Photo: Mairi Beautyman
Gardening can be a great way to get your kids to turn off the TV, stow away the PlayStation, and head out doors. Make planting fresh healthy produce a family affair with these five books, each of which is packed with inspiration, activities, planting suggestions, and more tips for kid-friendly planting.
From specific plants to easy upkeep, the information in these guides will have even the youngest member of your family digging in the dirt in no time.
1. 300 Step-by-Step Cooking and Gardening Projects for Kids
Nancy McDougall and Jenny Hendy put together this collection of activities and tips for turning kids from amateur gardeners into full-fledged farm-to-table entrepreneurs.
More than 300 projects and recipes and more than 2,000 photos instruct your kids on everything from making a wormery to serving up a fresh, homemade pizza.
The book also promises to include even the most basic steps -- "safety, equipment, essential techniques, and cooking and gardening terms" plus a glossary of herbs and plants. (300 Step-by-Step Cooking and Gardening Projects for Kids, available September 2011)
2. Gardening with Children
If your kids loved their last field trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, then bring home a little of that bloom with Gardening with Children, a book from the organization that says it's the "oldest continuously operating children's garden in North America."
Projects include milk-container gardens, chlorophyll artwork, and bird feeders, while simple instructions help kids of all ages sprout their own seeds and develop their innate green thumbs, whether they're growing up in rural or urban areas. (Gardening with Children, $10)
3. Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots
Writer and illustration Sharon Lovejoy uses her own watercolor paintings to imagine the 12 different themed garden projects -- for kids and adults -- in Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots.
Along with a "10-Minute Plan" for garden upkeep, which is designed to fit the attention span of even your smallest gardeners, and a list of 20 easy-to-grow plants, Lovejoy includes gardens aimed at grabbing -- and holding -- young attention spans, from growing a "Pizza Patch," which features pie-slice plots of tomatoes and herbs, and a "Moon Garden" full of plants that bloom only after bedtime (it's worth staying up for). (Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots, $14)
4. Gardening Wizardry for Kids
Aimed at the pre-tween set, Gardening Wizardry for Kids offers more than 300 hands-on experiments for kids who are past the preschool projects, including raising earthworms, setting up a windowsill garden, and creating garden-themed crafts.
The book is designed for small-space growers, so you can give your kids a corner of the yard or a sunny windowsill and let them get to work. (Gardening Wizardry for Kids, $17)
Kids who are still too young to spend their afternoon digging in the dirt can still get inspired with Grow!, a board book written for kids ages 4-8.
Bright, moveable tabs let kids maneuver their way through this very simple story about taking care of the planet in your own backyard: hanging a bird feeder, growing their own greens, planting trees.
By the time your baby is old enough to plant, you won't be able to keep him out of the garden. (Grow!, $8)