Daylight savings time makes me grumble at having to get up earlier. But, it also means that spring is coming. I start thinking about what seeds I will plant for my garden, and which books I will read to my students, to give them hope when they still see snow on the ground.
To encourage planting seeds to save the environment, to brighten spirits, and to instill a sense of connection and possibility, I like to read the following books that focus on gardening and community. Read and Grow!
written by Phyllis Root
illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Candlewick Press, 2017
Jaunty, rhyming text and understated yet joyful illustrations showcase a wide range of children and neighbors building a community garden. A very appealing read-aloud to introduce the idea of growing where you can.
Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table
written by Jacqueling Briggs Martin
illustrated by Eric-Shabazz Larkin
Readers to Eaters, 2013
This lively picture book biography introduces young readers to Milwaukee’s famous urban farmer, Will Allen. A former professional basketball player, his work is highlighted in this colorful book, inspiring young readers to think about where their food comes from.
Harlem Grown: How One Big Idea
Transformed a Neighborhood
written by Tony Hillery
illustrated by Jessie Hartland
Simon & Schuster, 2020
Nevaeh and her friends help Mr. Tony transform a ‘haunted’ garden into a thriving urban farm in this whimsically-illustrated celebration of growing.
Jayden’s Impossible Garden
written by Mélina Mangal
illustrated by Ken Daley
Strive/Free Spirit, 2021
Jayden wants his mother to see the beauty of nature in the city. When he joins forces with an elderly neighbor, who knows what will happen? With vibrant illustrations by illustrator Ken Daly, Jayden’s Impossible Garden highlights how imagination can connect neighbors in new ways.
Thank You, Garden
written by Liz Garton Scanlon
illustrated by Simone Shin
Beach Lane Books, 2020
With vintage-like illustrations by Caldecott-Honor Award illustrator Simone Shin, this picture book celebrates the growth of flowers, vegetables, and friendships between community members in this city garden.
There Grows the Neighborhood:
Agriculture in the City
written Mike Carriere
illustrated by Paul Kjelland
SHARP Literacy Inc., 2014
This large format book follows several students in the future as they recount how their neighborhoods were transformed by Farmer Will Allen’s urban gardening movement. Full of facts, photos, and student art about urban farming, this book will inspire children to get out and grow.
The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden
written by Karina Yan Glaser
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2018
In this heartwarming second book featuring the Vanderbeekers, the siblings plan a garden unlike any other: a magical healing garden. Though they hope it will be the best in Harlem, how will they contend with locked gates, a developer with sights on the land, and other obstacles?
What a great crop of books!