The best children’s books about gardening

Kate Coombs Author Of Little Naturalists: The Adventures of John Muir
By Kate Coombs

Who am I?

I love nature and feature it in many of my books, including a poetry collection about the ocean and a board book series about famous naturalists. As a gardener, I have trouble with outside plants thanks to the deer that live in the canyon out back. However, I have 50 houseplants and an herb garden in pots on the balcony. Our house is surrounded by trees, and one of my favorite places in the world is Sequoia National Park, with its green meadows and giant sequoia trees. We spent several summers there when I was a child.


I wrote...

Little Naturalists: The Adventures of John Muir

By Kate Coombs, Seth Lucas (illustrator),

Book cover of Little Naturalists: The Adventures of John Muir

What is my book about?

Even toddlers can learn about great naturalists like John Muir! The first of some dozen books in the BabyLit series about naturalists, this board book celebrates the life and contributions of the Father of the National Parks. In spare lines of rhymed poetry, we follow John Muir as he explores the mountains and forests that will become Yosemite National Park and other natural treasures.

The books I picked & why

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The Curious Garden

By Peter Brown,

Book cover of The Curious Garden

Why this book?

A boy in a dreary city discovers a few plants on a rooftop and begins to care for them. His garden grows, and in time his efforts lead to the transformation of his gray city to a garden city. This book looks at the possibilities for creating green spaces in drab urban landscapes. Although the other books I’m recommending are nonfiction, The Curious Garden paints a magical picture of how plants can transform our lives and communities. The book can be a call to action for children to plant their own gardens, particularly if they live in cities.

The Curious Garden

By Peter Brown,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Curious Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This gorgeously illustrated picture book opens to a detailed spread of a gray city. If you look closely, you can spot the tiny figure of a red-headed boy, Liam, walking down the street. THE CURIOUS GARDEN tells the story of how this young boy discovers a door that leads up to abandoned railroad tracks where he finds a forgotten garden. He cares for the plants and helps them flourish, and they gradually spread throughout the city, transforming it, bit by bit, into a lush, green world.

With spare text and breathtaking illustrations, and a classic feel reminiscent of THE LITTLE…


Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

By Kate Messner, Christopher Silas Neal (illustrator),

Book cover of Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

Why this book?

We tend to focus on what we can see aboveground as we plant and cultivate gardens, but there’s a lot going on out of sight down in the dirt. What would a plant be without roots and worms? The words of this book are poetic; for example, as winter ends: “Spring sun shines down to melt the sleepy snow. Wind whistles through last year’s plants, and mud sucks at my rain boots.” We watch a girl and her Nana care for their garden throughout the year. At the end of the book, the author provides an annotated list of creatures that live in the garden (both above and below), from pill bugs to garter snakes.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

By Kate Messner, Christopher Silas Neal (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A companion to the new Over and Under the Pond and Over and Under the Snow, this sweet book explores the hidden world and many lives of a garden through the course of a year.

Up in the garden, the world is full of green-leaves and sprouts, growing vegetables, ripening fruit. But down in the dirt there is a busy world of earthworms digging, snakes hunting, skunks burrowing and all the other animals that make a garden their home. In this exuberant and lyrical book, discover the wonders that lie hidden between stalks, under the shade of leaves... and down…


Lola Plants a Garden

By Anna McQuinn, Rosalind Beardshaw (illustrator),

Book cover of Lola Plants a Garden

Why this book?

This is the third book about Lola, who loves to read. When her mother reads her a book of gardening poems, Lola decides to plant a garden. Note that Lola is quite young, and this book is for 2- to 5-year-olds. Lola begins her project by getting books at the library and deciding which flowers to plant. Then her mother helps her buy seeds and plant them. Lola makes a flower book while she’s waiting for the seeds to grow. When they do, she has a party to share her sunflowers and a story with friends. A sweet book that celebrates both reading and gardening. 

Lola Plants a Garden

By Anna McQuinn, Rosalind Beardshaw (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lola Plants a Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How does your garden grow? Book-loving Lola is inspired by a collection of garden poems that she reads with her mommy. She wants to plant her own garden of beautiful flowers, so she and Mommy go to the library to check out books about gardening. They choose their flowers and buy their seeds. They dig and plant. And then they wait. Lola finds it hard to wait for her flowers to grow, but she spends the time creating her own flower book. Soon she has a garden full of sunflowers and invites all of her friends for cakes and punch…


From Seed to Plant

By Gail Gibbons,

Book cover of From Seed to Plant

Why this book?

This author is well known for her nonfiction picture books that clearly explain science topics, in this case, the growth of plants. Step by step, Gibbons walks young readers through pollination, the growth of seeds, and how seeds are distributed, such as by squirrels and birds. Then she goes on to talk about how plants grow. The whole process is reader-friendly, and the illustrations are clean and attractive. A great introduction for kindergarten through third graders.

From Seed to Plant

By Gail Gibbons,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From Seed to Plant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Flowers, trees, fruits—plants are all around us, but where do they come from?
 
With simple language and bright illustrations, non-fiction master Gail Gibbons introduces young readers to the processes of pollination, seed formation, and germination.  Important vocabulary is reinforced with accessible explanation and colorful, clear diagrams showing the parts of plants, the wide variety of seeds, and how they grow. 
 
The book includes instructions for a seed-growing project, and a page of interesting facts about plants, seeds, and flowers.   A nonfiction classic, and a perfect companion for early science lessons and curious young gardeners.
 
According to The Washington Post, Gail…


In the Garden

By Emma Giuliani,

Book cover of In the Garden

Why this book?

The lift-the-flap format is often aimed at the board book crowd, but not in this beautiful book. Information under its flaps acts more like visual sidebars, uncovering secrets such as what’s inside a garden shed or what the inside of an onion looks like. The book shows us the passage of seasons and the activities of a gardening sister and her little brother at different times of the year, such as planting, composting, and raking. Children and adults will both like this one.

In the Garden

By Emma Giuliani,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Marvelous wonders await in this extraordinary garden book. From season to season, children follow the life of a garden as each page reveals new treasures hiding under lift-up flaps. Peek inside the curious tulip bulb and discover the peas inside a peapod. Watch a ladybug help with pesky aphids and search for ripe strawberries under the leaves. Rich in detail, Emma Giuliani's bright, immersive illustrations and flaps in fantastic shapes, sizes, and colors carry the reader into the enchanted world of gardening. Discovering different facets of the garden-fauna, flora, and the work necessary to help it grow and thrive-will delight…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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