We celebrated Friday's Earth Day all week long in the library. Here are my favorite read-alouds for elementary school. The theme of the week: The Power of a Garden!
(PreK 3 - Grade 1)
When a girl begins to imagine her perfect garden, the result is every child's fantasy: jellybean bushes, chocolate bunnnies, flowers that change color and never die, and best of all - no weeds! Henkes' bold watercolors in pastel tones draw us further into the girl's magical world.
This makes a wonderful introduction to a writing prompt for grade 1.
Flower Garden, by Eve Bunting
(PreK 3 - Kindergarten)
Simple rhyming text and rich oil illustrations lead us through the story of a girl and her father who plan and create a window box. We follow them as they buy the plants, take them home on the bus, walk up to their city apartment, and we get to be there for the big surprise: the window box is a birthday gift for mother!
This makes a good discussion starter about thoughtful gift-giving.
The Curious Garden, by Peter Brown
(Kindergarten - Grade 5)
Can a garden be curious? Well, yes, all of nature is curious and wants to extend as far as it can. It's our need for roads, sidewalks, and buildings that keeps nature at bay. But what would happen if we let nature explore as much as it wanted? With some thoughtful pruning and care, imagine the possibilities! That's what main character Liam shows us in this fun and unusual picture book. Older students will enjoy hearing the letter from the author linking the idea for this picture book to the old Highline railway in New York City, now overgrown.
On Meadowview Street, by Henry Cole
(Grades 1 - 5)
A young girl moves to a new house on Meadowview street, but there's no meadow there! The first day her dad mows the lawn, she notices a single flower and cords it off so he won't cut it down. Gradually, her "nature preserve" gets larger and larger until her yard is a paradise for all manner of birds, bugs, and blooms. A winner for Earth Day, and a great way to spark discussion about how we can bring nature into our lives.
A Child's Garden: A Story of Hope, by Michael Foreman
(Grades 3 - 5)
A young boy in a war-torn country finds and cultivates a young grapevine. As the grapevine grows and provides beauty and shade, others are drawn to it. But when the vine climbs over the barbed-wire fence into enemy territory, soldiers destroy it and the boy's sense of hope all in one blow. Then one day, the vine begins to grow again, slowly from both sides at once, and it grows until the ends meet and entwine to cover the fence completely. The boy's hope is restored; he knows now that "roots are deep and seeds spread."