The snow is gone and the air is warm. Finally! April showers bring May flowers. It’s the time of year when many people enjoy gardening. Some people garden alone and some people garden with their families. Most children love the gardening experience-especially preschool and elementary-aged children. They love the fact that they have an important job to do, whether it be digging a hole and dropping in seeds, picking weeds or watering flowers. Besides-at what other time are they encouraged to get down in the dirt? If you have young children, consider planting a garden, or allow them to help with the one you already have. It’s a valuable way to spend your time with a child. They’ll enjoy the time with you, while also learning new things about plants, soil, butterflies and more! And won’t you enjoy their excitement as the flowers they planted go into full bloom? When you’re done gardening for the day, sit down and read a book that goes along with the experience. All of the following books are available in our library system, so you and your children can check some out (or place holds on) them next time you visit the library!
In colorful pictures, a mother and child plant flowers in the family garden. Bulbs, seeds, and plants sprout and grow into a rainbow of blossoms. The plant bulbs are labeled in the ground, so children can see differences between a yellow daffodil bulb and a purple crocus corm. The labels remain so children can observe the differences in the plants as they continue to grow. Children also enjoy turning the pages of the rainbow and seeing the corresponding colors of the flowers.
Zinnia’s Flower Garden
By Monica Wellington
Zinnia plants a garden, eagerly waits for the plants to grow, sells the beautiful flowers, then gathers the seeds to plant the following year. A great book to show the children everything that goes into planting a garden and the time it takes for it to flourish. It also shows the life of a garden year round, not just spring and summer. This book is also loaded with tidbits of information such as the types of clouds, the life cycle of a butterfly, parts of a flower, and money math (Zinnia runs a lemonade and flower stand). Wellington wraps up the tale with a page of tips for growing one’s own bouquets. I’ve found that this book is also appropriate for younger elementary age children.
Bumblebee, Bumblebee, Do You Know Me?
By Anne Rockwell
This is not only a story, but a guessing game as well! I read this in storytime one week, and the children had so much fun guessing the flowers described on the pages. Especially the page about the sunflower-where they learned this flower grows taller than them! Not only does this book teach flower names, but also about insects and even colors. Children love flowers, bugs and games…so this one is sure to be a hit with your preschooler.
Quiet in the Garden
A young boy describes what he sees and hears when he sits still in his lush backyard. The quiet garden is teeming with life, and the boy imagines noisy conversations among the small animals he observes. Kids seem to enjoy the detailed pictures with close-up scenes of the boy, surrounded by flowering plants and small companions. This book almost reads like a poem and children enjoy the rhythm. The thing I like the most about this book is how it teaches that there is a lot to be observed and experienced if one simply takes the time to listen to the quiet.
By Henry Cole
This book shows each step to planting a garden and then what the seeds (and garden creatures) do from that point on. Children observe the soil from above and below as the garden progresses throughout the season. The names of the plants and animals are labeled neatly and best of all, the classic children’s poem, “The House That Jack Built” is modified into catchy text for each picture which makes understanding a garden ecosystem effortless for kids.
By Kevin Henkes
The girl in this book grows chocolate rabbits, tomatoes as big as beach balls, flowers that change color, and seashells in her garden. The carrots are invisible because she doesn’t like them. When I read this one to a group of children, they were hooked from page one. This book makes them laugh, and also encourages creativity. It’s fun to ask a child what they would plant if they had a magic garden like the one in this book. You’ll no doubt get a kick out of their responses!
Here are some other books with a garden theme that you might enjoy. Happy gardening! (and reading, of course!)
By Anita Lobel
My Day in the Garden
By Miela Ford
Holly Bloom’s Garden
By Sarah Ashman
By Douglas Florian
By Eve Bunting
Down in the Garden
By Anne Geddes
In My Garden
By Ron Maris