Time to Plant!

It’s springtime, which means that it’s time to start planting our gardens!

Gardening has too many benefits to count. A wide body of research has shown that interacting with nature has positive effects on kids’ personal development, conservation ethic, and academic achievement (Kuo, Barnes & Jordan, 2019). One study focuses on the finding that the inquiry-based learning inherent in gardening helps preschool-aged children build citizenship skills (Casey, DiCarlo & Sheldon, 2019). Finally, gardens provide tangible and concrete benefits in the form of fresh veggies!

Additionally, spending time in and around a garden also opens kids’ eyes to where food comes from and experimenting with eating different veggies. This may help them adopt and value healthier diets.

All of this certainly makes a strong argument for a library or schoolyard garden. Perhaps the bigger question is “Why not garden?”

If you’ve never tried gardening, you may be intimidated and concerned that all your plants will die. Remember that it’s perfectly fine to start small with gardening in just a few containers that can be moved to protect your plants from rabbits, deer, and other thieves. And fortunately, for most of us, the pressure for our gardens to produce isn’t as high as it may be for those in unique situations.

Gardens also have a way of bringing people together, and that what our featured pairing this time is about. Paul Fleishman’s award-winning Seedfolks is a unique story comprised of fictional vignettes written from the perspectives of 13 city-dwellers of different ages and backgrounds coming together to transform a vacant city lot in Cleveland. This short book is a great fit for the intermediate level (grades 4-8), and is suitable for read-aloud or literature circles. Themes of diversity and community have led many communities to adopt Seedfolks as the focus of a “one book” community reading initiative.

For the informational text pairing, we’ve selected Gardening Lab for Kids: 52 Fun Experiments to Learn, Grow, Harvest, Make, Play, and Enjoy Your Garden by Renata Brown. This practical guide is perfect for librarians/educators with “gardening anxiety,” as it features activities that are simple and straightforward--one for each week of the year!

The active learning strategy we recommend to support this pairing will give your group a chance to try gardening themselves. As a large group (or in small groups), students will choose one of the straightforward activities presented in Gardening Lab for Kids, work on it together, and reflect on the experience afterwards, tying it to themes in Seedfolks.

See you next time. Don’t forget to let us know in the comments below if you explore the books or try the activity--we’d love to know how it goes!


Casey, E.M., DiCarlo, C.F., Sheldon, K.L., (2019). Growing democratic citizenship competencies: Fostering social studies understandings through inquiry learning in the preschool garden. The Journal of Social Studies Research. doi:10.1016/j.jssr.2018.12.001

Kuo, M., Barnes, M., Jordan, C., (2019). Do experiences with nature promote learning? Converging evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship. Frontiers in Psychology, 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00305


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Copyright 2018 © Created by Marilyn P. Arnone.

Dr. Arnone is a proponent of libraries helping to serve their communities with programming about their local environments. She has taught "Environmental Programming with Libraries" and "Literacy, Inquiry and Nature for Libraries" at Syracuse University's School of Information Studies. She is a certified environmental educator in the state of North Carolina.