With the arrival of summer and travel restrictions still in place it’s time to get creative with our explorations. Grab a great book and virtually travel to another garden using your imagination. Children’s books can present insightful themes and experiences along with delightful images. Here are a few of my favorite children’s books that engage my imagination and help me to think of gardening differently.
“Miss Rumphius,” written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney, explores the relationship between a young girl and grandfather and the advice he gave her to make the world a more beautiful place. As a grown woman, Miss Rumphius explored many beautiful areas of the world and wondered how she could bring anymore beauty. She settled on the idea of scattering lupine seeds everywhere she went. This simple action allowed everyone to enjoy the beauty of the blooming flowers unifying the neighborhood.
“Growing Vegetable Soup,” by Lois Ehlert, follows the journey of a family growing the plants necessary to provide a harvest suitable to make vegetable soup. The anticipation of the child telling the story includes the steps they follow and the care they give to the seedlings as they grow into mature plants. This story makes a nice companion to a summer garden project for a child.
There are many lessons to be learned in the garden. “Grandpa Green” is a lovely, intergenerational story about the role a garden can play in our lives. Author-illustrator Lane Smith leads the reader through the life of the narrator’s great-grandfather through images in the garden. The illustrations are full of imagination and wonderful memories from the great-grandfather’s life.
“Blueberries for Sal,” by Robert McCloskey, identifies how nature feeds many species and how we are all related in our quest for survival. This classic children’s story can accompany a lesson on co-existing with animals and establishing a healthy landscape that can also feed the wildlife.
Consider how you can create a reading nook within your garden. A place to hang a hammock, an outdoor couch or even a patch of lawn with some throw pillows can be an inviting space to take an adventure through a book. You may even add an outdoor library by securing a weatherproof box, such as a mailbox, in the garden. You can stock it with books to encourage readers to take a break and enjoy a journey.
Though we can’t physically visit all of the lovely gardens we would like to see right now, we can take this time to focus on learning and growing. Even children’s books can offer a new perspective and approach to gardening.
“Miss Rumphius,” written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney. Published by Puffin Books. Copyright 1982.
“Growing Vegetable Soup,” written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert. Published by Scholastic. Copyright 1992.
“Grandpa Green,” written and illustrated by Lane Smith. Published by Roaring Book Press. Copyright 2011.
“Blueberries for Sal,” written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey. Published by The Viking Press. Copyright 1948
Cynthia Domenghini is an instructor and coordinator for K-State’s horticultural therapy online certificate program.