Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

gardening books kids

9 kids’ books that inspire a love of gardening

From fun, instructional books to community gardens to magical adventures.

For the month of March and the beginning of spring, it’s a perfect time to get outside with loved ones, dig in the dirt, and maybe plant a thing or two. To get inspired, we’ve asked local bookstores to share their favorite kids’ gardening books with us, and here they are! 

Island Books gives us a lovely variety of picture books, exciting how-tos, and something for big kids, too. 

City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan.  This classic picture book is a fantastic combination of hopeful and instructional, inspiring kids to create community gardens in their own neighborhoods and with information on just how to do it.

Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker.  This brand new middle grade novel from the bestselling author of Pax brings a touching story of a boy with a big imagination who feels lost in the real world of summer camp. When he meets a girl named Jolene who likes to plant things in an empty lot at the camp, his opinion of the world is challenged and complicated by their love for the lot.

Easy Peasy Gardening for Kids edited by Little Gestalt.  This nonfiction introduction to gardening is perfect for any little one interested in helping things grow with activities and lessons. Great for families living in the city, the country, or anywhere in between.

Phinney Books offers a personalized list of sweet books, one of which is written by a Seattle author! You can’t purchase these online, so head to the shop on Fridays at 11 a.m. for storytime with your youngest readers, and pick one up while you’re there.

Grow: A Family Guide to Growing Fruits and Vegetables by Ben Raskin. A lively interactive guide for kids age 5 to 10, which explains how plants grow but also provides practical tips for how to plant, compost, and harvest.

Zora’s Zucchini by Katherine Pryor and Anna Raff. From Seattle author Pryor (and Seattle publisher Readers to Eaters), a picture book that dramatizes one of the biggest problems that can threaten any home gardener: too many zucchinis!

The Plant Sitter by Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham. This one’s a little harder to find—it’s been out of print for years—but I just ran across it for the first time in decades while going through my parents’ old books and was immediately reminded how much I loved this story of a boy who starts a home plant-sitting business that quickly gets out of control. Somebody republish this one, please!

Third Place Books came through yet again with an amazing list, featuring cultural diversity, self-care, and (yes!) magic, all of which teach us the importance of tending to a garden. 

Tokyo Digs a Garden by Jon-Erik Lappano and illustrated by Kellen Hatanaka. Tokyo lives in a city with his parents and grandfather, who reminisces about the lush forest their home once was. When Tokyo receives some seeds and plants them under a brick in his backyard, their ecological magic begins to sprout. This thoughtful and surprising book gives new meaning to the term urban ecology & will inspire readers to create their own green oasis in the city.

Alma and the Beast by Esme Shapiro. In this gloriously magical (and hairy!) adventure of finding your way home and finding a friend along the way, this heartwarming picturebook will surely leave you dreaming of plumpooshkie butterflies and braiding trees long after the day grows chilly and pink.

My Hair Is a Garden by Cozbi A. Cabrera. This beautiful picturebook celebrates and gently informs about an integral part of a self-care routine: tending to your hair, just as you would cultivate a garden. Though the book’s undoubted focus is on Black girls and overcoming the negative feedback they receive about their natural hair, this book’s extended garden metaphor is accessible to all.

Originally published in February 2020

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