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Think spring by checking out a book

April 16, 2010|By DAWN BORGARDT / Special to The Herald-Mail
  • "Growing Vegetable Soup" by Lois Ehlert is a fresh presentation of the gardening cycle with a joyful conclusion, and the added attraction of an easy and tasty recipe for vegetable soup on the flyleaf.
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What a better way to celebrate spring than to dig in the dirt?

With sunny weather in the forecast and the promise of more April showers ahead, this is the perfect time to celebrate gardening with your favorite young person. Planting a garden is a great way to spend time outdoors and learn a little bit of science along the way. At the Washington County Free Library, we have many books to inspire your inner gardener.

To learn the basics of growing your own food, check out Amie Jane Leavitt's book, "A Backyard Vegetable Garden for Kids." If you are interested in the science and ecology behind gardening, read Suzanne Winkler's "Planting the Seed."

For a great story of the positive impact gardening can have on people, read the Caldecott Honor book "The Gardener" by Sarah Stewart in which Lydia Grace Finch moves to the busy big city. Initially she is intimidated by her surroundings, but makes herself at home by transforming her roof into a garden oasis.

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Or you might recall the childhood song "Inch by Inch" by reading the beautifully illustrated book of the same title by David Mallet.

For more how-to and inspiration, check out any of the following at your local library - or ask your librarian for more suggestions.

o "Growing Vegetable Soup" by Lois Ehlert. Ages 3 to 6.

A fresh presentation of the gardening cycle with a joyful conclusion, and the added attraction of an easy and tasty recipe for vegetable soup on the flyleaf. Lois Ehlert has written several other gardening related books, as well.

o "Tiny Green Thumbs" by C.Z. Guest. Ages 3 to 6.

In this how-to book in the guise of a story, Ganny Bun tutors her grandson, Tiny Bun, on the "six things you need to grow a garden." Brief horticultural discussions between them serve as prefaces to Guest's (a nationally syndicated gardening columnist and magazine publisher) easy-to-follow instructions.

o "I heard it from Alice Zucchini : Poems about the Garden" by Juanita Havill. Ages 5 to 11.

In this highly acclaimed book, 20 illustrated poems depict a fairy who visits a garden and listens to the stories of the garden vegetables.

o "Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots : Gardening Together with Children" by Sharon Lovejoy. Ages 5 to 9.

In this book, "Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots," Sharon Lovejoy presents 12 spirited, easy-to-implement ideas for theme gardens that parents and kids can grow together.

o "A Backyard Vegetable Garden for Kids" by Amie Jane Leavitt. Ages 5-10

In this step-by-step guide, you'll find out how to plan, design, grow and harvest your own vegetable garden. You'll find that gardening is even more fun when you can eat what you have planted. You'll learn which are the perfect plants to grow in your area, what tools you'll need, and how to prepare a garden plot. You'll also discover techniques to help your vegetables grow their best, such as which plants grow well together and which ones don't.

o "Inch by inch : The Garden Song" by David Mallett. Ages 3 to 6.

A popular folk song is brought to life in this charming picture book, which also includes the music and lyrics of the 1975 original tune. The cheerful illustrations are bold and expressive, exuding a primitive childlike quality as they show a young boy tending his garden.

o "Garden Crafts for Kids : 50 Great Reasons to get your Hands Dirty" by Diane Rhodes. Ages 8 to 11.

Get ready for plenty of gardening fun as kids become adventurers, explorers, scientists, chefs, inventors, and friends of the earth - all in one. They can plant their own family tree, camp out ill a bean teepee, start a garden in a boot or grow potatoes in old tires. Whether they live in a house or an apartment, in the country or the city, kids can grow vegetables to eat, flowers to smell (and even eat), and other plants to enjoy.

o "Organic Gardening for Kids" by Elizabeth School. Ages 8 to 11.

People all around the world enjoy the hobby of gardening. They love planting tiny seeds in the soil and watching them sprout into mature plants. Gardening isn't just for adults, however. Kids can plan, create, and maintain their own gardens, too. "Gardening for Kids" is rich with ideas and instructions for making water gardens, flower gardens, vegetable gardens, perennial gardens, butterfly gardens, landscape designs and more.

o "Sopa de zanahoria" by John Segal. Ages 3 to 6.

Spring is in the air and carrot soup is on the menu, but what happened to Rabbit's precious crop? This charming tale of friendship comes complete with a recipe for making your very own batch of carrot soup. Check it out in Spanish or in its English version "Carrot Soup."

o "The Gardener" by Sarah Stewart. Ages 5 to 8.

In this Caldecott Honor Book, it's 1935, and when her family can't make ends meet, young Lydia Grace is sent to live with her Uncle Jim, a baker in the city. However, Lydia takes her love for gardening with her and sets out to make grumpy Uncle Jim smile.

o "Planting the Seed : A Guide to Gardening" by Suzanne Winckler. Ages 9 to 13.

A book for readers willing to invest time and effort in planting outdoors. Winckler describes the relationship between climate and plants and explains why a gardener should think twice about trying to adapt a plant to one's backyard: "Forcing a plant to grow where it does not belong is like making penguins live in a tropical rain forest." An advocate for organic gardening, she explains the science of composting and sheds light on insects and reptiles that help or hurt gardens.

- Dawn Borgardt is a children's librarian at the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown.

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