Spring is just around the corner here in Kentucky. After a brief respite from the cold, the past few days have been dreary, rainy, and frigid again. As we desperately yearn for the return of warmer and greener days, we have been enjoying reading about gardening together.
My husband and I are both new to gardening so we will be learning right alongside our daughter. Hopefully one of us has a green thumb, or at least not a completely brown one, and we are able to see the fruition of our hard work come to life in the way of edible fruits and vegetables.
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I luckily stumbled upon Sharon Lovejoy’s Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children, which details 12 fun and simple backyard gardening projects for kids, e.g. sunflower houses, a moon garden, a pizza patch, etc. It is such a lovely and inspirational book about gardening with children in mind. When we finally get the outdoor space we dream of having one day, I can see myself wanting to complete all the projects she details in her book.
We are currently enjoying these Montessori-friendly gardening books:
ONE // How Does My Garden Grow?: I don’t think you can ever go wrong with a Gerda Muller book. They are always enjoyable. In How Does My Garden Grow?, a little girl named Sophie learns gardens can be grown on the farm or in the city, making it a perfect introductory book to basic gardening techniques for all children.
TWO // Planting the Wild Garden: A wonderful picture book filled with soft, subtle pen-and-watercolor illustrations that are simply delightful. The focus here is on Mother Nature’s wild garden and how we all play a part in ensuring its growth. It’s a great choice for all ages: toddlers are sure to enjoy the beautifully detailed illustrations as well as the onomatopoeia interspersed throughout the text, while young gardeners will delight in learning about seed cycles and seed dispersal. Plus, there’s a wonderful list of additional reference materials located in the back of the book for anyone seeking more information about ornithology or botany.
THREE // Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt: This book details all the living things that work together to help maintain a healthy garden. If your little ones like dirt and bugs, I’m sure they will find this book fascinating. The illustrations are bold and colorful, and the text is incredibly informative.
FOUR // And Then It’s Spring: Featuring soft, muted, and simple earth-tone colors, author Julie Fogliano’s book is a charming story about patience and anticipation. Written with a simple rhyming text, a boy and his faithful companions – a dog, a bunny, and a turtle – plant a garden and then have to wait for it to emerge. There’s a lot of brown and then some more brown (a perfect addition to our bookshelves at the moment as it mirrors what we see outside) which is then followed by an explosion of green! My favorite line: “Please do not stomp here. There are seeds, and they are trying.”
FIVE // Jack’s Garden: A great addition to your toddler’s library as it will be a wonderful reference for years to come. Author and illustrator Henry Cole accurately details various gardening equipment, insects, seeds, clouds, leaves, plants, flowers, butterflies, birds, and eggs — all of which are clearly labeled and very realistic. My daughter loves to name all the things she knows; Ladybugs, butterflies and birds are atop the list of favorites for her at the moment. Jack’s Garden is also a wonderful book for vocabulary building and playing the “I Spy” game. Older preschoolers will be able to use the book as reference material for introductory nature studies. The author employs a cumulative writing style (definitely not my favorite — I abhor all those clauses), which can help children learn sequential order through repetition. While the story itself is mediocre, the outstanding illustrations more than make up for it.
SIX // The Curious Garden: We fell in love with this book last summer, and it will definitely be a mainstay on our shelves for many years to come. Whether you’re beginning a gardening unit, celebrating Earth Day, or simply interested in reading a great picture book with an inspiring message, you cannot go wrong with this book written by Peter Brown. The story follows a little boy named Liam who inspires others to make the world a prettier place – one garden at a time. The book creatively illustrates how small, intentional acts can have a long-lasting and far-reaching impact.
SEVEN // In the Garden: A great introductory board book to gardening for a young toddler. Simple, rhyming words with realistic, yet attractive illustrations demonstrate the seed cycle. My newly-turned-2-year-old daughter regularly selects this book to read while she’s eating her afternoon snack at her table.
EIGHT // The Carrot Seed: A classic board book for babies! This one has been one of my daughter’s favorites for nearly 2 years now. She loves to point out the mama, the dada, the seeds, the pail, the water and, eventually, the carrot. It’s a simple story of persistence and patience and, ultimately, trusting in your own beliefs — all wonderful traits to instill in a young child. You will definitely want to add this book to your child’s library.
NINE // If You Hold a Seed: This is a simple and sweet story featuring Elly MacKay’s beautiful artwork.
TEN // A Seed is Sleepy: A poetic and exquisitely detailed book filled with lots of fun facts about seeds. The illustrations are vibrant. Bonus: The poem is written in cursive, which makes it a nice addition to your Montessori library shelves when you begin introducing sandpaper letters and the moveable alphabet. Other related titles include A Butterfly is Patient, A Nest is Noisy, An Egg is Quiet, and A Rock is Lively – all of which would make wonderful additions to your science library at home.
ELEVEN // Planting a Rainbow: Bright and bold illustrations make this a perfect book for any toddler or preschooler who is demonstrating an interest in colors, rainbows, or flowers. Lois Ehlert presents some of the most common garden flowers, which makes this a perfect addition if you plan on starting your own “Rainbow Garden” at home.