Sunday, April 29, 2007

Children’s Poetry for National Garden Month

It’s spring time and April is also “National Garden Month.” Finding poetry for children on the topic of gardens is one way to celebrate the outdoors and help kids re-connect with the earth, plants, and growing things. Here are a handful of poetry books on the topic.

*Alarcon, Francisco X. 1997. Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems/Jitomates Risuenos y Otros Poemas de Primavera. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press.
*Bruchac, Joseph. 1995. The Earth Under Sky Bear's Feet: Native American Poems of the Land. New York: Philomel Books.
*Brenner, Barbara. 1994. The Earth is Painted Green: A Garden of Poems about Our Planet. New York: Scholastic.
*Florian, Douglas. 2006. Handsprings. New York: Greenwillow.
*Havill, Juanita. 2006. I Heard It from Alice Zucchini: Poems About the Garden. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.
*Nicholls, Judith. 2003. The Sun in Me: Poems About the Planet. Barefoot Books.
*Shannon, George. 2006. Busy in the Garden. New York: Greenwillow.
*Wong, Janet. 2000. Night Garden: Poems from the World of Dreams. New York: Margaret K. McElderry (for a fun twist!).
*Yolen, Jane. 2000. Color Me a Rhyme: Nature Poems for Young People. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.

And of course sharing garden poetry provides an invitation to children to DO some planting. As a classroom teacher, I found that planting seeds and seedlings and taking care of them was so rewarding for children. They enjoyed the physicality, as well as the responsibility, of the experience. Some schools even have garden plots for children to tend (and beautify the campus). Invite children to try out their green thumbs. Here’s a poem that does just that. Children can echo the lines or chant along.

Dig In
by George Shannon

Dig a little.
Dig a lot.
Dig a brand-new garden spot.

Plat a little.
Plant a lot.
Plant the seeds and bulbs you bought.

Wait a little.
Wait a lot.
Wait much longer than you thought.

Pick a little.
Pick a lot.
Share the best bouquet you’ve got!

From: Shannon, George. 2006. Busy in the Garden. New York: Greenwillow, p. 10

Match up garden poetry with many of Lois Ehlert’s wonderful graphic and rhyming picture books, including Growing Vegetable Soup (Harcourt Brace, 1987) and Planting a Rainbow (Harcourt Brace, 1988).

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