As noted in previous posts, I love using children’s books in therapy whenever I can. With the change of season, I pulled from my shelf a selection of books that inspire, broaden one’s perspective, and lend themselves to a variety of lessons. Click on each title to see more information about the books. I hope you and your students enjoy them!
THE CURIOUS GARDEN by Peter Brown is a lovely story about a young boy who discovers a struggling patch of wildflowers on an abandoned rail line in a drab, industrial city. With hard work and patience, he cultivates a garden that takes on a life of its own, as it expands and covers the city with color. Use the story for vocabulary development and for discussions about how one person can make a difference. Relate this story to the recently transformed Highline park in Manhattan, which inspired this book.
Another urban garden story is WANDA’S ROSES by Pat Brisson. In this story, a young girl named Wanda sets out to clean up a blighted lot in her city when she discovers what she thinks is a bare, thorny rosebush. After researching roses, she tells various neighbors about her plan to save the rosebush. They, in turn, pitch in to help her clean up the lot, even though they were skeptical that the bush was in fact a rosebush. I don’t want to give away the ending, but suffice it to say, I follow up this book with a following directions lesson in making paper flowers.
THE GARDENER by Sarah Stewart is an urban garden story of a very different type. For one thing, the story set back in 1935. For another, the story is told through a series of short letters from a young country girl visiting her dour uncle in the big city to her family back home. In an attempt to get him to smile, she begins to plant flowers and vegetables to create a secret happy place. As in the stories mentioned above, the garden flourishes and transforms the people as well as the place where it grows. Follow up with an activity that involves writing letters to tell a story.
I love the humor in DIARY OF A WORM by Doreen Cronin. This clever story is told though diary entries throughout one spring and summer, and is filled with delightful drawings and funny thoughts and experiences of a worm and the other critters who live in his world. This story lends itself to imaginative discussions and creative writing about the life of other creatures, and can also encourage students to keep their own diary. The same author also wrote DIARY OF A SPIDER and DIARY OF A FLY.
MY GREEN HOUSE by Alynn Snyder introduces the reader to the sights, sounds, flora and fauna of the various levels of a rain forest, and stresses the importance of saving this precious ecosystem. On a beautiful spring day, take the students outside to closely observe, talk, and write about the nature around them — ideal for using nouns, synonyms, and adjectives.