Miguel’s Community Garden, written by JaNay Brown-Wood and illustrated by Samara Hardy, is a beautiful, interactive story. The author guides readers to help Miguel find his sunflowers by comparing plant characteristics, such as leaf shape and petal color, which are illustrated in plenty of detail to allow readers to investigate the garden. The diverse cast of characters shows that everyone is welcome at the community garden. The colorful, detailed illustrations will keep kids’ attention while the story guides parents to discuss the different plants they see from spinach to mushrooms. You don’t need to be a plant expert to help Miguel find his sunflowers in time for the garden party!
The Reason for a Flower: A Book About Flowers, Pollen, and Seeds, written and illustrated by Ruth Heller, explains the process of pollination in fanciful verse. Read these two books together with your 6-9 year old child to show how pollination produces many of the foods present in Miguel’s Community Garden.
Explore your own kitchen to find foods that are the result of pollination such as tomatoes, apples or rice. If you have a garden or can visit one, go looking for pollinators like bees and butterflies, and see if you can watch them at work. Make note of which flowers they visit. Then come back in a few weeks to see if a fruit is growing from the pollinated flowers.
Exploring the natural world with your child can be as simple as looking for insects outside your front door. At the Environmental Learning Center, we emphasize that any time spent outdoors is valuable. Kids don’t need a grand adventure to the wilderness; they just need to explore in their neighborhood with a caring adult.
Kristen Wilkinson is the Program Director for the Colorado State University Environmental Learning Center, an environmental education outreach center in Northern Colorado for children and adults.