"I want to help!"
I was separating grape tomato plants, preparing them for planting, and Bob the Builder (5) and Top Gun (3) were reaching for plants as I worked. Our family plants an outdoor herb and vegetable garden every spring and we keep an indoor herb garden year-round. When I'm planting seeds I let the boys get right in and help, but I had visions of battered plants and decided this was one of those times they needed to watch a little before trying on their own. I demonstrated how to pull gently to separate the tangled mass of roots and pour dirt around the plants in the cups. After watching them nearly squeeze a couple plants to death, I decided pouring the dirt would be a better job for my boys! They get very excited, but tend to have a bull-in-china-shop approach.
They have some favorite books with gardening themes, each of which I see constantly laying around or handed to me for story time. I enjoy the stories as much as the boys, especially when they pull up next to me and ask to help plant the seeds or flowers or vegetables and talk about things that we've read. They like playing in the dirt as much as I do, and we want to continue encouraging that.
Planting a Rainbow, by Lois Ehlert
"Every year Mom and I plant a rainbow."
The story starts in the fall with planting different kinds of bulbs and goes throughout the year of planning and planting a garden. Our boys enjoy identifying the colors and different types of flowers, as well as seeing the stages of growth. Abstract illustrations.
Read aloud: 0 to 4
Growing Vegetable Soup, by Lois Ehlert
"Dad says we are going to grow vegetable soup."
The story takes children through the process of planting seeds, watering and caring for a garden, then harvesting vegetables and making soup. Abstract illustrations.
Read aloud: 1 to 5
One Bean, by Anne Rockwell
"I had one bean. It was dry and smooth and hard."
Children learn how to grow a bean plant. Simple, clear illustrations with more activities page and more about beans at the end.
Read aloud: 2 to 6
Jack's Garden, by Henry Cole
"This is the garden that Jack planted."
Remember the Mother Goose story "The House that Jack Built?" Cole puts a new twist on the rhythmic, repetitive tale.
Read aloud: 2 to 6
The Tiny Seed, by Eric Carle
"It is Autumn. A strong wind is blowing. It blows flower seeds high in the air and carries them far across the land."
More classic illustrations and writing from popular author Eric Carle.
Read aloud: 3 to 8
Roots Shoots Buckets & Boots, by Sharon Lovejoy
Contains 12 easy-to-make garden projects that children and adults can make together, such as a pizza patch or container gardens. Watercolor illustrations.
Read aloud: 4 to 8
Activities: 4 to 10
Wonderful books on growing things. My boys always loved planting and always wanted to help. Sometimes it's hard to let them 'help' when 'help' makes for more work for mom ;)) but it's better in the long run that they keep that desire to help.
What a great selection of books. So important to keep the young ones interested in gardening!
Janet Stevens Tops& Bottoms is also good. Not totally correct with the growing seasons but beautiful and a fun read. My 2.5 year old grandson loves it.