What's Growing In Your Reading Garden?

09 April 2015 / 4 comments
Hello Friends!

It's Jennifer here from Stories and Songs in Second!  I am honored to be a contributing member of this collaborative blog, and hope you'll stop back often to get a variety of useful, time-saving ideas and tips!  Our group includes 28 teacher-authors with diverse interests and areas of expertise, and our goal is to share what we know works well in our classrooms!

I hope you'll grab your garden gloves, watering can, shovel, and some potting soil, and find time to dig into this collection of some of my favorite read alouds to help promote CTR's April celebration of all things related to plants, poetry, and planning!

Plant life cycles, soil, and insects are just a few of the non-fiction units I am currently planning to help my second graders zing into all things spring-related during April and May. I hope these titles that I've gathered will help you supplement your upcoming lessons as well!

Up In the Garden and Down in the Dirt, written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal, describes everything a young girl and her grandmother encounter as they prepare the ground for planting, nurture what sprouts, observe the animals and insects that visit, and harvest the vegetables they've grown.  It's patterned text alternates between what is going on above the ground and below the soil, and provides a perfect opportunity for young readers to "take turns" telling the story from the two different perspectives.  Your students will love comparing and contrasting what grows and lives above the ground and under the soil in this text full of richly descriptive and rhythmic language.

A Seed is a Promise, written by Claire Merrill and illustrated by Susan Swan, is a colorful book that shares interesting facts about all kinds of seeds--fruit, vegetable, flower--and how they travel and grow.  This is the perfect book to use when launching a Science life cycle lesson about how to create a chart, diagram, or timeline on how a seed grows into a plant.

All Kinds of Flowers, written by Teresa Turner, is full of photographs of  exotic plants from around the world that vary in size, shape, smell, and color. This text is a useful resource for students interested in researching and writing reports about plants that are different than those that grow in the area where they live.

The Surprise Garden, written by Zoe Hall and Shari Halpern, is a wonderful text that can be used to help students make predictions about what will grow from the mystery seeds that the mother in the story gives to her children.  Encouraging young readers to make connections to what they already know about how and what type of plants can be grown for food builds comprehension skills as well. I like to cover the names of the plants with post-its before sharing this story aloud and give my students the opportunity to guess the types of food that have grown.  I also like to ask parent volunteers to contribute the different types of vegetables and fruits featured, so that my group can enjoy a garden harvest party or feast, just like the boys and girls in the story!

If You Plant a Seed, written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, is the newest book in my collection of favorites, and provides a unique and heart-warming animal's perspective on how and why gardens should grow!  A rabbit and a mouse learn life lessons about what it means to share the work the goes into sowing and tending seeds, as well as the importance of showing generosity when other animals ask to eat their bountiful harvest.  This text's simple if-then pattern makes it a perfect mentor text for a cause-and-effect writing lesson.

Soil, by Chris Oxlade, is another great text that includes of glossary of key words, a fact file of the different characteristics, and full-color photographs of how it is formed and used.  I have multiple copies of it and have small groups of students work together to search through and identify features of non-fiction texts such as index, table of contents, titles, and captions.

New Plants, published and distributed by Delta Education for Foss Science, is also good text for helping students understand what seeds and plants need to thrive in different climates.  Desert, rainforest, ponds, and tundras are all habitats featured in this non-fiction resource.

Once I have shared these books, as well as these You Tube video classics like The Carrot Seed  by Ruth Krauss, The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle and Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens,  my students then respond in writing using a variety of task card prompts featured {HERE} in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  

In closing, I'd like to know what your favorite plant-themed read alouds are!  Please leave the title(s) in the comment section below!  I am always looking for new additions to my classroom library!  

Here's a peek at the packs of pansies I hope to plant over the next four days before my spring break ends!  May their cheerful color bring a smile to your face as you continue to carefully tend and nurture the children growing in your classroom garden!


Until next month, may you continue to share your story and keep a song in your heart!



  1. Enjoyed reading your post Jennifer. Sounds like you have so much fun in your classroom!

  2. So many great books here!! Thanks for all the suggestions. Your posts are always inspiring!

  3. Great post, Jennifer! We are lucky enough to have a school garden and my kids absolutely love digging and planting! Thank you for sharing so many great book choices!

  4. I love your reviews of these books. The ideas for the Surprise Garden are fantastic! What fun to have a garden harvest feast! :) My fav books about plants are Tops and Bottoms & A Seed is Sleepy. Thanks for sharing!
    Teacher Treasure Hunter


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