The best children’s books about gardening

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

The Books I Picked & Why

The Curious Garden

By Peter Brown

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.


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Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

By Kate Messner, Christopher Silas Neal

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.


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Lola Plants a Garden

By Anna McQuinn, Rosalind Beardshaw

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. 


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From Seed to Plant

By Gail Gibbons

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.


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In the Garden

By Emma Giuliani

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.


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