Creative Family Living

The Artful Gardener? +Some Gardening Books for Kids and Parents

Gardening Books for Kids and Parents

My perennials are coming back! I’m so thrilled.

You can tell I’m new to gardening for this to be such a miracle to me.

I love gardening.

You know this. I’ve told you this. I realize that I’ve also told you that this blog is about ART and so I will try to keep most of my posts focused on that subject.

However! It is spring and my gardening heart is going pitter patter and my time is being spent outdoors more and more as the days get warmer, and so I am going to warn you that I might also post about GARDENING from time to time. I’ll also warn you that my love of gardening doesn’t always translate into a beautiful yard and garden.

I’m working on it but I’m still a newbie.

Gardening with Kids

Anyway, I’ll start with this—a birthday present from Harry. He had built me two raised beds when we first moved into our house, but it wasn’t enough for all the vegetables I wanted to grow. I tried growing squash in the flower garden and tomatoes in pots in a ring around the yard, but I really just needed (wanted) a couple of extra garden beds. And now I have them.

Thank you sweetie!

Raised Garden Beds

I already have three of the four beds planted with spinach, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, kyoto mizuna (an asian green that sounded good in  John Scheeper’s Kitchen Garden Seeds catalog), broccoli, cabbage, and parsley. Along the fence I have peas and beets. And in the back I have potatoes.

I know it doesn’t look like much now. But I’m sure I will feel inspired to give you updates occasionally (probably whether you want them or not).

Oh, and I have herbs over on the other side of the yard, including rosemary, lemon thyme, Greek oregeno, summer savory, chives, cilantro, and dill. When the weather gets warmer I’ll start growing some of the warm weather stuff such as tomatoes, beans, squash, melons, basil, cucumbers, etc. You wanted to know all that, right?

I’ve just finished re-reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and am motivated to grow as much of our own food as possible this summer.

Not that I’m just into veggies.

I also love, love, love flowers and have started a bunch of annuals indoors (in addition to being in a tizzy over my perennials coming up).

Maia Watering

To make all this relevant to parenting, I’ll share my attempt to raise a gardener, or at least someone who appreciates nature and the miracle of growing things. Last year Maia picked almost all of my tomatoes while they were still green, so clearly it’s a work in process. However, she also ate fresh carrots and peas straight from the garden!

She has her own set of gardening tools (thanks to her grandma, who tried to raise me a gardener and who seemingly failed until I was in my twenties) and a new child-sized wheelbarrow. I’m thinking of buying one of those half whiskey barrels this year so Maia can have her very own, toddler-sized garden.

Some Gardening Books for Kids and Parents

Gardening Books for Kids and Parents by Sharon Lovejoy

Sharon Lovejoy, author of my favorite children’s gardening books including Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots and Sunflower Houses talks about the importance of children having their very own plot (or pot) even if they water the plants too much, pull the radishes prematurely, etc. The point is that they feel ownership of the garden.

Gardening Books for Kids by Lois Ehlert

We’re also enjoying reading picture books about gardening. Two that we have and like about vegetable gardening are: Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert as well as her book, Eating the Alphabet.

Jacks Garden Gardening book for children

Jack’s Garden by Henry Cole is another good one.

Gardening Books for Kids by Eve Bunting

Eve Bunting is a favorite author of ours and she has a couple of gardening books for kids, including Sunflower House and Flower Garden.

Do you have any favorites to share? I’m always on the lookout for some good gardening books for kids.

And that, my friends, is the end of my (very long) post about gardening. Thank you for reading.


  • Reply
    April 2, 2008 at 9:22 am

    I like to read my boys books about gardening. Some of our favorites:
    – Bear and Bunny Grow Tomatoes – hilarious book
    – A Surprise Garden
    – A Carrot Seed
    – Eating Through the Alphabet – a good introduction to perhaps unfamiliar vegetables and fruit.

  • Reply
    April 2, 2008 at 9:26 am

    keep the “artful gardener” posts coming, jean… especially as we are in our first garden season around here. we, too, are thinking of digging the boys their very own garden where they can have total ownership. we might even put in fake plants that they can plant and replant. not too organic, but sounds fun to me!
    we’ve loved a gift from my mom titled “Spring is Here;” it’s a Fisher-Price Little People bk, with “over 40 fun flamps to lift.”
    justin loves his “garden book…” as he calls it… and loves the flaps, loves naming all the food in the garden, seeing the kids tend to the garden, and seeing all the description of the spring season in general. it’s a board bk, so it holds up well. we’ve loved these FP flap bks and have been impressed with how kids of a wide age range love them.
    happy gardening!

  • Reply
    April 2, 2008 at 9:29 am

    we’re liking A Carrot Seed as well!

  • Reply
    Sharon Lovejoy
    April 2, 2008 at 10:42 am

    Wonderful, inspirational, and heartfelt blog. I love it! And, thanks so much for mentioning my book Roots Shoots Buckets Boots! I am working on a new one now (The Green Granny Gospels), which focuses on food, gardens, art, nature, all for grown-ups to share with your children. It looks like it is just right for you and your family. Not out ’til ’09 though.
    My blog is quiet compared to yours, but when you have time please check it out. I actually just got it rolling in late October.
    Spring garden blessings to you! Sharon Lovejoy

  • Reply
    April 2, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Gardening is like art, so keep it coming! We’ve just planted our first garden and we’re learning so much. I’m looking forward to reading about your progress.
    Our favorite gardening books right now are Scarlette Beane by Karen Wallace, Up, Down Around by Katherine Ayers and Tops Bottoms by Janet Stevens.

  • Reply
    April 2, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    We’re loving Scarlette Beane right now too. Going to check out Roots Shoots Buckets and Boots now — the title has me intrigued! Ben has his own bed in our bigger vegetable garden, in which he planted a little of everything we have planted so far.
    I’m interested in your garden updates, keep writing about it please!

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    April 2, 2008 at 9:46 am

    We’ve gotten The Carrot Seed from the library and like it a lot. Haven’t heard of the others though, so I’ll have to check them out. Thanks!
    Hmm. Not sure about the fake plants, Rachel. :) Maybe they could be supplemented by a few real ones…

  • Reply
    April 2, 2008 at 10:32 am

    I expect my perennials every year and am still excited. The bleeding hearts sprouting means it is really spring. I noticed them yesterday. Yeah!

  • Reply
    April 2, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    We’re going to make (paint) a “rock garden” this week – something I learned about on another blog — and start planting seeds next week! It’s a very exciting time of the year.

  • Reply
    April 2, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    we also loved “up, down, and around,” btw. i look forward to checking out these other gardening bks! always love the bk recommendations!
    yeah, i figured my “fake plants in the boys’ garden” idea would get shot down, but i think i’ll try it anyway! mixing them with some real ones is a good idea too, though… i’ll consent… ;)

  • Reply
    Julie Liddle (ART IN HAND)
    April 2, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Some more books for you:
    “A Seed is Sleepy” by Artist Sylvia Long and author Dianna Hutts Aston. I have their first book, “An Egg is Quiet”, and it is LOVELY.
    Here’s a description from the website
    Artist Sylvia Long and author Dianna Hutts Aston first teamed up to create the award-winning An Egg Is Quiet, a lush and vibrant picture book that examines animal eggs in exquisite detail. Now they have come together again to create A Seed Is Sleepy, a gorgeous and informative introduction to a fascinating array of seeds. Each book is at once poetic in voice and elegant in design, making them guides that are as equally at home being read to a child on a parent’s lap as in a classroom reading circle.
    A great fictional tale about gardening (your daughter may appreciate the humor more in a year or two) is “Tops and Bottoms” by Janet Stevens about a clever rabbit who outsmarts a lazy bear by engaging in a gardening “partnership” wherein he always manages to reap the fruits of the crop for himself and his family.
    You mentioned one book by Ehlert. She is one of my all-time favorites, and many of her books feature flowers and veggies…usually at the back of the book she provides an illustrated glossary of all the plants/flowers in the book.
    Some titles that come to mind that you might like: Waiting for Wings (top of my list); Feathers for Lunch; Eating the Alphabet (strictly a veggie book, but the watercolors are irresistable); there are more…just check out her section in the library.
    I’m with you…art and nature are closely tied…and a big focus of the kind of art I like to do with toddlers and preschoolers (in fact, you can check out my most recent article at on this very subject, titled The Art of Springtime)

  • Reply
    April 2, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Happy belated birthday!
    I enjoyed the gardening post. We’re renting a house right now, so no garden, but I’m definitely saving up ideas and inspiration for when the time comes. Even thinking about doing some container gardening while we’re here. You’re raised beds look so nice and neat–what a meaningful bday gift!
    A while back I checked an interesting book out at the library entitled The Children’s Kitchen Garden by Georgeanne and Ethel Brennan. It tells the story of a school in Berkeley, CA, where students and teachers garden together. It’s part inspiration and part instruction–might be something you’d be interested in. Here’s a link. Just thought I’d share!
    Look forward to hearing about your progress!

  • Reply
    melissa s.
    April 2, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    I think the creative processes of art and gardening go hand in hand, so I think gardening fits perfectly on your blog. I’m also a huge fan of animal vegetable miracle. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if she wrote a children’s book? I’m going to add some of these children book mentions to our library list, thanks. And happy belated bday!!

  • Reply
    April 2, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Lois Ehlert’s Planting A Rainbow. Love the pics! Your new beds are so inviting…

  • Reply
    April 2, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    found this post tonight and thought of you:

  • Reply
    April 3, 2008 at 3:04 am

    We’ve been gathering the supplies this week to try to make the moonflower tent from Roots, Shoots, Buckets, and Boots. I’ll let you know how it turns out! Thanks for the book suggestions — we’re off to the library today!

  • Reply
    April 3, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Eddie’s Garden: And How to Make Things Grow by Sarah Garland is one of our favourite books.

  • Reply
    April 3, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Hi Jean,
    I’ve been lurking and enjoying your blog for a while, but I had to comment on Roots Shoots Buckets Boots because I just bought this book this weekend at the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens. And as I was waiting in line to buy it in the giftshop a woman behind me said, “that’s my book”— it was Sharon Lovejoy!! She graciously signed my book to my two girls and she suggested a couple of projects from the book- her favorite is the Sunflower House. It’s always fun to meet author/illustrators. Enjoy your garden!

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    April 3, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Hey everyone. Thanks for your encouragement to continue posting about gardening in addition to art! And thank you for all the children’s gardening book recommendations!! I’m writing them all down now and hope to check them out from the library.
    Sharon – Thanks for stopping by! The Green Granny Gospels sound great. Sounds like the kind of granny I want to be one day–a granny who shares cooking, gardening, art, and nature with the kids around me. If any of you want to check out her blog, it’s
    Julie – Thanks for the link to all those gardening books! What a wonderful post.
    OTJenH – Yes, please let us know how your moonflower tent turns out! I’ve been wanting to make that too (as well as everything else in Roots, Shoots, Buckets Boots).

  • Reply
    Marilyn G
    April 3, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    what a WONDERFUL blog u have here. PLease Don’t stop giving accounts about ur gardening experince with ur lil’ One.
    We just moved here and My DD’s were VERY excited when we told them last Saturday that we have purchased a House with a Large Garden. Our rental was feasible for planting{sad} but all that changes in 3weeks.
    Soooo Keep it Coming.

  • Reply
    Mommy Bee
    April 4, 2008 at 5:43 am

    Hi Jean-
    I saw this post on Z Recommends and thought of you!

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    April 4, 2008 at 5:58 am

    Yes! I just saw that too! Very exciting.

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