Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Gardening with Children

Gardening with Children

Monika Hannemann, Brian Johnson, Patricia Hulse, Barbara Kurland
Illustrator:  Sam Tomasello 
For ages 6 to 10
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2007   ISBN: 978-1889538303

You may not know it but you are part of a very special community, a natural community made up of trees, plants, and wild animals. And you are in the middle of this community even if you live in a town or a city. All you have to do is slow down and take a close look at the plants, the soil, and the natural spaces around you. Have you ever really explored a garden? Well with this book to help you, you will discover that there is a fantastic world living in a garden, a world which is complex and interesting. Better still you can become a part of that world by planting things in that garden and by watching to see what happens to the things that you grow. This book will show you how to plant seeds, how to take care of them, and which insects are "friend or foe" to your plants.

As you continue to explore your place in nature and as you work in your garden, you will learn all about how plants "are essential for life." You will learn how they trap the energy of the sun and turn it into food. Indeed without plants, life on earth would be quite impossible. You will discover how plants feed animals of all kinds. There are the wild plants that wild creatures depend on, and then there are the plants that we deliberately cultivate so that we can harvest the fruits and vegetables that these plants produce.

Don't forget that the relationship between animals and plants works both ways. Just as the plants feed the animals, the animals also help the plants – they pollinate them and disperse their seeds for them.

Finally, nature's community has another remarkable feature, it recycles everything. Water, soil, leaves, plant matter; these things all end up getting recycled and used again. Nothing is wasted. Without a doubt we have much to learn from a system which is so efficient.

This excellent book will show young readers that they are part of a wonderful world which is beautiful, fascinating, and theirs to enjoy. It is also theirs to care for and protect. Packed with information and with lots of activities to try, this is a book which will help children to discover how special nature is through the joy of gardening. They will discover that they are not outside of nature but part of it. They will also discover how much fun can be had in the garden when, among other things, you plant seeds, make a scarecrow, make a bird feeder, and plant your own butterfly garden in a window box.

A section at the back of the book will give adults advice on how best to use this book with the children in their lives.