I’m always on the lookout for books geared toward kids that encourage them to check out what’s going on outdoors. Books after all are great at sparking the imagination and once a child begins to picture the possibilities she is more likely to head outside to investigate. And to me a kid excited about out in nature is a good thing.
I was thrilled to meet Arkansas author Dawn Denton while I was speaking to the Bentonville Garden Club. Dawn is a garden designer and former teacher who combines her dedication to preserving and appreciating the outdoors with her expertise with children to create the wonderful Guest in the Garden book series. The Last Leaf, Ruby and Rocket, Oliver the Toad and Betzy the Bumblebee relay life lessons, garden and animal facts in light-hearted, entertaining tales, perfect for the young children you’re shopping for.
The Last Leaf
Click here to buy The Last Leaf from the author.
From the authorThis picture book is geared for young children ages 2-6. With rhyming words, your child will explore all the emotions that you might feel as the last leaf on a tree in the fall. (From the author.)
Ruby and the Rocket
Click here to buy Ruby and the Rocket from the author.
A beautifully illustrated children’s book about a brother and sister hummingbird who discover a backyard garden. Come along with Ruby and Rocket to learn fun hummingbird facts, flower facts, and a life lesson of learning to be friends when you are siblings. (From the author.)
Oliver the Toad
Click here to buy Oliver the Toad from the author.
This delightful story will take your child on a journey through a vegetable garden where they will learn toad facts, vegetable facts, and the life lesson of responsibility. (From the author.)
Betzy the Bumblebee
Buy Betzy the Bumblebee from the author.
Beautifully illustrated children’s book that introduces your child to bumblebee facts, wildflower facts, and the life lesson of learning to love being you. (From the author.)
Children who are involved in gardening reap benefits that are both tangible and intangible. Studies show they tend to eat more vegetables and be healthier overall, while growing a portion of their own food provides them with a sense of self-reliance, knowledge of plants, awareness of the seasons and higher self-esteem. Involvement in gardening helps them understand their connection to the earth and encourages eco-friendly living. Moreover, hands-on experience with gardening connects them with the agricultural roots of America.
I believe that teaching children to garden helps them to see the parallels between the care and growth of living things with the care and growth of their own lives, families and communities. You could say that it’s my mission to grow more gardeners so I was delighted when Bonnie Plants asked me to travel to southeast Arkansas to meet Emily McTigrit of Star City’s Jimmy Brown Elementary School.
Emily grew a 16-pound cabbage with a circumference of 43.5 inches this year, making her Arkansas’ Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program winner.
Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program provides more than one million free cabbage plants to 3rd grade classes around the country each year. This program fosters a love of vegetable gardening in youth. Here’s how it works: Children raise their cabbages at home or in the school garden with the goal of growing a monster-size cabbage. The variety, the O.S. Cross, produces giant heads, and some have been known to grow up to 50 pounds. That’s right— a 50-pound head of cabbage! At the end of the season, the child who grows the largest cabbage in the state wins a $1,000 scholarship.
Emily was presented with her check in a school-wide assembly, and I interviewed her for my TV show. She told me all about how she watered and fertilized the cabbage, made sure to pick a sunny location and how the 16 pounds of cabbage provided her family with buckets of coleslaw.
Visit BonnieCabbageProgram.com to see more big cabbages and learn how to participate in the program.