Kick off your spring season with these ten picture books about gardening. Whether you’re an intentional and experienced gardener or a fling-it and wing-it surprise gardener (like me!), these ten books are sure to get little hands ready to grow food, flowers, or trees.
Since our girls were born we’ve made various gardening attempts with mixed results. In one house we tried blueberry bushes in containers. It was challenging to move the containers around for maxim sun and to ward off the lovely birds and squirrels that wanted a snack, but we got a decent yield.
One house that we lived in had stunning hydrangea bushes. We were even more stunned to find out the house had a septic tank instead of city services. The bushes were never the same after we got the tank fixed. Not sure I’d recommend that strategy.
We’ve tried sunflowers a couple times with decent results. In one spot they got just to the point of blooming and then deer came and snapped off all their heads in one night. I thought about screaming. In another spot, we sowed a couple different varieties and enjoyed the different rates of growth and sizes.
This year we’re doing a mix of container gardening, and we built a raised bed for vegetables. It’s almost time to start dropping in seeds and pulling up weeds!
I don’t know about you and where you are, but I am ready for spring. The best way to get started when it’s still too cold to do much outside is to read about gardening. Grab a snuggly blanket and hunker down for an afternoon of reading with these ten picture books about gardening!
Ten Picture Books About Gardening
We are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines
I enjoyed watching the Gaines on TV when they had their first round of success, and I love their work. I do, however, have a heightened skepticism when I see that someone with a high level of popularity outside of writing children’s books has decided to write one. Fortunately, as with everything the Gaines seem to do, the quality of this book is great.
Written from the perspective of her children, Gaines charts their gardening growth from an over-watered houseplant to a bountiful garden and all the mishaps in between. Woven throughout the narrative is a growth-mindset of learning from every failure. The fresh, authentic voice will draw readers in instantly (and you’ll learn a lot of child-friendly lessons about good gardening)!
Mortimer’s First Garden by Karma Wilson
If you’ve ever read Bear Snores On, then you’re familiar with the brilliant work author Karma Wilson. Mortimer’s First Garden is not at all like her Bear series in tone or style, but it is just as delightful.
Mortimer is a mouse, and he is skeptical that a whole sunflower can grow out of a tiny seed. He decides to plant one and find out. Mortimer is a bit impatient, but he waits nonetheless. His patience is rewarded and his genuine awe for the miraculous growing process is infectious. Plus, when one sunflower grows he then has more seeds than he can eat in a winter – so he can invite a friend and save some for planting next year.
Dandelions by Katrina McKelvey
What kid doesn’t love dandelions? But also: do you know an adult who would rather not have the weeds in their space? This is a fun imaginative look at where dandelion seeds go when you puff them into the wind (it’s so easy to understand why these delight children).
But I was laughing all the way through because I was imagining my husband cringing at the excited narrative about dandelion seeds spreading everywhere in yards all over the neighborhood.
It’s a sweet story and gives voice to a child’s open wonder at such a versatile plant. Just be warned that it won’t be suitable for every adult (wink, wink).
The Mangrove Tree by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore
A non-fiction story about a man who introduced a tree that changed a community. In Eritrea, Dr. Gordon Sato recognized an opportunity for changing the dynamics of a local ecosystem. The villagers and Dr. Sato plant the uniquely adapted mangrove trees, nurture their growth, and transform their community. Told in poetry and prose with vivid illustrations, this book is a tribute to problem-solving, hard work, and the importance of plants in our lives.
Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa
by Jeannette Winter
This non-fiction book also takes place in Africa. Author Jeannette Winter introduces readers to Wangari Maathai of Kenya. Wangari becomes concerned about the dwindling trees of her beloved home and starts small to rectify the situation. Starting with nine seedlings, her vision grows along with the trees. In 2004, she was recognized for her work with the Nobel Peace Prize. An amazing woman with a large vision and equally huge passion.
Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming
Bless him, Mr. McGreely has wanted to plant a garden for years. When he finally gets up the nerve, he is unprepared for the relentless cunning of the neighborhood rabbits who eat his produce each night. With increasing levels of hysterical responses, Mr. McGreely finally succeeds! Sort of.
Tops & Bottoms by Janet Stevens
This is probably one of my favorite stories that we discovered on our homeschool reading journey through a whole bunch of folktales. It’s the story of a lazy bear and a clever rabbit trying to feed his family. The rabbit cons the bear into letting the rabbit family plant in his garden plot. In exchange the bear gets to pick “tops or bottoms” for what he keeps and the rabbit will keep what is left. Then, of course, the rabbit makes shrewd selections for the crops he plants and lazy bear ends up with nothing while rabbit takes the haul. Children and adults will laugh each time the rabbit pulls his trick.
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
Miss Rumphius, Alice, made a promise to make the world a more beautiful place. She has dreams and ideas of what she wants to do, but it is not until she begins scattering lupine seeds wherever she goes that her legacy takes hold. Known as the Lupine Lady, Alice plants these beautiful flowers along the Maine coast and fulfills her promise to make the world beautiful. Lovely drawings and a sweet story.
The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
During the Depression, Lydia is sent to the city to live with her grumpy Uncle Jim. She packs her bags with seeds and eventually finds the perfect spot to begin a secret, cheery space. As her seeds grow so does her kind influence on the bakery and their customers. But can she win over Uncle Jim? Will her secret rooftop garden make him smile?
Miss Lady Bird’s Wildflowers by Kathi Appelt
Before she was the First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson found solace in flowers. In the White House she noticed an appalling lack of beauty and pride in the places around the capitol. Throughout her life she was a champion of planting flowers wherever it was possible. If you notice a clump of wildflowers in the middle of a highway on your next road trip, it was made possible by the vision of this woman. Her feisty determination to nurture flowers wherever her life took her left a beautiful mark on her country.
(You can find more biographies of amazing women such as Wangari Maathai and Lady Bird Johnson on this post of 75 Picture Book Biographies of Amazing Women.)
Hopefully these picture books about gardening will inspire your gardening efforts this year, encourage you to appreciate the trees and flowers you see, and cause you to think about what you can do to contribute to the natural world around you.
Happy gardening! Happy reading!
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