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School Garden Resources

Here is a bibliography of food literacy books for kids that I put together for Slow Food Seattle: S.F.S. Bibliography by Rick Swann

Here are a few other resources to get started with a school garden:
Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea by Alice Waters is a book that details the history of the gardening and cooking school on the grounds of Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley, CA and the rationale for creating that school garden. The program’s web site ( has supplemental information and material.

How to Grow a School Garden: A Complete Guide for Parents and Teachers by Arden Bucklin-Sporer and Rachel Kathleen Pringle is a wonderful reference book if you are a parent or teacher interested in starting a garden at your school.

City Bountiful by Laura J. Larson gives an overview of community and school gardening in the United States from the 1890’s up to the present. Most of the reasons cited for school gardens 100 years ago are applicable today.

The School Garden Wizard (
was created for America’s K-12 school community through a partnership between the United States Botanic Garden and Chicago Botanic Garden. It covers every step involved in making the case for, creating, using, maintaining, and evaluating a school garden.

The National Gardening Association maintains a web site rich with ideas for gardening with children: This site also maintains a national registry of school gardens as well as sells kits, tools, and books that support a gardening curriculum.

California has emphasized school garden programs for a number of years. The California School Garden Network’s comprehensive web site can be found at:

Life Lab ( is a California-based organization that offers a number of environmental, hands-on science, and garden-based programs. The Growing Classroom – Garden and Nutrition Activity Guide is one of the best garden-based curriculum guides available. Their web site is full of useful ideas on all aspects of school gardening.

Garden Books for Children



Omnivore’s dilemma: the secrets behind what you eat. Young readers ed. Ritchie Chevat and Michael Pollen. Examines the origins of the different food chains that have sustained humans throughout history, discussing how certain foods and cuisines have become a popular part of people’s daily diets. *Grades 5+

To market, to market. Nicki McClure. Illustrations and text follow a mother and her son to their local weekly farmers market, showing how particular foods are grown or produced as they check items off of their shopping list.

Chew on this: everything you don’t want to know about fast food. Eric Schlosser. A look at fast food, what’s in it, how it’s made, and what it does to our bodies. *Grade 5+

Grow it, cook it. DK. Explains how plants grow, looks at the processes of planting and growing different fruits and vegetables, and features instructions for harvesting small crops, and using produce in recipes.

Food for thought: the stories behind the things we eat. Ken Robbins. Photographs and text explain how commonly consumed foods were introduced to the human palate, and provides brief histories on apples, oranges, corn, bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, pomegranates, grapes, and mushrooms.

Reducing your foodprint: farming, cooking, and eating for a healthy planet. Ellen Rodger. A discussion of energy conservation, reviewing the history of cultivation, and looking at how people can develop a more sustainable lifestyle through their eating habits by going organic, eating locally, using fair trade food, and green cooking.

Plants and Gardening

Seeds. Ken Robbins. Describes how seeds grow and discusses shape, size, and dispersal patterns.

From seed to plant. Gail Gibbons. Explores the intricate relationship between seeds and the plants which they produce.

A seed is sleepy. Dianna Hutts Aston. An introduction to seeds; explaining their varying shapes and sizes, where they are found, and their life cycles.

What do roots do? Kathleen Kudlinski. Presents a children’s rhyming text for early readers that describes different kinds of roots and what they do for plants.

A fruit is a suitcase for seeds. Jean Richards. Provides an illustrated description of seed dispersal by which plants, most specifically fruits, travel from one place to another.

How is soil made? Heather Montgomery. Discusses the composition of soil and the different ways that it is made, covering topics such as humus, microbes, nutrient cycles, aeration, burrowers, erosion, and climate.

Blue potatoes, orange tomatoes. Rosalind Creasy. Describes how to plant, grow, and cook a variety of unusually colored vegetables, including red corn, yellow watermelons, and multicolored radishes.

Seed, sprout, pumpkin, pie. Jill Esbaum. Full-color photographs and text follows the life cycle of a pumpkin seed, from germination to flower to a fully developed melon, which are often carved for Halloween decorations or made into pumpkin pie.

Pumpkins. Ken Robbins. Follows the life cycle of the pumpkins that become so ubiquitous as the fall season rolls around.

Gardening by the numbers. Cecilia Minden. Explains how students can put their math skills to work in the garden by creating diagrams to plot a new garden, calculating the amount of soil and water needed, and harvesting produce at the perfect time.

The plants we eat. Christine Petersen. Looks at where food comes from, and describes the edible parts of various plants, including fruits, vegetables, spices, and grains.

Roots, shoots, buckets & boots. Sharon Lovejoy. Presents twelve ideas for theme gardens that parents and their children can grow together.

Sunflower houses: inspiration from the garden. A guide to gardening for and with children, providing information and anecdotes about a variety of plants and garden games and activities.

Ready, set, grow! DK. Features over thirty simple gardening projects with step-by-step photographs show young gardeners how to grow plants from seed, how to propagate plants, when to harvest, and more.

Composting: decomposition. Buffy Silverman. An overview of composting that defines what it is; discusses decomposers, worm farms, and other related topics; and includes a glossary and resources.

Busy in the garden. George Shannon. A collection of short poems and riddles about planting seeds, watching garden vegetables dance, and growing jack-o-lanterns.

Chapter books

Seedfolks. Paul Fleischman. One by one, a number of people of varying ages and backgrounds transform a trash-filled inner-city lot into a productive and beautiful garden, and, in doing so, the gardeners are themselves transformed.

Picture books

Up, Down and Around. Katherine Ayres. From seeds dropping into soil to corn bursting from its stalks, from children chasing butterflies to ants burrowing underground, everything in this vibrant picture book pulses with life — in all directions! Sprightly illustrations set the mood for a rhythmic text that follows nature’s course to a final feast of backyard bounty. 

Curious garden. Peter Brown. Liam discovers a hidden garden and with careful tending spreads color throughout the gray city.

How groundhog’s garden grew. Lynne Cherry. Squirrel teaches Little Groundhog how to plant and tend a vegetable garden.

City green. DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan. Marcy and Miss Rosa start a campaign to clean up an empty lot and turn it into a community garden.

Growing vegetable soup. Lois Ehlert. A father and child grow vegetables and then make them into a soup.

Weslandia. Paul Fleischman. Wesley’s garden produces a crop of huge, strange plants which provide him with clothing, shelter, food, and drink, thus helping him create his own civilization and changing his life.

And then its spring. Julie Fogliano. Simple text reveals the anticipation of a boy who, having planted seeds while everything around is brown, fears that something has gone wrong until, at last, the world turns green.

Yucky worms. Vivian French. While helping Grandma in the garden, a child learns about the important role of the earthworm in helping plants grow.

Bring me some apples and I’ll make you a pie. Robbin Gourley. Edna and members of her family gather fruits, berries, and vegetables on their Virginia farm and turn them into wonderful meals. Includes five recipes and facts about the life of Edna Lewis, a descendant of slaves who grew up to be a famous chef.

Cactus soup. Eric Kimmel. During the Mexican Revolution, when a troop of hungry soldiers comes to a town where all the food has been hidden, they charm the townspeople into helping make a soup from water and a cactus thorn.

The ugly vegetables. Grace Lin. A little girl thinks her mother’s garden is the ugliest in the neighborhood until she discovers that flowers might look and smell pretty but Chinese vegetable soup smells best of all. Includes a recipe.

We planted a tree. Diane Muldrow. Simple text reveals the benefits of planting a single tree, both to those who see it grow and to the world as a whole.

Stone soup. Jon Muth. Three hungry men charm a poor village into making enough soup to feed them all.

A place to grow. Soyung Pak. As a father tells his daughter what a seed needs to flourish, he also explains the reasons he emigrated to a new homeland.

Compost stew: an a to z recipe for the earth. Mary McKenna Siddals. A rhyming recipe explains how to make the dark, crumbly, rich, earth-friendly food called compost.

The gardener. Sarah Stewart. A series of letters relating what happens when, after her father loses his job, Lydia Grace goes to live with her Uncle Jim in the city but takes her love for gardening with her.

Our school garden! Rick Swann. A boy discovers the joy of growing and learning at his new school’s edible garden.

Secrets of the garden: food chains and the food web in our backyard. Kathleen Zoehfeld.

Depicts a family who prepare the soil, plant seeds and wait for vegetables.

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