the framing of each picture with a before and after cameo, just like in The Mitten, immense detail, rich colours, a strong sense of cultural authenticity). This tale of a plucky chicken who stands up to being bullied has backbone and beauty in equal measure.
The Problem with Chickens by Bruce McMillan, illustrated by Gunnella


A funny story about what can happen if chickens and people spend to much time together, we like this story for its offbeat humour (chickens tight rope walking along washing lines and doing aerobics), oil painting illustrations which remind me, at least, of Beryl Cook, and the little sprinkling of cultural insight (how island communities have been known to gather eggs – whilst this book is set in Iceland, I recognised the descriptions of gathering seabird eggs from histories of life on the Orkneys).
Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke


Minerva Louise is a beguiling little hen who views the whole world through rose tinted glasses and her innocent assumptions about the way the world is make it easy to adore her. She leaves her free range friends to explore the nearby house and sees delight in everything – a potted plant becomes a comfortable chair for her, the flowery duvet is a meadow full of flowers. Her insouciance combined with the humour that arises out of her shoe-horning every new thing she comes across into her chicken-world frame of reference (a dozing cat is a cow, a kid’s trike is a tractor) make this short and sweet book a winner. The illustrations are simple and bold, effortlessly capturing the fearless inquisitiveness that chickens can display.
Hungry Hen by Richard Waring, illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church


If you and your kids like the hen book par excellence, Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins, I’m sure you’ll love Hungry Hen. A hungry fox knows the whereabouts of a delicious looking hen. Every day the hen grows a little bigger and the fox repeatedly tells himself that if he waits just one more day the hen will be even bigger and more satisfying to gobble up. Eventually he can wait no more and rushes down the hill at break neck speed into the hen coop. Without wishing to give the very funny ending away, let me just say that the outcome reminded me of the sort of twist you might find in a tale from Aesop. The pace and the rising tension make this a brilliant read aloud and the colourful, uncluttered illustrations are much loved by M and J.

Our simple craft alongside all these books was to paint some eggcups for Granny to use. We got hold of some blank wooden ones, painted them with acrylic paints, then varnished them.

For younger readers and listeners Hungry Hen and Minerva Louise are perfect – both *** (3 stars). For older readers The Problem with Chickens is a fun ** (2 star) read, whilst Daisy Comes Home has to be another book worth *** (3 stars).

Chicken music that will make you cluck:

  • Chickens Playing Bongos by The Biscuit Brothers
  • Ain’t Nobody Here but Us Chickens by Buck Howdy With BB
  • I Know A Chicken by Laurie Berkner
  • My Old Hen’s Good Old Hen by Peggy Seeger
  • The Old Hen by Pete Seeger
  • UPDATE! Philadelphia Chicken by Sandra Boynton – Thanks to everyone who suggested adding this to the list :-)

  • Chicken activities that look great fun:

  • Make these great Colorful Clucking Chickens from Se7en
  • Learn How to Draw a Hen and Chicks from Art Projects for Kids
  • Create a Hand Print Hen just like No Time for Flash Cards

  • Before you go, don’t miss this review of a fab sounding book of chicken poetry from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.


    Do you keep chickens? Would you like to? What chicken books (for kids or adults) can you recommend?

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    16 Responses

    1. I would love to keep chickens! I don’t have any chicken books to add, but I do have to reccoment Sandra Boynton’s “Philadelphia Chickens” to your music list. It’s a favourite with kids of all ages!

    2. Andi beat me to it. “Philadelphia Chickens” really should be at the head of any list on the subject. It’s a book and a CD.

    3. I actually thought about it, but couldn’t convince my husband. He looked at me like I’m crazy! :) I love the Jan Brett book, but haven’t read any of your other suggestions. Looks like the kids are enjoying the chicken books.

    4. Andi, Harriet,

      Thanks so much for the tip about Philadephia Chickens – I’ve added it to the list :-)

      Jen,

      Yes, I think my Dad took some convincing on the chicken front so I know where you’re coming from!

    5. Zoe, this is a great list of books about a subject my youngest loves! Thanks for the recommendations.

      I have one for you, too, though it is longer story (still a picture book, but full pages of text): Hanne’s Quest, by Olivier Dunrea. Hanne is a chicken that goes on an epic journey. Seriously! :) My daughter and I loved reading this book when it first came out, and I’m planning to get it again for my youngest to hear soon.
      [img]http://www.playingbythebook.net/wp-content/uploads//book_hannesquest.jpg[/img]

    6. Great list! We love anything by Jan Brett. We visited a local farm recently to buy some fresh meat and my girls had a blast holding the baby chicks. I’ll have to keep this list in mind next time we go. :)

    7. I would love to have chickens. We had them as a child. My brother and I use to love collecting slaters for them to eat. We also spend a fortune on free range eggs. My big issue with keeping them is that if you are prepared to keep them you have to be prepared to euthenase them when the time comes.
      just last week our librarian read “Kip” by Christina Booth. It’s a lovely story with beautiful colourful illustrations about a rooster whose crowing upsets the neighbours. Then when he is taken away the neighbours miss him. It’s been nominated for Children’s Book Council of Australia’s picture book of the Year (Early Childhood).

    8. Hi Fiddler,

      I’m definitely going to look for Hanne’s Quest . It’s not in our library system but maybe it will turn up somewhere else! Thanks for the tip.

      Hi Christianne,

      Holding little chicks – it doesn’t get much better than that does it!

      Hi Kristine,

      I don’t know what my mum’s feelings are about what happens at the end… I shall have to ask her. What are slaters? A quick google search hasn’t yielded much clarification… Christina Booth’s Purinina is in our library system so I’ve just reserved that – not at all about chickens, but looks interesting – have you and your girls read it?

    9. Slaters are little crustaceans that live in the soil. When you pick them up they roll into a tight little ball.
      http://museumvictoria.com.au/discoverycentre/infosheets/-crustaceans-at-the-bottom-of-the-garden/
      I hadn’t heard of Christina Booth before last Tuesday but I’ll check out my library. You’ll have to tell me whether you enjoy Purinina.

    10. Hi Kristine,

      Aah Woodlice! Got it. The word for woodlice in Dutch was one of M’s first words – she was fascinated by them when she was little!

    11. We just visited some friends in Seattle who keep chickens and are now considering keeping our own so this is a timely post. Has your mom found that the eggs laid by each chicken have distinctly different markings/colors? I don’t know why (haven’t spent much time around chickens and have always bought my eggs at the store, I guess) but that surprised me. If we end up going forward with our chicken keeping plans I’ll have to check out some of these books for the boys.

      Funny, I’ve never heard the term woodlice before. We’ve always called them pill bugs or potato bugs! My kids love to watch them.

    12. Hi Katie,
      I’ll have to ask my mum if they lay different eggs (Or Mum – you could post a comment!). It wouldn’t surprise me as she has two different types of chicken. Have fun with your chicken dreaming / planning!

    13. Thanks for linking us – I love your chicken post – totally fabulous!!! Have a great weekend!!!

    14. Your Mum may like this: http://onelittleegg.co.uk/
      yasmin coleman recently posted..Drawn on the 4th July…

    15. Hi! I found your blog post while looking for baby chick ideas for a storytime.

      I would like to invite you to link your post to my Eggs and Chicks ABC’S Blog Hop. The ABC’S stands for Activities, Books, Crafts, and Snacks which are all things I share on my site for parents of young children. I think your post would fit right in with several areas, don’t you?

      Here is the link to my blog hop post: http://librarystorytimeabcs.blogspot.com/2012/04/eggs-and-chicks-abcs-blog-hop.html

      I hope you will link up with us!
      K @ Storytime Fun recently posted..Eggs and Chicks ABC’S Blog Hop

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