Using Books to Teach Children How to Garden

Gardening and Reading

As a former reading specialist turned homeschooling parent, I quickly discovered the incredible value of books in the learning process. My passion for reading grew as I found research highlighting books‘ crucial role in education. This realization led me and my children on many adventures to used bookstores, where we could buy several books for just fifty cents each. Despite our tight budget, these trips provided us with quality time together and an ever-growing library.

Before long, our collection of children's books overflowed from our home into the garage, amassing over 2,000 titles. While this might have seemed excessive, my desire to share the joy of reading led me to donate many of these books to others in the homeschool community. Watching my children, and eventually others, delight in new stories and learn through reading became a cherished experience.

Teach Gardening with Books

During those early homeschooling years, my oldest son wanted to start a garden in our tiny backyard in Los Angeles. Given my history of killing anything green, I was apprehensive but determined to give him a garden to learn and grow in. Our first attempt at a vegetable bed ended in disaster, as I managed to kill everything. Undeterred, I turned to books for guidance on gardening, using them to gain knowledge and confidence.

In addition to reading, we began visiting local nurseries that offered gardening classes, bringing my kids along to learn with me. With these combined efforts, our next gardening attempt was a success. Our garden produced food, and so did our excitement to grow more food.

Gardening Benefits for Children

Gardening is a wonderful activity to share with kids, offering much more than just beautiful plants and tasty veggies. 

Here are some fantastic benefits:

Responsibility and Patience: Watching kids learn to care for their plants teaches them responsibility and patience. They get to see firsthand that good things take time.

Hands-On Learning: Gardening is like a mini science lab in your backyard. Kids can learn about nature, biology, and even weather patterns while having fun.

Physical Activity: Digging, planting, and weeding are great ways for kids to get moving. It's a natural way to sneak in some exercise.

Healthy Eating Habits: There's something magical about eating veggies you've grown yourself. It encourages kids to try new foods and understand where their food comes from.

Mental Well-Being: Spending time outdoors and caring for plants can be incredibly soothing. It’s a great way to help kids relax and enjoy some quiet time.

Books: A Wonderful Starting Point

When it comes to introducing kids to gardening, books can be your best friend. They offer engaging and accessible information, breaking down complex gardening concepts into easy-to-understand stories and illustrations. This approachable format helps demystify gardening for children, turning what might seem like an overwhelming task into something fun and manageable.

Reading about different plants, insects, and garden adventures can really spark a child's curiosity. As they learn about the fascinating world of gardening, their imagination will ignite, and they'll be eager to try new things and explore. This newfound interest can lead to a deeper appreciation for nature and a willingness to get hands-on with their garden projects.

Books also inspire creativity by providing a plethora of fun ideas for garden projects. Whether it's planting a rainbow garden or creating a whimsical fairy garden, the possibilities are endless. These creative projects not only make gardening more exciting for kids but also allow them to express themselves in unique ways.

Finally, books help build confidence. Knowledge is power, and as children absorb the information from their reading, they will feel more confident stepping into the garden and trying their hand at growing something. This confidence can lead to a more enjoyable and successful gardening experience, fostering a lifelong love for this rewarding hobby.

Incorporating books into your gardening journey can make the whole experience richer and more enjoyable for the entire family. So, let’s dive into some fantastic reads and cultivate a love for gardening together!

Essential Gardening Skills Taught Through Books

Here are some essential and useful things that you can focus on while learning to garden using books

Understanding Plant Life Cycles: Books offer a comprehensive look at the journey of a plant, from seed to sprout to mature plant. This knowledge helps readers grasp the stages of growth and the time and care needed for each phase.

Identifying Different Plants and Flowers: Learning to identify various plants and flowers is another key skill taught through books. Readers can discover the names, characteristics, and needs of common garden plants.

Basic Gardening Techniques: Books often include step-by-step guides on fundamental gardening techniques. Topics such as how to plant seeds, water plants, and provide ongoing care are covered in detail.

Environmental Awareness: Gardening books emphasize the importance of environmental factors like soil quality, sunlight, water, and pollinators. Understanding how these elements interact and contribute to a healthy garden develops a deeper appreciation for nature and encourages sustainable gardening practices.

Incorporating these essential skills into your gardening routine can lead to a more fruitful and enjoyable experience. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned gardener, there’s always something new to learn from the wealth of knowledge found in gardening books.

Key Topics to Focus On When Gardening with Kids

To make the experience even more enriching, consider focusing on a few key topics and picking out books that can guide you both through the learning process.

Types of Gardens: Start by exploring the different types of gardens with your kids. Whether it’s a vegetable garden, flower garden, or herb garden, there are plenty of books that can spark their interest. One great recommendation is Every Little Seed by Cynthia Schumerth. This book encourages kids to explore gardening through engaging illustrations and simple text. 

Soil and Composting: Teaching kids about soil health and composting can be both educational and fun. Look for books like “Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth” by Mary McKenna Siddals. This delightful book explains composting in a kid-friendly way, helping them understand how kitchen scraps and garden waste can transform into rich, fertile soil.

Weather and Seasons: Understanding how different plants thrive in various weather conditions and seasons is essential. “The Curious Garden” by Peter Brown is a fantastic choice for children, as it tells the story of a boy who turns a dreary city into a lush garden.

Seed Starting: Starting plants from seeds is a magical experience for kids. Books like “From Seed to Plant” by Gail Gibbons provide clear and colorful explanations of the seed-growing process.

JOIN Create My Garden's 5 Day Reading Challenge

Gardening Reading Challenge

Activities to Activate the Learning Process of Gardening

Reading Together: Start by selecting engaging children's gardening books and reading them together. Books like “The Tiny Seed” by Eric Carle or “Planting a Rainbow” by Lois Ehlert make for wonderful reads that are both educational and entertaining.

Seed Sorting and Classification: Turn learning into a game by using pictures and descriptions from your gardening books to sort different seeds. Lay out various seeds on a table and have the kids match them to the pictures in the book.

Creating a Mini Indoor Garden: Start small with indoor pots or window boxes. Choose easy-to-grow plants like herbs or flowers, and let them take charge of planting and watering. Books like “Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots” by Sharon Lovejoy offer kid-friendly projects that are perfect for indoor gardening.

Drawing and Labeling: Encourage creativity by having children draw plants and label their parts based on what they've learned. This activity reinforces their understanding of plant anatomy while allowing them to express their artistic side.

Tips for Parents: Steps for Success

Gardening can seem daunting if you’re new to it or if you’ve had a few unsuccessful attempts. But don’t worry! With a positive attitude and a willingness to learn, you and your kids can turn gardening into a fun and rewarding experience. Here are some friendly tips to help you get started:

ONE- Start Small: Begin with easy-to-grow plants and simple projects. There's no need to dive into a large-scale garden right away. Start with something manageable like growing herbs in a pot, planting a few flowers in a window box, or even trying out a small vegetable garden.

TWO- Learn Alongside Your Child: Make it a joint adventure in learning and discovery. Embrace the fact that you and your child are both new to this journey. Look at it as an opportunity to bond and explore together.

THREE- Use Resources: Rely on books and reliable sources like Create My Garden to help you in reaching your garden learning goals. There’s a wealth of information available to help you succeed. 

FOUR- Celebrate Small Wins: Acknowledge and celebrate every little success. Whether it’s the first sprout peeking out of the soil, a fully bloomed flower, or a handful of fresh herbs ready to be used in the kitchen, take time to celebrate these victories.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating a thriving garden and a lifetime of cherished memories with your kids. Remember, the goal is to have fun and learn together. So grab your gardening gloves, gather your family, and enjoy the wonderful journey of growing something beautiful.

For more Gardening with Kids connect with Alicia:

Lisa Nehring
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