Dig In and Garden!

With the sun shining (for now at least) and school winding down for the year, so many families are searching for fun outdoor activities. Whether you’re looking for insight and inspiration for gardening all ages can enjoy or just want to soak in some stories that take place outside, there are lots of options for great gardening reads!


The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
When Liam finds a patch of plants growing in his gray, greenless city, he knows that it is up to him to help it grow! The plants are patient as he learns how to take care of them and before he knows it, he’s got a full-grown garden on his hands and this garden wants to see more of the world than the train tracks it’s growing on. Watch what happens when the garden begins to explore in the bright, whimsical pictures of this great, gardening book.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner
While a girl and her grandmother work diligently up in the garden from winter through spring and summer to fall, insects do the same beneath the surface. Readers learn, in gentle, poetic text about the different ways in which bugs and other creatures contribute, just as much as humans, to making a beautiful garden grow. At the end of the book, readers will find an “About the Animals” section, which includes three pages of detailed descriptions of the animals and insects mentioned throughout the book, as well as how they contribute to helping a garden grow.

The Battle of the Vegetables by Matthieu Sylvander
A garden full of leeks meets one of Santa’s reindeer, sort of. Carrots make a great escape, kind of. A carrot and a leek fall madly in love, but will their parents ever approve? This collection of three stories, taking place in one garden is filled with laughs as carrots, leeks, and even potatoes come to life. With cartoon-style pictures as well as rabbits and a cow adding their two cents, this book makes you wonder just what’s going on in your very own garden.

Messy Bessey’s Garden by Patricia & Frederick McKissack
With simple phrases and ear-catching, rhyming text – this quick book is great for sharing with beginning readers. Follow along as Messy Bessey learns all about planting a garden and the care it takes to keep it keep it growing.

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
Roses and daffodils and poppies – oh my! Beloved children’s author, Lois Ehlert, introduces young readers to all types of flowers in a picture book showing how plants grow from bulb to bloom. With simple text, bright illustrations, and a chance to explore colors, this classic children’s book has a lot to offer aspiring gardeners.

Counting in the Garden by Emily Hruby
Strawberries, snails, even accidental thistles – everything growing in the garden gets counted in this book for young gardeners working on their numbers. After every new item in the garden is counted, readers watch them get added to an ever-growing picture of the garden itself. By the time readers reach the end, the garden is bursting with colorful life.

Ready Set Grow! by Deborah Lock
Ready to dive in and do some growing of your own? This book is packed with planting projects for even the youngest gardeners. Tips to get your garden growing? Check. A variety of creative containers to hold your plants? Check. Ready to cook up what you’ve created? There’s recipes too! Detailed photos, helpful tips, and simple instructions make each of the assorted activities easy to follow.

Grow your own garden in an empty soda bottle!  Create a group of garden buddies and watch their green manes grow; instructions courtesy of Beautiful Home and Garden DIY.

Soda Bottle Planter


Book Weekend – Old But New Again

dead The Dead Bird, by Margaret Wise Brown.

In the last 1950’s, the classic picture book author Margaret Wise Brown wrote a gentle tender story about a 4 children saying good bye to the dead bird they had just met.

Over half a century later, a new artist, Christian Robinson, has reimagined this tale of ritual and renewal.    Bright colorful brushstrokes and geometric shapes give the artwork a retro mid-century feel that’s fitting to the author’s era.  Yet the diverse cast of children playing in a city park with their dog feel at home with 21st century readers.  This power of Robinson’s art lies also in shifts in perspective, from away in the tree branches, to up-close to the children’s faces.  The most powerful scenes only use patterns give the readers room to process this weighty story.

Ride a Bike!

Spring is turning to summer. It is the perfect time of year to get outside and ride a bike! But first, enjoy a book about bikes!


The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett
This wordless book tells the story of a girl who falls in love with a bike in a store window. She checks her piggy bank, but does not have enough money. The story follows the girl as she tries to earn enough money before someone else buys the bike.

Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle by Chris Raschka
Learning to ride a bike takes a lot of practice! A father helps his daughter learn to ride a bike in this book with simple words. The messy watercolor illustrations show the girl’s struggle and success.

The Bear’s Bicycle by Emilie Warren McLeod
The young boy who narrates this story is careful when riding his bike. He is aware of his surroundings and is careful about his actions. But the bear, unmentioned in the text, does all the wrong things. This book is a fun way to teach children about bicycle safety.

Duck on a Bike by David Shannon
When Duck decides to try riding a bike, he rides around the farm showing off to all the other animals. Bright illustrations capture each animal’s reaction to the silly sight.

The Red Bicycle by Isabella Jude
When Leo outgrows his bicycle, he decides to donate it so someone else can use it and care for it as he did. This picture book for middle-grade readers follows the bike through its many uses and owners.

From Steel to Bicycle by Robin Nelson
Learn how a bicycle is made! This book explains and illustrates every step from start to finish. The nonfiction book for beginning readers includes a table of contents, a glossary, and an index.

Bicycle Book by Gail Gibbons
This nonfiction book about bicycles contains a lot of basic information on the subject, including an explanation of what the word bicycle means, a brief history of bicycles, and safety rules. The watercolor pictures make the book (and information) approachable.

Now that you’ve read about bicycles, you can make your own bicycle toy!  Instructions courtesy of Doodles and Jots.


Book Weekend – New Board Books

CountingAppleTwo new board books invite toddlers and pre-schoolers to learn through touch.

Counting by DK is part of a new Braille series.  Textured inserts are not a new thing in board books.  But this book pairs it with Braille text. Not that the little ones will understand the raised bumps.  But older siblings might be intrigued by this tactile reading system.  The simple shapes for counting stand out in different textures.  And for parents who rely on Braille, this book opens a window into a shared early literacy experience.

A is for Apple is a very standard board book with flat pictures of images that starts with each sound.  But the large letters are embedded into the double thick pages.  Arrows show the young reader which direction to move the finders, mimicking the movements for writing.  Engaging multiple senses deepens a child’s learning experience.  Adult and child will slow down and savor this deceptively simple book.

Play Date Theater Presents Fairytale Review

Bring the whole family for Play Date Theater’s Fairytale Review presented by Edie’s Fairytale Theatre on May 21 from 2 – 3 p.m. in Central Library’s Auditorium.


Fairytale Review combines all the best fairytale characters for a fun romp in the woods. Audience participation is encouraged.

Edie’s Fairytale Theatre (formerly Piwacket Theatre) has been a perennial favorite of Play Date Theater audiences. Their original adaptations of musical fairytales engage, enchant and excite young children. A perfect way to introduce children, ages 2 to 10 to theater while allowing them to use their imaginations, explore their creativity and nurture a thirst for learning.