Children’s gardening books elegantly teach, entertain and inspire. I have learned more from the books below than from some of the lengthiest garden tomes. All of the children’s books listed here teach about gardening. But, they also teach about acceptance, social activism, persistence, urban renewal, family and pride.
1. The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson
The classic simple story of persistence, optimism and carrots. Our protagonist is a young boy whose family has a bizarrely low amount of faith in him. This story is about growing a carrot but more than that it is about giving the finger to those who doubt you.
2. The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin
A little girl grows Chinese vegetables with her mom in a suburban neighborhood where her neighbor’s gardens don’t extend beyond peonies and poppies. This book highlights unique Chinese vegetables as well as offers a recipe for Ugly Vegetable Soup.
3. Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
The beloved Lois Ehlert (Growing Vegetable Soup is another great children’s gardening book), teaches young readers the Alphabet as well introduces a myriad of fruits and vegetables. I know you’re dying to know what she does for “X.” You’ll have to read it to find out.
4. How Groundhog’s Garden Grew by Lynne Cherry
This book teaches seed saving, composting, perennials, thinning, transplanting, organic gardening and pollination all in a way that is accessible to kids. My favorite part of the story though is the illustrations of a garden from a squirrel’s and groundhog’s perspective. If only all squirrels grew their own gardens instead of eating mine.
5. Two Old Potatoes and Me by John Coy and Carolyn Fisher
A story about growing something new from something old with a mashed potato recipe thrown in.
6. The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
Inspired by Manhattan’s High Line, this peaceful story illustrates the power of one young person to battle urban blight and green his city.
7. Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal
The poetic language and beautifully rustic illustrations bring the garden in this story to life. This is a great book to teach the connection between the life in and the life above the soil.
8. City Green by DyAnne DiSalve-Ryan
A story about the power of a community garden to combat urban blight and bring people together. The story offers a realistic portrayal of starting a community garden in the inner city; permitting, coordinating with the local government and physical labor are all portrayed. Our protagonist, Marcy, is a young girl who does not fully understand the civic process happening around her but fully appreciates its impact.
9. Weslandia by Paul Fleischman and Kevin Hawkes
The gardening information in this book is not the best (a field is planted by wind alone, a monocrop is grown). However, this book shines as a story of self-sufficiency, the multiple uses of plants, returning to an earth-based pagan civilization and of doing your own funky thing in cookie-cutter suburbia.
10. Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens
Hare, having lost all his money in a risky bet, devises a way to trick bear and earn some money in the process. A fun story in the American folklore tradition that also introduces root and leaf vegetables.
Other Children’s Gardening Books
Do you have some favorite children’s gardening books not on the list? Share them in the comments below.