Nothing beats getting out into the garden with children, showing them how plants grow and how bugs and critters have a positive relationship with them. But when the weather is cold or rainy, or it's just too early to get into the garden, there's nothing like a good gardening book to get my children primed for planting season. Here are our favorites.
#4. Garden Partners by Diana Palmisciano. This sweet book is the tale of a young girl who plants a vegetable garden with her grandmother. Gram's ways are old fashioned (much to one neighbor's head-shaking), but the resulting garden is bountiful. As readers, we feel the anticipation of the little girl as she helps prepare the bed, plant seeds, water them carefully...then waits and waits for them to grow. Ages 4 - 8 (although my daughter loved this book even as a toddler).
#3. Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayres. This colorful, fun book is perfect for kids from preschool through about first grade. It helps teach directions (like up and down), but also offers a great glimpse of how vegetables grow - and how yummy they are. My kids love spotting the bugs (many of them underground), seeing root crops from an underground perspective, and arguing about which veggies taste the best.
#2. How Groundhog's Garden Grew by Lynne Cherry. If you only buy one gardening picture book for your kids, let it be this one. It's gorgeous, as well as educational and fun. Groundhog is caught eating veggies from other critter's gardens, so squirrel teaches him how to plant his own. They begin by collecting seeds from plants, then storing them while the animals hibernate in the winter. Groundhog wakes up in late winter and sees his shadow; he goes back to sleep, but squirrel later wakes him saying the potatoes are sprouting. They plant their garden, tend it, then share the harvest with their animal friends. Throughout, the author showcases amazing vegetable gardens and the endpapers and edges of many pages feature plants in various stages, from seed, to sprout, to bloom, to harvestable - all labeled so you know what plant is featured. For children from about 4 to 8 (although I love looking through it, too!).
# 1. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Actually, #1 and #2 are ties in our house. But for children who are ready to read or listen to a book with fewer pictures, none will get them as excited about gardening as this classic tale of a miserable little girl who goes to live with her uncle and discovers a locked, hidden garden. There is much more to this story than gardening, but children will learn about gardening and plant growth reading this tale.