Kids, dirt, butterflies and flowers seem--at least for a while--to go hand in hand. So whether it's a bedtime story or a list of how-to's, a good book can help get the gardening juices flowing--even on rainy days. Here are a list of classics that have probably inspired many a young gardener.
Non-fiction Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots by Sharon Lovejoy (Workman, 1999). For children who love to dig in the dirt (and who doesn't?), this book offers plenty of inspiration and inexpensive projects. Digging the soil with a spoon, creating a sunflower house with a morning-glory roof, fashioning containers out of found objects--some of the projects require the assistance of an adult, others don't. The projects aren't necessarily innovative, but the book does a great job of fostering young gardeners' creativity. Plenty of science presented in a fun way helps teach the basics of gardening. Reading level: ages 9-12.
New Junior Garden Book by Felder Rushing (Better Homes & Gardens, 1999). The well-known horticulturist and author lends his sense of humor to devising fun projects for kids in the garden. From gardening in a recycled soda bottle to making your own jungle, these 38 "kid-tested and kid-approved projects" are bound to please. Reading level: ages 9-12.
Fiction Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney (Puffin, 1985). The meaning of life, Alice learns from her grandfather, is to make the world more beautiful. And so that lesson becomes central to her much later in life when she, an old librarian, begins sowing lupine seeds wherever she goes. An endearing tale, beautifully illustrated, for toddlers and preschoolers, and remembered fondly by many adults.
The Gardener by Sarah Stewart (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997). The year is 1935 and little Lydia Grace Finch is sent to live with her uncle in the city--a fairly grim, gray place in the years of the Depression. Her goal is to bring a smile to her uncle's face, and her method turns out to be fashioning a magical garden on the roof. Illustrated by David Small, Stewart's husband, this book won the Caldecott Honor award. Reading level: 4 to 8 years old.