By Kitty Felde
It’s that time of year when we can almost feel spring in the air. Almost. It’s the time of year when many of us plan our gardens.
One of the neighborhood kids is crazy about plants. Nothing gets him more excited than a packet of green bean seeds or a cutting from the coleus plant or the last tomatoes from my garden. But the thing he loves most: seed catalogs.
Which brings me to reading.
Reading is reading. Whether it’s the entire Harry Potter series or graphic novels or even the instruction manual that came with the new vacuum.
Or seed catalogs.
In addition to the gorgeous pictures, there’s a lot to read in a seed catalog: information about where to plant, when to plant, which variety attracts butterflies, which will grow taller than you.
The best part: most of them are free.
There are dozens of free seed and plant catalogs available. Some catalogs are only available digitally. But most companies are happy to mail an old fashioned paper catalog directly to your child.
Some of the vocabulary is challenging (propagation, perennial, phlox…) But look at it as an opportunity to read together and practice using a dictionary.
Other ways to bring literacy into the garden:
- Create an alphabet garden, choosing plants from A-Z. Or just spell out the first name of your child in plants. Or if you’re a much better gardener than me, shape the garden beds in letters.
- Invite your kids to label all the plants in your garden. Look up the names, get a stack of tongue depressors or popsicle sticks, and write the names with a Sharpie.
- Visit a used book sale or your local indie bookstore and park yourself in the gardening section.
- D.C., Virginia, and Maryland all have a native plant society. Sign up for their newsletter.
Look at it this way: a garden is an opportunity not only to grow a salad; it’s also a way to grow a reader.
Kitty Felde hosts the free Book Club for Kids podcast where a trio of readers discuss a novel, interview the author, and hear a reading by a celebrity. She’s booking episode tapings for 2023 now. www.bookclubforkids.org