Blog, Seasons and Holidays

10 Gardening Books for Growing Kids With Green Thumbs

GARDEN

“Mom, this is actually 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 with an unsharpened pencil.

With a “Team Griese” effort, all of us worked together to make our garden grow. Now, all it needed was rain (or watering with the sprinkler every other day) and sunshine. My the grace of God, in about 100 days, beans, peas, lettuce, tomatoes, and a few  others we wanted to try will be ready to eat!

048Gardening 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.

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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.

  1. 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.

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  2. 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.

  3. 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.111

  4. 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.097

  5. A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Aston.

    Don’t let the picture-book style of this book fool you. The 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.

  6. National Geographic’s Seed to Plant

    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.gardenbooks

  7. Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World by Julia Rothman

    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.

  8. Vegetables in the Garden

    A Scholastic First Discovery Book, colorful, layered pictures show the different parts of vegetables growing from the plant above 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.boots

  9. 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.

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  10. 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.

Blog, Middle Grade Fiction (ages 8-12)

How to Plan a Book-Driven Trip

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A good book is a break from reality, an escape from the day- to-day into the extraordinary. And, taking a book-driven family trip can bring the words on a page into real life.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Yearling, made her home in Florida and fell in love with this land and its people.

Reading through this novel with my teen was the perfect opportunity to plan a book-driven “field trip” together.

First, we looked up all the diverse flora, fauna, and food described in the book.

Like, what are cow peascorn pone, and ham hock?

What is a flutter-mill (seen on the Disney film), a demi-john, and a feist?

And, what ever happened to the Florida Red Wolf?

Another good read for younger children to tie-in with The Yearling is Lost in the Woods. For added fun, kids can try to find the “wolf shadow” in the middle of the book.

For ecology, we studied the Indian River Lagoon (which has free interactive learning tools here), and it brought back sweet memories.

One summer when I was a young teen, my sister and I waded into the Indian River, combing through the muddy bottom in search for clams. We picked them up using our toes and had a clam bake dinner with my dad.

Now to find a yearling! A trip to the Brevard Zoo’s Florida wildlife exhibit was in order.

Who are these silly sea turtles?

In one exhibit, we were able to see a real live Red Wolf. These endangered species can be elusive; it kept dodging my camera.

Finally, I got one good shot.

Imagine meeting one of these in your backyard! The red wolf were hunted until there are no longer any left in the wild in Florida. The only other dangerous creatures left are Florida Panthers, our plethora of poisonous snakes, and one other reptile… 

The Florida Gator.
Not the football players in orange and blue, the scaly creatures leftover from when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
That’s about as close as I’ll let my children get to one. And there has to be a good fence!

Gator tail is a “tailgating” appetizer now, but in The Yearling, it was smoked and made into dog food. Maybe in old Florida, people didn’t think it tasted just like chicken.
Check out the tail on this one …

Rather than spotting a real yearling, we got an up close encounter with a doe much older than one year. Still, she was a friendly one who ate the dog-food-sized snacks we had bought from the coin vending machine right out of our hands.

Here’s one more animal at the zoo not native to Florida, but I couldn’t help sharing…
Was this ‘the end’ of a fantastic week in reading Florida books and visiting related wildlife?
Not quite…

On the way back home, as we rocked out to “The Ballad of Jody Baxter” (an Andrew Peterson song inspired by The Yearling), we feasted our eyes on a brilliant Florida sunset.
After combining reading The Yearling and Lost in the Woods, with our visit to the zoo, we got to know Florida a little better. We felt closer to our roots and thankful for God’s glorious creation given for us to enjoy.
So, how about you? What books highlight the history of your state and what are some places you can visit to bring them to life for your children?