Garden and Food books for kids

Note: The descriptions and grade level suggestions are my own.  My favourite ones are starred.

Storybooks (and some factual books for kids)

A Child’s Garden: a story of hope by Michael Foreman  1-4 –  Conflict resolution through gardening/planting

A Fruit is a Suitcase for Seeds by Jean Richards2-4 – Seed dispersal and the purpose of fruits in the plant life cycle.

A Home for Pearl Squirrel by Amy Crane Johnson 1-4 Animal habitats and seasons.

And the Good Brown Earth by Kathy Henderson – K-3 – A good poetic story about a garden through all four seasons.

Animals in Winter by Henrietta Bancroft – K-4 – Seasonal changes and animal adaptations, migration, and hibernation.

Bob and Otto by Robert O. Bruel – K-1 – Comparing worms and caterpillars in a fun story; friendship.

Call Me Gorgeous by Giles and Alexandra Milton – K-1 – A fun silly story, which can be fun for drama activities.

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss – K-2  –  Patience needed for plants to grow.  Good to combine with seed planting activities.  Short book.

Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals – K-2 – A rhyming book about composting and compost ingredients.

Crickwing by Janell Cannon – 2-6 – A fun story with lots of word-play to start discussions about inclusiveness and bullying.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown – 1-4 – A boy starts taking care of plants in an abandoned railway, and transforms a city and a community through gardening. Seasons in the garden.

Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin – K-3  –  Fun book – kids love it; learn some facts about worms; good discussion starter. Combine with composting activities.

Dirt by Steve Tomecek – 2-4 – A detailed look at soil in story form.

The Dirt on Dirt by Paulette Bourgeois – 3-4 – Soil habitats, gardening, dirt, soil, erosion.

Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan – 2-4 – A story about a girl who is excited to help her family make dumplings for the first time for New Year’s celebrations. A good story to introduce ideas of community and family connectedness through food.

E is for Environment by Ian James Corlett – 3+ – A guide for kids to help the environment, written in a positive tone.  Includes discussion questions.

The Enormous Potato by Aubrey Davis – K-2 –  A community comes together to harvest “the world’s biggest potato” and then shares a feast.

Follow that Food: Distribution of Resources by Buffy Silverman – 3+ – A kids’ look at field to table food processes, processing and different ingredients.

From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer – K-2 – Explains in a story how plants grow from seed to fruit.  Good for combining with seed planting activities.

Garbage Helps Our Garden Grow: A compost story by Linda Glaser – K-2 – A look at compost in story form, with kids working on a backyard compost.

The Good Garden: How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough by Katie Smith Milway – gr.3 – Based on true story of Honduran farming family – global awareness.  Different aspects of gardening, farming.  Pretty long – can be read as chapters.

* Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss – K-4  –  Trying new foods.  Dr. Seuss books always keep kids captivated!

Heroes of the Vegetable Patch by Ulf Stark and Charlotte Ramel – K-3 – A great story about taking care of a garden and respecting the plants and bugs.

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? By Margaret McNamara – grades 1-4  –  Counting/math, great story!

Hurry and the Monarch by Antoine O Flatharta – K-2 – A great story with lots of facts about Monarch butterflies, their life cycle and migration.

Inside the Earth: The Magic Schoolbus by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen – 3 – Soil, geology

In the Snow: Who’s Been Here? by Lindsay Barrett George – K-4 – Tracks and winter adaptations.

Je suis bien dans mon assiette: car je respecte mon estomac et ma planete by Jean-René Gombert – 3-6 – Food and the environment, in French.

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert – K-1 – An artistic look at autumn; good for linking with a nature art activity.

Les Fruit et les légumes – trouvez l’erreur by Catherine Coté – 3-4 – Matching

Loaves of Fun by Elizabeth M Harbison – 2-6 – A kids’ look at the science of bread.

The Lorax by Dr Seuss – 2-6 – A great Dr Seuss look at environmental issues and the overuse of natural resources.

Meerkat Mail by Emily Gravett – 2-4 – Written mostly in postcard format, from the perspective of a young meerkat. Good for habitat postcard activity.

Mortimer’s First Garden by Karma Wilson K-2/3  –  Story about a mouse planting his first garden.  Patience of waiting for a seed to grow. Gets religious at the end – read through first and decide how to approach based on audience.

*One Watermelon Seed by Celia Lottridge – K-1 – Counting book – starts with seeds or plants planted, and then counting by tens for harvested crops.

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner – K-3 – Winter adaptations, animals in winter, hibernation, animal tracks.

*Plant a Little Seed by Bonnie Christensen – K-3 – A look at a garden through the seasons, in poetic language. Great for a seasons activity.

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert – K-1 – Colours in nature; links well with nature art activities.

Planting the Wild Garden by Kathryn O Galbraith – K-3 – Seed dispersal in nature.

Secrets of the Garden by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld – 3-4 – Habitats and food chains in the garden.

Secrets of the Seasons by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld – 3-4 – Looking at seasonal cycles in the garden.

A Seed Grows: my first look at a plant’s life cycle by Pamela Hickman – K-2 – Seed planting and how a plant grows from seed to plant.

* The Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman – grade 5/6’ish –  Short novel about the development of a community around a spontaneous, makeshift garden in Cleveland.  Told from the perspectives of a variety of people of different ages, cultures, backgrounds.  Makes reader consider various prejudices.

* A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long  – re grades 2+  –  Lots of scientific information about seeds in an interesting way.  Seed dispersal.  Beautiful illustrations.

*Stone Soup by Jon J Muth – 1-4 – How a community was brought together around sharing food. Introduction to cooking stone soup.

* The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone by Timothy Basil Ering – grades 1-6  –  Changing your environment by growing plants; fantastic illustrations.   I love this one!

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle – Seed dispersal information in story format.

Tracks in the Snow by Wong Herbert Lee – JK/SK – Tracking, animals in winter

The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin – 1-4 – Growing a vegetable garden; multicultural gardens; community connections with gardening.

Up, Down and Around by Katherine Ayres – JK/SK – Garden plants growing under and above the ground; can be used for a movement activity.

Urban Roosts by Barbara Bash – 2-5 – Urban adaptations of birds.

*The Vegetables We Eat by Gail Gibbons – 1-4 – Plant parts we eat.

Wangari’s Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter – 3-6 – About the green movement in Kenya.

Water, Weed and Wait by Edith Hope Fine and Angela Halpin – K-3 – Starting a new school garden.

Weslandia by Paul Fleischman – grades 1-4  –  Changing your environment by growing plants;

What kinds of seeds are these? By Heidi B Roemer – grades K-2 – Guessing/riddles of seed types, what they grow into. Seed dispersal. Great for a drama/movement activity.

* Yucky Worms by Vivian French – K-4 – Lots of scientific information about worms in story form.  Great engaging story!


Reference books for educators and parents


*Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces by Gayla Trail –  Easily accessible information about organic food gardening.  Basic tips and tricks as well as some more advanced advice.  Descriptions (seeding, growing, harvesting) about big variety of edible plants (vegetables, herbs, berries, flowers).

You Grow Girl: The Groundbreaking Guide to Gardening by Gayla Trail – Information and tips for organic gardening in general.  One chapter with specific focus on food gardening, but gardening information from the whole book is relevant to veggie gardening.

*Seed Sowing and Saving: Step-by-Step Techniques for Collecting and Growing More Than 100 Vegetables, Flowers, and Herbs by Carole B. Turner – Easy to understand reference book for how to plant seeds, whether they should be started indoors or direct seeded, when to plant what, as well as how to save seeds.  After renewing from the library as many times as possible, I figured it was finally time to buy it.

*Into Nature – A lot of good, simple outdoor activities.

*Kitchen Garden Cooking with Kids by Stephanie Alexander – Cookbook aimed at kids, with the perspective that kids don’t need “kid food”. The instructions are written in kid-friendly language and steps, but the recipes are great for everyone!

*Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families and Classrooms by Clare Walker Leslie – Nature journals, activities for all seasons.
*Project Seasons by Deborah Parella (Shelburne Farms Book Series) – Seasonal activities for outdoors and about food.

In the Three Sisters Garden: Native American stories and seasonal activities for the curious child  by JoAnne Dennee, Jack Peduzzi and Julia Hand –  Activities for introducing the Three Sisters Garden

How to Grow a School Garden: A Complete Guide for Parents and Teachers  By Arden Bucklin-Sporer and Rachel Pringle –  Getting a school garden running, roles for different people, curriculum activities, ideas of what to grow, equipment needed, budgeting…

*Get Growing!  Activities For Food And Garden Learning: A Teacher Resource For Elementary and Middle Grades by Jolie Mayer-Smith and Linda Peterat – Lots of good curriculum-linked garden activities.

This Organic Life – by Joan Dye Gussow  –  Inspiring and entertaining stories of growing one’s own vegetables in urban areas, and the reasons for doing so.  Mixed with interesting political and historical perspectives.

More to come…  (And please comment if you have any suggestions!)


One response to this post.

  1. […] She is the coordinator, and teaches children about where their food comes from and how to grow it. She has a list of great books on her blog that you might want to consider sharing with a young person near […]


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