I love literature for how it plants the seeds of ideas. Here, then, are some of my favorite gardening story books for sharing with the children in my life. I’d love to hear your recommendations, too. (Book cover images are courtesy of www.amazon.com.)
How Groundhog’s Garden Grew
By Lynne Cherry
Elementary ages. The author writes in her dedication, “In loving memory of my father, who taught me to grown my own.” So sets the tone of this delightful story about a squirrel who teaches a groundhog how to grow his own garden instead of mooching food from his neighbors. This book is highly educational about the growing process, complete with meticulously detailed illustrations of seeds, plants and insects.
Busy in the Garden
Poems by George Shannon
Pictures by Sam Williams
All ages – although children who can understand puns will enjoy it the most. These poems are a hoot! This one, called “Blue Ribbon,” demonstrates:
To grow the size
that wins a prize,
it’s always wise
By Ruth Brown
For the very young. With sparse words and vivid illustrations, this book takes a mathematical look at the journey of a packet of sunflower seeds from planting to harvest, and all the surprising hazards in between.
A Garden Alphabet
By Isabel Wilner
Pictures by Ashley Wolff
Preschool and up. A dog and a frog are hard at work in their garden while sneaky rabbits lurk on nearly every page. The verse is crisp and fun. “Ff is for frog, a gardener’s friend. For unwelcome insects, his tongue snaps The End.”
We Love the Dirt
By Tony Johnston and Alexa Brandenberg
Early readers. Although not a gardening story, per se, this book cleverly describes all the relationships different objects and people have to the dirt, reinforcing its very important role on the farm.
Planting a Rainbow
By Lois Ehlert
Preschool and up. This book showcases Ehlert’s signature style in bold, solid color collage cut-outs, and is a great way for children to learn to identify different plants. Similar books by the same author are Eating the Alphabet and Growing Vegetable Soup. We cooked the soup recipe in the latter book, and it was tasty.
The Secret Garden
By Frances Hodgson Burnett
Older grades to adult -- although quite suitable and engaging to read aloud to younger children.
I absolutely love this book. I like to pull it off the bookshelf when I am just so sick of winter, I think it will never end. Mary Lennox is a cold, hardened orphan transplanted from India to England. Watching her transform as she finds and cultivates a secret garden is a tonic indeed. Consider this passage: “Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow.”