The kind people at Floris Books recently sent me two environmental books for kids to review. The first is How Does My Garden Grow, by Gerda Muller. And the second is The Tomtes of Hilltop Stream by Brenda Tyler.
My daughter is only two. As such, she’s a bit below the recommended age for these books (3+), however we’ve had some good fun reading them nonetheless.
How Does My Garden Grow?
How Does My Garden Grow is her favourite of the two environmental books for kids. And mine too, actually! It’s all about a little girl from the city called Sophie, who goes to stay in the countryside with her grandparents for the summer. At her grandparents she prepares a plot and plants some seeds, helping them to grow. All the while learning all about gardening as she goes.
There’s a lot to this book, covering all the different aspects of preparing the soil, planting, growing, and harvesting. As such, I think three to seven-year-olds would get a lot out of this book. It’s a great way to introduce the idea of gardening and where our vegetables come from and even features an introduction to composting.
The message isn’t entirely lost on my daughter. She has fun pointing out all of the different vegetables, and I’m sure it’s going to be a favourite as she grows older. I also love the retro-style illustrations.
The Tomtes of Hilltop Stream
The Tomtes of Hilltop Stream introduces children to the idea of environmentalism. It tells the story of Emily and Jamie: two children who visit their favourite otter-filled stream to find it polluted, full of rubbish, and devoid of wildlife, including their beloved otters. The Tomtes (little gnomes/elves) appear, helping Emily and Jamie to clean up the river and restore the habitat. The story even touches very briefly on the concept of activism!
The message is great (although my bugbear is there’s no real message of how the rubbish got there). All in all, it would probably be a handy book for teachers to introduce ideas of environmentalism as part of wider readings and activities.
As a fun book for kids to read at home though then I’m not so sure. It might be hard to involve children in the story as it is very linear. All that happens is that they quickly and easily clean up the river, and there is little in terms of the characters or the plot to hold their attention.
What it does do is provide plenty of talking points to expand on the environmental ideas discussed in the book. This means so you can go into as much or as little detail as you like, depending on the age of your children.
What are your favourite environmental books for kids?
Floris Books kindly sent me two books to review. All views, words, and images are my own. See my disclosure policy for more information.