By Susannah Felts
A few mornings ago, we woke up to see an unwelcome surprise outside the window. “Is that snow?” Thalia asked me. “Why is it snowing if it’s spring?” Oh, to see a child’s blossoming ability for logic confounded by the irrationalities of the natural world!
“That’s a good question,” I muttered.
The white stuff was just the latest weather-related road block to our gardening ambitions. So to keep Thalia’s enthusiasm stoked until Mother Nature decides to quit messing with our expectations and allows spring to truly arrive, we’ve been spending a lot of time cuddling on the couch, reading some wonderful garden-themed books for kids. Here are four of our favorites:
Water, Weed, and Wait
written by Edith Hope Fine and Angela Halpin, illustrated by Colleen M. Madden
We’ve read this book countless times. In it, the kids at Pepper Lane Elementary reclaim a vacant lot near their school and plant several raised beds with flowers and veggies. But the big snag, as the kids see it, is the grouch next door, Mr. Barkley. As it turns out, though, Barkley knows his gardening—and when the kids’ teacher, the ebullient Miss Marigold, ropes him into helping with the project, he shows a softer side. This book is a great way to give young readers a sense of the basic necessities of gardening (hence the title), plus there are some handy resources and tips at the end for parents.
Secrets of the Garden: Food Chains and the Food Web in Our Backyard
written by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld, illustrated by Priscilla Lamont
The story of one family’s garden, complete with chickens whose poop is contributed to the compost, this book is chock-full of useful and interesting details for little gardeners, with a broad message about how all creatures are connected in a garden’s ecosystem. “In our garden home,” the young narrator reflects, “we make way for the neighbors — for the rabbits, birds, spiders, and beetles. It is their summer home, too.”
Jam & Honey
written by Melita Morales, illustrated by Laura J. Bryant
While it’s not about gardening per se, this book is a lovely way to help kids conquer their fear of bees. The story is simple: While picking berries, a little girl encounters a bee among the bushes — but soon realizes that she shouldn’t be scared. The story, written in sweetly sing-songy rhyme, is told in two parts: first from the girl’s point of view, and then from the bee’s, which shows readers that the bee is as alarmed by the girl as she is by it. In the end, the girl goes home and enjoys bread with jam and honey.
Ready for Pumpkins
(written and illustrated by Kate Duke )
We got this book around Halloween, but it’s great for reading right now, as it shows young readers how pumpkins get their start in the spring and grow through the summer. The “gardener” in this tale is a first-grade classroom’s guinea pig named Hercules, who spends summer vacation at the teacher’s parents’ farm – and learns to do a little growing for himself.