Pat’s Favorite Gardening Picture Books

Back when I was teaching first grade, I always included time to  introduce  stories into the classroom lessons. To me, books are a way to “cement” a desired concept by way of a vivid mental picture. Children have differennt learning styles, and I found that picture books could help them access higher level concepts. (See more about multiple intelligences in the book Frames of Mind by psychologist Howard Gardener). I also included printed song lyrics and poetry in a three-ring binder that we used for reading, singing and illustrating. My guitar was one of my teaching tools. I occasionally run into now-adult former students who tell me they still have their song binder. Makes my day!

Generally, classroom teachers gather books for the classroom on a seasonal theme such as pumpkins or apples in the Fall. I would check out many themed books from the school library, and also buy just as many from the school book fair, or local shops. I’ve given away many of these upon retiring from the classroom, but there are some I just can’t part with. They touch in me in some way, whether it’s the story, the photographs or the artwork. These are the books I will focus on in this piece and will also give you some resources to enable you to track down these and more books. You can pop into the local bookstore and sit and read a couple of these titles. You may find that your eyes are a little wet, or you may laugh out loud. And that’s ok.

My list could be very long but I’ll just mention a few of my favorites. Note: some of these titles may be out of print-which really irritates me- so become a thrift shopper via used book stores and websites. Stop and smell the lignin! (I checked Better World Books, and online store and they had all these titles. I found videos and PDFs of these books online too.

The Summer My Father Was Ten

by Pat Brisson (heartwarming, with a moral).

The Gardener

by Sarah Stewart and David Small (Depression-era, heartwarming story).

Ox Cart Man

by Donald Hall (a historical lesson in agricultural literacy, i.e. where things come from).


by Paul Fleischman(an imaginative and magical tale of a new land).

The Tiny Seed

(A classic Eric Carle and simple science).

Pancakes Pancakes

(another Eric Carle classic and a nod to agricultural literacy).

Sugarbush Spring

by Marsha Wilson Chall and Jim Daly (beautiful art detailing making maple syrup. In Alaska we use birch.)

Before We Eat

by Pat Brisson and Mary Azarian (a newer book about the way food gets from farm to table).

If you’re shopping for just the right gift foryour child, nieces, nephews and grandchildren, might I suggest some great garden-themed picture books? Books are the gifts that can give pleasure for years to come. And it’s OK for you to enjoy the books too!

More resources:

Growing Good Kids – Excellence in Children’s Literature Book Awards Program

The Junior Master Gardener Program and the American Horticultural Society honor engaging, inspiring works of plant, garden and ecology-themed children’s literature through the “Growing Good Kids – Excellence in Children’s Literature Awards” Program.

The 2022 winners on the JMG website and the previous years are archived there as well.

Here are a couple more of my favorites:

Growing Minds

The Collective School Garden Network

Agriculture in the Classroom

Patrick Ryan is an Alaska Master Gardener and the Education Specialist for the Alaska Botanical Garden. A retired elementary school teacher, Patrick is a member of the Anchorage Community Forest Council and sits on the board for Alaska Agriculture in the Classroom.

7 comments on “Book Look

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  3. Margareta

    Wow that’s actually an amazing collection of books,I am impressed,truly.Also I remember struggling in college with some of my assignments,such bad times,if only I knew about those books earlier…a good friend of mine suggested me this amazing site and after I’ve got to use it all my problems vanished wow.I remember getting rid of all the stress caused by the school and studies,my motivation got up with 200% and i’ve got new ideas,new fresh thoughts on how to make all of my essays better.Altogether my productivity increased massively.I hope it will help you as it helped me !Kudos for sharing

  4. Patrick Ryan

    Let me know if you liked this post and I can make part two. I guarantee you will love these books!

  5. Christine Lemieux

    Loved this article and will definitely search out some of the books for gifts.

  6. Jerelyn Ryan Sehl

    I’m continually impressed by you! Excellent article and suggestions!

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