Great gardening books for kids
After this year’s long winter, surely even the most snow-obsessed child will welcome those first patches of brown grass peeking out from under the melting mounds of ice. And if one thing signals spring more than any other, it is those first buds revealing themselves from the ground, their vibrant green a stark contrast to the desolate colours around them.
Although the spring thaw may hint at warmer days ahead, it still takes time to get through the inevitable rainy, muddy days. In the meantime, parents might want to teach kids the true meaning of spring by introducing them to gardening. Looking at those first flowers bursting out of the ground helps kids understand the cycle of nature and the intricate process of seasonal revitalization. By planting seeds, children have the opportunity to watch a minuscule living object gradually transform itself into a majestic plant that might even bloom or make fruit. The following books might just help your little one develop a love of gardening.
Ages 3 to 4
One Little Seed (Viking, $16.50) by Elaine Greenstein
This colourful little book shows what happens to a sunflower seed that is planted and tended to. Each page illustrates one step in the process that ends with the seed blooming into a glorious sunflower. The author uses short, melodic verse to help young children grasp the concept of nature as a living and breathing entity. The large brush-stroked illustrations show aspects of growth in close-up detail and the vibrant colours and simplicity of the drawings convey a sense of celebration for the miracles of nature.
The Tiny Seed (Simon and Schuster, $6.95) by Eric Carle
The much-loved children’s author and illustrator Eric Carle explores the life of a seed as it tries to grow into a plant. Young readers learn how seeds are scattered into the air by strong winds or get eaten by birds. Only a few lucky seeds manage to burrow into the ground, eventually sending up delicate and tender shoots. Carle has created a gentle, insightful look at the cycle of life that teaches children about the need for resilience as they find their place in the world.
Ages 5 to 7
A Seed is Sleepy (Chronicle Books, $18.95) by Diana Hutts Aston
This book takes a more scientific yet equally poetic approach to plant life. Author Hutts-Aston introduces readers to a variety of seeds and how each one grows. Whether discussing drift seeds that float on water or dandelions seeds that fly on the tails of the wind, the author shows how the beautiful variety of plants that surround us come into being by following an individual path. The book includes painted illustrations that truly bring each seed to life and make it possible to identify seeds and plants in your garden or local park.
First Garden Activity Book (Dorling Kindersley, $11.99)
If children already have an understanding of how seeds grow, they might want to create their own garden or at least pot a few plants. This book, filled with bright pictures and illustrations, offers plenty of ideas for getting kids’ hands dirty in the garden. For example, readers learn about creating fruit and vegetable plots as well as how to grow bulbs and cacti. Best of all, the book encourages young gardeners to experiment with seeds they find locally, whether in a piece of fruit or from their own backyards.
Ages 8 to 9
Weslandia (Candlewick Press, $9.99) by Paul Fleischman
This book presents the healing powers of plants through the eyes of Wesley, a young boy who is bullied at school. After learning about the dispersion and life cycle of seeds, he decides to prepare a plot of land in the hope of seeds landing there. After a few days some mysterious buds emerge from the earth and Wesley takes solace in tending to them. He eventually becomes empowered by what he has created and slowly begins to develop the confidence he needs to move forward in his life.
Charlotte in Giverny (Chronicle Books, $8.95) by Joan MacPhail Knight
Giverny is the small French town where impressionist painter Claude Monet built the magnificent gardens that inspired so many of his paintings. Readers follow a young American girl who, at the end of the 19th century, travels to Giverny with her father, a painter in search of inspiration. Charlotte witnesses firsthand the inspiring beauty of Monet’s garden but also turns her hand to creating a vegetable garden. Making things grow helps alleviate the loneliness she feels being away from home.