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15 Gardening Books for Children



by Cindy Anderson


I have been fortunate enough to have grown up surrounded by people who were always ready to recommend a book to read.


I have several aunts and uncles who were always reading and they always shared suggestions with me and each other. My one uncle was a theology professor and he had a personal library with thousands of books. I was in awe as I perused the shelves every time I was in his home. My grandmother was an insatiable reader. My aunt and I would shop at garage sales and purchase boxes of books and bring them home to her. She would sort through them and save different ones for specific people in the family. On my eighth birthday, she gave me a book of poetry illustrated by Tasha Tudor. I read that book every night, memorized the poems, and studied the illustrations. I fell in love with poetry because of that book. Because of these wonderful people, I became the kid who read with a flashlight under my covers because I couldn’t go to sleep until I found out what happened next. 


Although I appreciate books of all kinds, I have always had an affinity for children’s books. The combination of carefully worded texts and the art of illustration has always captured me. In college, however, I learned to read books through a more reflective lens. One of the best assignments I was ever given was to read 100 picture books and record my thoughts. It was then that I realized that there is a vast variety in children’s books. It was then that I decided to keep a record of all of the books I loved. I still check out children’s books from my local library and have been keeping a record of all of my favorites ever since. I share these lists with young families and teachers, and now with the Rabbit Room community. 


I believe the best way to foster young readers is to present them with the best of the best in children’s literature. Below you will find just such a list focused on the theme of gardening. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, spring has arrived and the weather is beckoning us outdoors.


The books are worthy of your bookshelves. They are beautifully written and they honor and respect their reader. They are written for children and are also enjoyed by adults. They have beautiful art and illustrations throughout, the kind of art that makes readers pause to take in the page.


I hope these books inspire you to work in your garden, plant some flower pots, and go for a walk through a park. 



The Gardener by Sarah Stewart


This is one of my favorite stories. It makes me think of my own grandmother who always sent me seeds from her plants.


Young Lydia Grace lives during the Great Depression and needs to leave the country and live with her uncle in the city. She packs her suitcase with everything she needs, including seeds. She exchanges letters with her family discussing plants, seeds, and how flowers are brightening up her new home.



Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney


Alice Rumphius, who longed to travel the world and make it more beautiful, scatters lupine seeds everywhere she goes. The countless lupines that bloom along the coast of Maine are the legacy of the Lupine Lady, Miss Rumphius. 




Celia Planted a Garden by Phyllis Root and Gary Schmidt


This beautiful book tells the story of Celia Thaxter; an 18th-century gardener, writer, artist, poet, and designer. When she was 12 years old her family moved to Appledore Island off the coast of Maine where her father built a hotel.


While there she planted beautiful gardens and met the likes of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Nathanial Hawthorne, and other famous writers. The vivid illustrations with hand-drawn samples of her writing make this book a keeper. 



Harlem Grown by Tony Hillery


This is the story of Tony Hillery, founder of Harlem Grown, who leads the way in taking an abandoned, litter-filled lot and turning it into a lush urban farm. Students join in on the project and a big idea transforms their neighborhood. There are now 12 of these urban farms in NYC. The illustrations fit this inspiring, and educational story perfectly. 



We Are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines


This book by Joanna Gaines describes the steps it takes for her family to take care of their garden. She shares the ups and downs of planting a garden, and teaches that hard work brings a great reward. This book has sweet, simple text and charming illustrations. 




This is a beautifully illustrated biography of George Washington Carver. Born a slave, he grew to be a brilliant scientist, botanist, professor, inventor, and agricultural expert. He started his education by creating and observing the plants and animals in his own secret garden. 



And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano


It’s the end of winter, and a boy and his dog decide they no longer want to see brown everywhere, so they decide to plant a garden. This is written with simple text for young readers. It’s a sweet story about the anticipation of spring and seeing growing things. 



A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston


This book (and all the books in this series) have eye-catching, detailed illustrations (Even the endpapers are thoughtfully done.) It’s an excellent introduction to seeds; how they grow, develop, and disperse. 




Here is a book for pre-schoolers that teaches what is above and below the dirt in a garden. Join a young girl and her grandmother as they work together to grow and harvest their garden. This book has charming illustrations and great information. 



 

I wanted to mention a few favorite chapter books that take place in gardens or around gardens.



And here are some wonderful resources for parents and teachers about plants and gardening with children.




 

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