It’s a great time to get out and garden with kids

Published 12:02 am Sunday, April 12, 2015

By Dara L. Cain

Rowan Public Library

Spring has arrived! It’s the perfect time to head outside and start planting flowers and growing vegetables.

Did you know that gardening is not just for adults? Children can plan, create and maintain their own gardens with a little bit of guidance. Give them the opportunity to plant seeds in the soil and watch their reaction as the plants mature.

Below are some great children’s books to set the mood and get your children excited about gardening and the outdoors all while spending time together as a family.

Lois Ehlert has written and illustrated simple and engaging picture books for the preschool age group. Her book, “How to Plant a Rainbow,” is about a mother and child who plant a variety of flowers in the family garden. Ehlert explains to children in a simple way how to plant bulbs, seeds and seedlings as well as how to nurture their growth. The surprise at the end of the story is a beautiful rainbow garden.

Similarly, in Ehlert’s book “Growing Vegetable Soup,” a father and child share the joys of planting, watering and watching seeds grow in their vegetable garden. At the end of the story, the reward for taking care of the garden is enjoying vegetable soup together. Both titles incorporate brightly colored illustrations and include the names of what is being planted as well as the tools used to tend to the garden.

Children will discover dozens of food chains right in their very own backyard after reading “Food Chains and the Food Web in Our backyard: Secrets of the Garden,” by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld.

Alice’s family plants a vegetable garden every year and this naturalist reports all she sees about how the plants grow, what insects arrive to eat the plants and what birds and animals appear to eat the insects in this beautifully illustrated book.

This simple narrative is very engaging and science concepts are introduced in more depth in sidebars by a pair of intelligent and funny chickens. Maybe some kids will be inspired to eat their vegetables after learning about some backyard science in a fun and accessible way.

Creating a garden on a vacant piece of land in no small task for five eager gardeners in the book “A Harvest of Color” by Melanie Eclare. The children each select their own vegetable to grow — carrots, radishes, beans, zucchini or potatoes — and document their progress by keeping a garden diary and taking photographs.

The diary and photographs clearly demonstrate the satisfaction and challenges faced by these aspiring gardeners. There are also some helpful planting hints that the children share for when your kids are ready to get started. At the end of the summer, the children celebrate by having a big cookout and making vegetable soup. Their recipe is included at the back of the book.

“A Backyard Flower Garden for Kids” and “A Backyard Vegetable Garden for Kids” are two books written by Amie Jane Leavitt that are wonderful for first-time gardeners.

Children will learn about where they should grow their flower garden, what they should grow, what flowers attract butterflies and birds, planting time, and what to do if they don’t have space for a garden.

There is also a fun craft on how to decorate a garden belt. If vegetables gardens are more appealing to your children, they’ll learn what vegetables to grow, how to prepare their plot, sowing seeds, harvest time and planting in small spaces. A great hummingbird bath craft is included.

These two books provide simple and well organized step by step instructions and include a helpful glossary.

It can be difficult to find time to plant and take care of a garden, especially with young children at home. The book “Gardening Projects for Kids: 101 Ways to get Kids Outside, Dirty, and Having Fun,” by Whitney Cohen and John Fisher, provides some great ideas on how to involve your children in the gardening process that makes it educational and exciting.

Whether it be playing leapfrog over pumpkins, harvesting a six-plant part burrito, cooking up a compost cake, weaving lavender wands or pickling pears, this book is sure to have a fun activity your child will enjoy.

Gardening can be a fun activity. There are so many benefits to this activity, including science exploration, working hard and harvesting the benefits, and most importantly, spending time with your family.

Don’t forget, all of the titles are available to borrow at Rowan Public Library.

Computer classes: If you’re new to computers or never felt comfortable, Computer Basics is for you. Classes are free. Sessions: 90 minutes. Class size limited and on a first come, first served basis. Dates and times subject to change without notice. Call 704-216-8242 for more information. Headquarters, April 7, 7 p.m. and April 23, 9:30 a.m.

Headquarters, Getting to Know Your iPad, April 21,  7 p.m. Registration required. Discussion of components, navigation and use of apps. Must bring own iPad, charged, and have an updated iOS (operating system). Bring current, valid Apple ID. For more info or to register, call Paul Birkhead at 704-216-8242.

Teen Anime Club: Headquarters, April 14, 4:30 p.m. Free and open to middle- and high-school teens interested in anime, manga and comic books. Meets in the Hurley Room. New members are always welcome. Call 704-216-8229 for more information.

Explorer Club: Headquarters, April 25, 11 a.m. Investigate different genres through activities based on books from the collection. Programs for children in third-fifth grade last one hour. This month’s theme will be “Every Hero has a Story-Life Before the Avengers!” Be part of the prequel to Summer Reading and jump-start your imagination with heroes from around the world. Come dressed as a superhero you create or your own personal favorite. For more information call 704-216-8234.

Smart Pedaling workshop: South branch, China Grove, April 27, 5:45 p.m. Visit different stations set up by local experts to understand bicycle types, basic fitting, rules of the road, quick maintenance, bike-friendly trails and road routes and more. Led by David Freeze and Skinny Wheels. Part of the 2015 Learn.Act.Grow.Series. Register online or call 704-216-7734 to ensure your spot.

Teen Poetry Slam: Headquarters, April 28, 5:30-7 p.m. April is National Poetry Month and the library invites teens to submit and perform their favorites for a chance to win special prizes.All middle and high school students are eligible. Rules and entry information available online or at any library location or call 704-216-8229.

Book Bites Club: April 28, 6:30 p.m., “Falling Together, by Marisa de los Santos. Book discussion groups for adults and children at South Rowan Regional Library meet the last Tuesday of each month. Open and anyone is free to join at any time. There is a discussion of the book, as well as light refreshments. For more information, call 704-216-7734.

Displays: Headquarters, 411; South, stained glass by Betty Corriher and Sandra Collins; East, Kim Davis.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second  language.

Children’s Storytime: Weekly events for children through April 30. For more information call 704-216-8234.

Baby Time — Simple stories and songs for 6-23 month-olds with parent or caregiver. Program about one hour. Headquarters, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.; East, Mondays,  10 a.m.

Toddler Time — Sharing books, singing songs and encouraging listening skills; 18-35 months old with parent or caregiver; 30 minutes. Headquarters, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Mondays, 11 a.m.

Tiny Tumblers — Stories, musical scarves and instruments for ages 6-23 months with parent or caregiver. Same program offered twice a week;  30 minutes. South, Tuesday and Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.

Preschool time — Encourages exploration of books and builds reading readiness skills for children 3-5 years old with parent or caregiver; 30 minutes. Headquarters, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Noodle Head storytime — For children 4 years and up to enjoy listening to silly books and tales together; 30 minutes. Headquarters, Thursdays, 4 p.m.; South, Mondays, 4 p.m.

Art programs — Activities vary by branch.  Children 8 and under must be accompanied by an adult.; 30-45 minutes. Headquarters, Art in the Afternoon, Thursdays, 4:30 p.m.; East, Emma’s Easel, Thursdays, 4 p.m.; South, Art with Char, Wednesdays, 4 p.m.