Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Community Garden Booklist

Our school has started a community garden and everyone is excited about it. Our third grade classes worked all year to get the garden designed and created it in the spring. This coming year, it will be up and running and most of the school will be involved in some way.

Knowing that the whole school will be busy working on and thinking about the garden and that the kids will be extra excited this fall, I have been keeping my eyes open for books that might connect in some ways to the garden.  I am envisioning an area of the library dedicated to gardens, etc. similar to the inquiry displays set up at THE ALLEN CENTRE.  I have learned so much about what is possible in an elementary library from visiting their site. If you have not had a chance to look at the site and the invitations they create for kids, they are amazing. Connecting that thinking to the thinking I get from Georgia Heard and her book A PLACE FOR WONDER,  I am hoping to create a space for exploring ideas connected to gardening while also including a variety of books that invite children to think in different directions.  You never know what the work in the garden might spark in terms of an interest for a child so I am trying to be broad in my connections at this point. These are the books on my list so far:

GREGOR MENDEL: THE FRIAR WHO GREW PEAS by Cheryl Bardoe is a great picture book biography that fascinates me. This is a great introduction to genetics and the man behind the thinking about heredity in plants.  This is a longer picture book and one that might be interesting to older students. It is also a great story about someone who did what they loved and made a difference in the world.

FIRST GARDEN: THE WHITE HOUSE GARDEN AND HOW IT GREW by Robbin Gourley is a new book that focuses on Michelle Obama's garden and the purpose behind it.  It tells about Michelle Obama's goals for the garden, how it came to be and the history of gardens at the White House.  I think this is a timely one to include this year. Kids will like the story about something that happened so recently.

RAH, RAH, RADISHES!:  A VEGETABLE CHANT by April Pulley Sayre is one that Mary Lee reviewed here a few weeks ago. After the review, I had to buy it. This is a perfect one for shared reading and the photographs are gorgeous!

HOW DID THAT GET IN MY LUNCHBOX by Chris Butterworth is a great book about how the foods we eat came to be in our lunchboxes. Starting at the beginning, each food is examined so children understand where food comes from.  The art adds a great deal to the information.

SEED, SOIL, SUN by Cris Peterson is one of my favorite nonfiction picture books this year.  It has amazing photographs and is written with language that is amazing and surprising at the same time.

by George Shannon is a poetry book that I'll include. This one is great for all ages, but especially fun for young children and for shared reading. (April's blog review is here.)

 by Susan Shea doesn't connect exactly to the garden but focuses on the difference between living and nonliving things. It was a favorite read aloud with young children this spring so I think they'll love revisiting it this fall.

by Kevin Henkes How can I not include this wonderful book?  This one is ALWAYS checked out from our library!  (A book on my list of BOOKS I COULD READ A MILLION TIMES)


  1. This is great! The school my boys are transferring to this year has a community garden and I can't wait to get involved as a parent. I hope I can find a LMS job in a school that has a garden too! I am going to keep this blog post in mind. Thanks for the links!

  2. Thanks for this collection, our school just got a grant for a greenhouse and maybe this will evolve from it.

  3. Anonymous11:16 AM

    Love the Mendel pick - that book is awesome. xoxo michele

  4. Those are cool books. It might also be fun to have a list of books in the library that take place in gardens...like THE RATS OF NIMH.

  5. Thanks for the great post about gardens. As interest grows for such school and community projects, it's important for our kids to have access to such texts. Imagine the writing that will come from being part of such a project. These books can be mentor texts for children and teachers as they explore sustainable development in their own backyard.

  6. Just got to your website from Choice Literacy. Thank you. I was wondering if you'd heard of a 1997 book entitled SeedFolks. I love it! Here's a description from Wikipedia: Seedfolks (1997) is a short children's novel written by Paul Fleischman, with illustrations by Judy Pedersen.[1] The story is told by a diverse cast of characters living on (or near) Gibb Street in Cleveland, Ohio, each from a different ethnic group. Chapter by chapter, each character describes the transformation of an empty lot into a vibrant community garden, and in doing so, they each experience their own transformations.


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