“Mom, this is fun.” My teenager dug into the soft earth with her shovel. In Florida, the dirt is extra sandy, so the earth must be tilled and compost added.
Tired of watching from the sidelines, my nine-year-old piped up. “Can I have a turn?”
Even my youngest wanted to stick her hands in the dirt, adding an enjoyable sensory experience to her day. And, then my sensory sensitive middle son, helped making holes to plant the seeds.
It was a “Team Griese” effort, all of us working together to make our garden grow. Now, all it needed was rain (or watering with the sprinkler every other day) and sunshine. In about 100 days, beans, peas, lettuce, tomatoes, and a few others we wanted to try will be ready to eat!
Gardening can be hard work but with proper planning, the right tools, and plenty of seeds children will be eager to help create a little sanctuary in your backyard.
Good for the body, mind, and soul, gardening strengthens muscles, relieves stress, and helps children focus.
Books are the perfect way to prepare children for making a garden of their own. Excitement builds as they picture the tiny seeds bursting into life under the ground.
Here are ten gardening books for growing kids with green thumbs.
- The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle. For our smallest gardeners, Carle tells the tale of the life cycle of a flower. With paper mosaics of bright, bold colors and simple, yet rhythmic prose, this one is sure to be read again and again.
- A Fairy Went A-Marketing by Rose Fyleman, with pictures by Jamichael Henterly. A lovely, lovely book about a wee fairy going to the farmer’s market and with each purchase, she has a change of heart. A story of kindness, compassion, and love.
- Eating the Alphabet. Lois Elhert presents a wonderful introduction to fruits and veggies for our younger children with each letter of the alphabet. Not only will they learn the names, but they’ll develop an appreciation for their beauty and a desire to try them all.
- From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons. I love every book Gibbons has authored and illustrated for preschoolers on up. Her simple line drawings filled with eye-catching colors, brings clarity to what’s going on underneath the ground in your garden.
- A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Aston. Don’t let the picture-book style of this book fool you. Its gorgeous drawings coupled with free verse poetry, will captivate both toddlers and teens and all ages between. Before the first page of poetry, the outer pages are filled with an assortment of seeds which are labeled for children who wish to learn their different names.
- National Geographic’s Seed to Plant is a great book for any age with mesmerizing pictures and short, attention grabbing explanations. Even the youngest child will love to gaze at the vivid photography in this easy-to-follow book.
- Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World by Julia Rothman is like six or more books rolled into one. Conservationism, botany, art, earth science, anatomy, zoology, … every detail in the drawings are labeled for children’s growing vocabulary. Even an element of art can be added if children wish to trace or copy whatever strikes their interest.
- Vegetables in the Garden, a Scholastic First Discovery Book, has colorful, layered pictures showing the different parts of vegetables growing from the plant on top of the soil to the roots beneath the earth. A favorite series of mine (my kids love The Egg), kids delight in lifting the next page to see the surprise underneath.
- Roots, Shoots, Buckets, and Boots by Sharon Lovejoy. For creative gardeners, Lovejoy gives brilliant ways to add flair to the average garden and make it extraordinary.
- Gardening Wizardry for Kids by L. Patricia Kite. This unique book shares the history behind our veggies along with how to grow many of them in your own home. An element of science is added when children experiement with different seeds.
After planting these seeds of knowledge in your children’s minds and hearts, you’ll have the know-how and confidence to go outside and start growing your own backyard paradise.