Monday I posted some suggestions for books that might pique a child’s interest in birding. Today, I focus on books for budding gardeners. As I mentioned, I have a granddaughter. While she’s only seven months old, I plan to waste no time introducing her to the wonderful world of flowers, bugs, and dirt!
I confess… I’ve been buying books for this child before she was ever conceived. I’d see something, rationalize that it might be out of print by the time I have grandchildren, and stash it away for future use.
There are many more children’s books on gardening than there are on birding. That makes sense—gardening is more of a hands-on activity, and even the youngest toddler is thrilled to make mud pies or squat down to watch a snail slide by. My list here is by no means exhaustive. These are just books that caught my attention, and that look like they might be fun. Again, I highly value your input. Are there books that you can recommend to us newbie grandparents?
The Tiny Seed, by Eric Carle (age 3 and up). Carle is also the author of 70 or so other books, including The Very Hungry Caterpillar, one of the best books for kids ever, so you would expect this book to be terrific—and it is. I found it in a store ages ago and bought it hoping that one day I’d have someone special to give it to. The life cycle of a flower, from seed to seedling to plant to flower to seed, is told with bright illustrations, suspense and wonder. I think the biology teacher in me particularly appreciates the accurate way story describes seed dispersal and survival of the fittest—or the luckiest! Now I just hope I can remember where I stashed the book!
And the Good Brown Earth, by Kathy Henderson (age 3 and up). I admit, I have not read this book yet, but I am eager to do so. It got rave reviews on every website that listed it. Two things caught my attention. First, the whole family, three generations, work together to create their garden. As a new grandma, that got my attention. And second, the publisher’s blurb explains that they dig in the fall, plan in the winter, sow in the spring, tend the garden in the summer, and harvest at the end of the growing season. For years—in my gardening talks, classes, and here on my blog—I’ve been urging gardeners to dig in the fall, for lots of good reasons. This looks like a lovely story, and good gardening advice!
The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss (age 4 and up). This classic book has been around forever. It’s a short story about a boy who plants a carrot seed. The adults tell him it will never grow, but with his care and a lot of patience, it not only sprouts, but it becomes a huge carrot. The obvious moral is that you can succeed even when others tell you that you can’t. However, the book also teaches another useful lesson when planting seeds with a child—seeds take time to germinate, and the results are worth waiting for.
There’s a Hair in My Dirt! A Worm’s Story, by Gary Larson. Yes, this is the same Gary Larson we know and love for his creation of The Far Side. I have sorely missed his talking cows and women in pointy glasses (just like my grandmother’s!), so I was thrilled to discover this book. I was not disappointed. It’s a story to encourage invertebrates everywhere. While this isn’t exactly a book written for small children, the illustrations are funny at any age, and I guarantee that the adults will want to read this (to their kids or on their own) over and over.
Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children, by Sharon Lovejoy
Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma’s Bag of Tricks, by Sharon Lovejoy
Both of these books by Sharon Lovejoy are written as inspiration for the adults in a child’s life. They are crammed with ideas about how to make gardening an adventure. The first book describes a series of theme gardens with kid appeal—a pizza garden, a leafy teepee, etc.
The second book says “Grandma” on it, but it’s really for anyone who loves kids and wants to have fun with them. Both feed the imagination in the most wonderful ways. Let’s build a home for the garden fairies! What’s under that rock? We grew it—how do we cook it?
Gardening with Children (pictured at top). I have not read this book, published by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, but several other gardeners proclaim it the best-ever book on gardening with children. If our granddaughter lived closer (she’s almost 1,500 miles away), I’d snap this up in a heartbeat. One of these days, I just might send this to our daughter instead.
There are hundreds more books I could share, but I have to stop somewhere. However, I just have to include a link to a website I’m coming to love: Delightful Children’s Books. Their list of “10 Children’s Books About Gardening” sounds so enticing, I want to buy every one. Thankfully, there are libraries, or I’d be broke!
Finally, let me repeat what I asked above—which books would you recommend for a gardening grandma and her new granddaughter to read together in the years ahead?