Winter may be in full swing, but the weather here in NC isn’t buying it. We’ve had a week of 60 degree days, and it has me in total spring garden planning mode. I’m having to restrain myself from getting out there and planting seeds. I know winter will rear it’s icy head in the next week or so, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get excited about what spring will hold. One way to get myself geared up is to encourage my kids to come on board with planning our spring garden. It’s so important for kids to know where food comes from and how it grows. The grocery store, though convenient, isn’t a farm, and I want the kids to know all about how food grows.
We visit our local library every week because Boy Gardener devours books and the library is a wealth of information for whatever we happen to be studying. I homeschool the little gardeners and learning about gardening is part of our curriculum each year. How do I keep them excited about it each year? Picture books! No matter how old they get, there’s something about the way a picture book brings a story to life. Wired magazine had a great article about why we should still read picture books to older kids. You should definitely check it out.
I’ve posted before about garden books we love, and as it happens, we’ve discovered some new garden gems over the past year. Here’s what we’ve uncovered:
- Secrets of the Garden by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld- This book is a total favorite for all of the detail that it gives on planting, growing, and the food chains that exist in our very own backyards. The illustrations are fun and keep the reader (and listeners) searching the page to find everything they can. If you have a backyard garden with chickens, then your kids will feel like this book was written just for them! This book would also be a wonderful reference resource for any students researching gardening, food webs, composting, etc.
- If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson- Prepare to be blown away by the beauty of the this book’s illustrations. The author illustrated the book himself, and did so through paintings. If you look closely at some of the pages, you can actually see the texture of the canvas he originally painted on. While the book is about planting seeds, the message goes further than that to focus on planting and growing seeds of kindness, which is a relevant message for all children. I know my kids always need reminders on why kindness matters. Bonus: If your child is an artist, they will appreciate several wordless pages within this book, and I’d encourage them to draw or paint some pages of their own.
- Sleep Tight Farm by Eugenie Doyle- For teaching kids about how farms work, this book is the best hands down. How do farms prepare for winter? Your kids will get a clear picture in the beautifully illustrated pages. I found myself learning a lot about all of the work that goes into the off season. The illustrations in this book depict a picturesque New England farm, and my kids loved them!
- If You Hold a Seed by Elly Mackay- Gardening holds so many valuable lessons that can be used in other areas of our lives, and this book embraces that truth. Elly MacKay uses seeds as a comparison of what it means to plant and nurture a dream. What child doesn’t have a dream, even if it seems a bit far-fetched? As parents and teachers, one of the best parts of our job is to nurture those dreams, just like garden seeds.
- Runaway Tomato by Kim Cooley Reeder- I’ve saved the funniest book for last. While this isn’t a gardening book per se, there’s plenty to learn about teamwork (and seeds) in these hilarious pages. The illustrations are very retro, and my kids enjoyed the over-the-top tomato and all of the antics that went along with it. If your kids need help believing that vegetables can be fun, look no further!
Grab these books from Amazon or even better, your local library! If your library doesn’t carry them, just ask. I know our library is always looking for great book suggestions, especially for the children’s area. I’d love to know if you have favorite garden books that you read to your kids!