Gardening Books for Kids

Gardening Books for Kids

Part of Ep. 303 Kids and Gardening

Share your love of gardening with your children.  Jim Bennett, Master Gardener, book reviewer and parent, presents his favorite gardening books for kids.

Premiere date: Jul 31, 1995

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Girl:

Make a scarecrow for your garden. First make a cross out of wood. Hang some old clothing on it and stuff it with straw. You can make the head out of an old pillowcase. Then draw some eyes and a mouth on it. When you're don, stand the scarecrow up and pound it into the ground. Your scarecrow will stand guard over your garden all summer long.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Gardening with kids can be a lot of fun. But where do you go when you're fresh out of ideas? Obviously, books are a wonderful resource. I'm with Jim Bennett. He's a parent, a master gardener, and he writes book reviews for several national gardening magazines. Jim, tell me about the collection we're looking at here.

 

Jim Bennett:

Shelley, these are some of my favorite books that I've read to my children when they were little, to get them interested in gardening. I've got picture books here for very little kids, story books for older children who are reading, activity books for actually doing your own gardening projects, and finally some books on botany and conservation.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Let's look at books for the beginning gardener.

 

Jim Bennett:

One of my favorites is Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert. It's very good for color and illustration. Little children really like a lot of color. This shows lots of plants that grow in a garden.

 

Shelley Ryan:

It's a picture book, but it still has plant names in it.

 

Jim Bennett:

Right. All parents love to read alphabet books to their children. This is The Accidental Zucchini. It goes through the alphabet.

 

Shelley Ryan:

With gardening related images, like the fork fence here.

 

Jim Bennett:

Right.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Okay.

 

Jim Bennett:

When they get older, they can start reading The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

 

Shelley Ryan:

A classic for kids.

 

Jim Bennett:

Babar In His Garden.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Which I remember as a kid.

 

Jim Bennett:

One of my favorites is Pumpkin Light by David Ray. This book has great illustrations, but also a good plot. It's very good on suspense and mystery. Kids really love that. This is about pumpkins in the fall.

 

Shelley Ryan:

The one underneath that is another classic.

 

Jim Bennett:

The Secret Garden by Francis Burnett is probably the most classic gardening book about a young girl who gets interested in gardening.

 

Shelley Ryan:

That's for a little older reader, right?

 

Jim Bennett:

Right.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Okay, what about when I actually get out in the backyard and I'm actually looking for projects, how-tos, step-by-step instructions?

 

Jim Bennett:

I think one of the first ones that caught my eye was Marc Brown's Your First Garden Book, because Marc Brown has written a lot of books about a little boy named Arthur. And all parents read these Arthur books. They're hard to avoid, anyway. So, this is Your First Garden Book. The kids really like this a lot. Then I look for books that have a lot of good illustrations also, about how to actually do it. This is one of the big picture books, My First Garden book.

Shelley Ryan:

It actually gives the step-by-step through some projects.

 

Jim Bennett:

Right, it actually shows how to do it.

 

Shelley Ryan:

You said that conservation or rain forest was also popular. This one is about the rain forest?

 

Jim Bennett:

Yeah, they get a lot on the rain forest in school these days, and conservation, and biodiversity. So the tie-in between gardening and the rain forest is obviously the plants.

 

Shelley Ryan:

You said this one was one of your favorites.

 

Jim Bennett:

That's a great story book about saving the rain forest. It's about why not to cut down the great kapok tree.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Wonderful.

 

Jim Bennett:

Kids really love it.

 

Shelley Ryan:

It's a good story, too, then. Okay, then what about these here? This one looks more like a dictionary almost, an encyclopedia.

 

Jim Bennett:

When you're gardening, you're obviously gardening with lots of different kinds of plants, bulbs, flowers, vegetables, trees, shrubs. The children need to know something about what the different kinds of plants are. A little bit of botany tie-in is good, too.

 

Shelley Ryan:

This one caught my eye. What is this about?

 

Jim Bennett:

My daughter got interested in that, because her allergies are acting up. Plants That Make You Sniffle and Sneeze. She's learning a lot about why she's getting her allergies now. She's also learning about weeds.

 

Shelley Ryan:

You can't avoid those if you're going to be a gardener.

Jim Bennett:

Nope.

 

Shelley Ryan:

So, when we're looking for books, we look for color. We look for good stories. We look for projects that are simple to understand, and then just books that we enjoy reading.

 

Jim Bennett:

Right.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Okay, great. Thanks, Jim. You can get more information on children's gardening books from public gardens and from your local public library.

 

Girl:

There are lots of things to play with in the garden. Leaves become hats, and flowers become necklaces. Ornamental onions can be microphones or magic wands.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Well, I hope we've given you some idea on how to garden with children. Remember though, gardening isn't just for kids. Or maybe it's for kids of all ages. I remember the sense of wonder I felt the first time my father made me a hollyhock doll when I was a little girl. I still feel that sense of wonder when I watch a tiny seed grow into an enormous flower. I guess we all garden for the same reasons, no matter what our age. It's fun, it's rewarding and it's still magical. Thanks for joining me for this special edition of the Wisconsin Gardener.  

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Funding for The Wisconsin Gardener is provided, in part, by The Wisconsin Master Gardener Association.