With Spring in the air and daffodils donning their yellow bonnets, now is the time of year when my thoughts turn to gardening. Pruning rose bushes and planting bulbs in the hopes of a riot of colour and creepy-crawlies come Summer. My boys love helping me choose which bulbs and bedding plants to purchase and thoroughly enjoy getting their hands dirty doing some planting.
If you’re hoping to inspire an interest in plants, minibeasts or gardening, one of these beautiful books might just help get those green fingers tingling. Or perhaps a puzzle which explains very simply how seeds shoot and flower?
‘We Found a Seed’ by Rob Ramsden (Scallywag Press)
Two friends find a seed. They aren’t sure what to do with it so they tuck it away safely and sing to it. When the seed doesn’t grow, they listen and listen until the seed tells them what to do.
This is a beautifully illustrated book which celebrates the life cycle of a sunflower seed and clearly shows little ones what a seed needs to grow into a beautiful flower. Very simple text accompanied by joyous illustrations makes this an excellent introduction to the wonder and science of growing plants for young readers. 3+
‘My First Story Puzzle: Nature’ illustrated by Kanae Sato (Lawrence King Publishing)
This little gem of a jigsaw set contains five three-piece puzzles designed to help very little ones learn and sequence simple stories. Watch a tree grow leaves then blossom after the Winter, or a rainbow form after the sun peeks out from behind a rain cloud.
The puzzles would suit anyone aged aged 2 and up, providing plenty of opportunities for building vocabulary, developing coordination and encouraging a curiosity of the world around us.
‘Nature’s Tiny Miracle Bee’ by Britta Teckentrup, text by Patricia Hegarty (Little Tiger Press)
Follow Bee on her journey as she sets out through meadows, woodlands, and gardens, collecting pollen and nectar from every flower. Using the midday sun as her compass and leaving a trail behind her, Bee heads back to her hive to get the other bees to come out gathering too.
Originally published in a larger format, this board book version of Britta’s classic will withstand many re-readings by many budding bee keepers. Her trademark illustrations paired with poetic story telling are bound to cause a buzz about bees wherever they’re shared. 5+
‘Curious Kids: Bugs and Minibeasts’ by Jonny Marx, illustrated by Christiane Engel (Caterpillar Books)
This book features a stunning pop-out element on each page, and encourages readers to engage their senses as they learn about the creatures within. Feel the tickle of a caterpillar’s hairs, hear the buzz of bees and watch the mighty ants lifting 50 times their body weight!
There’s a little bit of everything in here: life cycles, habitats and anatomy, all in bite-sized nuggets for young minds to savour. Engel’s bold, colourful illustrations will hold attention and include lots of little details to enjoy. 3+
‘In the Garden’ by Emma Giuliani (Princeton Architectural Press)
This wonderful large-scale book introduces readers to siblings Plum and Robin, who lead them on a season by season tour of their garden. Watch the seasons change, see the plants grow and flower, learn about some of the species or creatures you might spot whilst you’re visiting.
I love the vast array of flaps to lift, revealing hints and tips about how to get the best out of your garden. It also teaches readers lots of scientific vocabulary and exposes them to varieties of fruit and vegetables they may not have come across before, due to this title being from an American publisher. 6+
‘In the Garden’ by Noëlle Smit, translated by Laura Watkinson (Little Island Books)
Take a walk through a year in the life of a family’s garden, from the bleak emptiness of January to a lush riot of colour in July. Help pick the apples in September and toast marshmallows to celebrate the end of another year.
Really gorgeous! I love the slightly vintage feel to Smit’s artwork which guides us on a month-by-month tour of a little girl’s garden and greenhouse. This would be the perfect beginners’ guide for new gardeners young and old, giving hints and tips about what to plant and harvest when. 3+
‘Can You Find 12 Busy Bees?’ By Gordon Winch & Patrick Shirvington (New Frontier Publishing)
Take a tour through an Australian garden, counting kookaburras and finding fat frogs. On each page, there are several creatures hidden in the watercolour illustrations. It will take all of a young reader’s powers of observation to find and count them all!
Winch’s clever clues, full of alliteration and bounce, paired with Shirvington’s classic watercolour illustrations are a perfect pairing. They perfectly capture the beauty of a garden on a Summer’s day. 4+
‘The Little Gardener: Helping Children Connect With the Natural World’ by Julie A. Cerny, illustrated by Ysemay Dercon (Princeton Architectural Press)
This gorgeous title reminds me rather nostalgically of the types of volumes I might have found tucked away on my grandma’s bookshelf with well-thumbed pages. Part guide and part teaching tool, this book is the perfect choice for any adult hoping to inspire the next generation of gardeners.
Each chapter is packed with hints, types and anecdotes aimed to help you plan and create your garden. From mapping it out to cultivating the perfect soil, to growing and harvesting your own food – everything here is covered that you’ll need to know to help deepen your connection to nature. I can imagine this being passed down the generations with hand-written notes in the margins and mud-stains on the pages.
If this beautiful selection doesn’t encourage you to get outside and get exploring, nothing will!
*Many thanks to all the publishers who sent me these titles to review*