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11 Best Children's Picture Books About Gardens and Gardening

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These 11 children's picture books about gardens and gardening celebrate the joys of planting seeds and bulbs, cultivating a garden, and enjoying the flowers and vegetables that result. It's hard for young children to imagine that the little seed they planted will grow into a beautiful flower or a favorite vegetable. It almost seems magical, as is the effect gardens can have on people. These children's picture books about gardens and gardening includes books for children from two- to ten-years-old.

1. Isabella's Garden

Cover art for Isabella's Garden, a children's picture book
Candlewick Press
Isabella's Garden is a delightful picture book by Glenda Millard, with colorful stylized mixed media illustrations by Rebecca Cool. Rather than focusing on gardening in the spring and summer only, Isabella's Garden focuses on the garden year round.  It's an excellent read aloud for children 3 to 6 years old. The book was published by Candlewick Press in 2009. The ISBN is 9780763660161.  Read my review of Isabella's Garden.

2. And Then It's Spring

Cover of And Then It's Spring picture book
Roaring Book Press
First time author Julie Fogliano and Erin E. Stesd, a Caldecott Medal winner for picture book illustration, have collaborated to create an excellent picture book for children ages 4 and up. And Then It's Spring is the story of a little boy eager for winter to be over and for the brown landscape to turn green again. This is a story children will want to hear again and again. Children will also enjoy the detailed illustrations, finding something new everytime they look at them. Read my review of And Then It's Spring.

3. The Carrot Seed

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Kraus
HarperCollins

Ruth Krauss's classic little picture book for children 2 to 5 is a delight. The spare and simple line drawings are by Crockett Johnson, well-known for Harold and the Purple Crayon. A little boy plants a carrot seed. Despite being told by his entire family that the seed won’t grow, the boy perseveres. Every day, he carefully weeds and waters the area where he planted the seed. A plant grows, and one day, the boy is rewarded with a big orange carrot. (HarperCollins, 1945. ISBN: 9780060233501) Read the review of The Carrot Seed.

4. Flower Garden

Cover Art of the children's picture book Flower Garden
Photo courtesy of PriceGrabber

It’s nice to see a book about how a family living in a city apartment creates a garden. A little girl and her father go to the grocery store and buy flowering plants. Then, they take the bus back to their city apartment. There they plant a window box as a birthday present for her mother. Eve Bunting’s charming story is told in rhyme and illustrated with lovely realistic paintings by Kathryn Hewitt. This book has been a hit with three- to six-year-olds. (Voyager Books, 2000. ISBN: 0152023720)

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5. Planting a Rainbow

Cover Art of the children's picture book Planting A Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
Photo Courtesy of PriceGrabber

I’ve found that children four and older, as well as adults, want to go out and plant a rainbow of flowers after enjoying this book by Lois Ehlert. A mother and child “plant a rainbow,” beginning with bulbs in the fall and seeds and seedlings in the spring, and ending with a beautiful garden of flowers in a veritable rainbow of colors. The book’s striking design and Ehlert’s gorgeous cut-paper collages of flowers make this a particularly appealing book. (Voyager Books, 1988. ISBN: 0152626107)

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6. Sunflower House

Cover art of the children's picture book Sunflower House about gardening and fun in the garden
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This picture book by Eve Bunting is sure to inspire three- to eight-year-olds to plant their own sunflower houses. Lovely realistic illustrations in watercolor and colored pencil by Kathryn Hewitt complement the rhyming text. A little boy plants a circle of sunflower seeds in the spring. By summer, the boy has a “sunflower house” where he and his friends enjoy many hours of fun. When fall comes, both birds and children collect and scatter seeds. (Voyager Books, 1999. ISBN: 0152019529)

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7. The Gardener

Cover art of The Gardener children's picture book and Caldecott Honor Book
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During the Depression, young Lydia is sent to the city to stay with her Uncle Jim, a reserved, somber man, “until things get better.” She brings her love of gardens with her. The text, in the form of Lydia’s letters home, and the double-page artwork by David Small joyously illustrate how Lydia creates gardens that transform both the neighborhood and her relationship with Uncle Jim. I recommend the Caldecott Honor Book for six- to 10-year-olds. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997. ISBN: 9780374325176)

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8. City Green

Cover Art of the children's picture book City Green
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What happens when a diverse group of city neighbors works together to rid their street of a litter-filled vacant lot? How young Mary, Miss Rosa, and their neighbors transform the vacant lot into a community garden of flowers and vegetables makes an interesting and realistic story. Author and illustrator DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan’s artwork in watercolor, pencils, and crayons captures the transformation of the lot. I recommend the book for six- to 10-year-olds. (HarperCollins, 1994. ISBN: 068812786X)

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9. The Garden of Happiness

Cover art of the children's picture book The Garden of Happiness
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Barbara Lambase’s oil paintings, alive with the rich color and movement of city life in a diverse neighborhood, add drama to Erika Tamar’s story of a little girl named Marisol and a new community garden. When Marisol plants a seed she’s found, it grows into a giant sunflower, to her neighbor’s delight. Her sadness when the sunflower dies in the fall is forgotten when Marisol sees the beautiful mural of sunflowers that teen artists have created. (Harcourt Brace, 1996. ISBN: 0152305823)

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10. Growing Vegetable Soup

Cover art of children's picture book Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
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Author and illustrator Lois Ehlert’s cut-paper collages are bold and colorful. The story of a father and child’s vegetable garden project is told in rhyme. While the text of the story is brief, each of the plants, seeds, and gardening tools illustrated is labeled, making this a book that’s fun to read aloud and then read through again identifying everything. The story begins with the planting of seeds and sprouts and ends with delicious vegetable soup. (Voyager Books, 1990. ISBN: 0152325808)

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11. And the Good Brown Earth

Cover art of children's picture book And the Good Brown Earth about gardens and gardening
Cover Art Courtesy of PriceGrabber

Author and illustrator Kathy Henderson’s mixed media artwork adds humor and charm to this picture book for three- to six-year-olds. Joe and Gram plant and cultivate a garden. Gram works methodically while Joe explores and learns, each helped by “the good brown earth.” They dig in the fall, plan in the winter, plant in the spring, weed and water in summer, and gather produce and feast in late summer. The repetition in the text adds to the book’s appeal. (Candlewick Press, 2003. ISBN: 9780763638412)

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