Tuttle's Red Barn

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Tuttle's Red Barn Book Poster Image
Family farm story will cultivate love of history.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

People work hard and help one another.

Violence & Scariness

Some reference to wars with the Native Americans and the American Revoluton, but nothing graphic.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, as this story follows the Tuttle farm through 12 generations, it traces the development of the United States from the days of the early settler to the present time. Readers get a good sense of important milestones in American history.

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What's the story?

For more than four centuries, 12 generations of the Tuttle family have kept their family farm alive and productive. Each 2-4 page spread tells the story of each generation, and focuses on ways they were affected by changes in America, and how they adapted their lives to those changes.

Is it any good?

Young readers will be drawn in by the simple, straightforward, informative prose, especially since it's told from the viewpoint of each of the 12 boys that grew up to take over the farm. Together with colorful and unique woodcut prints whose style changes with each new era, that voice brings to life important events that shaped our country's history. And the experiences of each generation provide a perfect jumping-off spot for further study about early settlers, the American Revolution, Underground Railroad, the Industrial Revolution, and so on.

Today, the red barn on Tuttle's farm is a thriving roadside market with an adjacent nursery that is a favorite stopping off point for customers seeking fresh fruits and vegetables. But it started out as a wild stretch of land that John Tuttle cleared and plowed shortly after having been stranded along the east coast in the 1600s. From very humble beginnings, the farm, and those that tended it, grew and changed as one generation after another worked to make it successful. Amazingly, the farm stayed in the Tuttle family and now has the distinction of being "the oldest continuing family farm in America."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how it would be to land in a new land, carrying only two pewter candlesticks and an ax as did the first Tuttle in the 1600s. How would you even survive? Then, following each generation, families can talk about what was going on in our country, learn how the Tuttle family reacted, and talk about how the farm, and the Tuttles, grew and changed throughout all those years, and events. Why did the farm always pass to the youngest boy in the family? Did any of girls have a role on the farm?

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