Growing Good Kids Book Awards

Growing Good Kids – Excellence in Children’s Literature Book Awards Program


The Junior Master Gardener Program and the American Horticultural Society honor engaging, inspiring works of plant, garden and ecology-themed children’s literature through the “Growing Good Kids – Excellence in Children’s Literature Awards” Program.

The 2024 Growing Good Kids – Excellence in Children’s Literature Awards were recently announced at the 2024 National Children & Youth Gardening Symposium in Chicago, IL.

And this year’s winners are…

Every Little Seed

By Cynthia Schumerth
illustrated by Elisa Paganelli


Grandpa told Mom, and Mom told me: The secret of a plant lives in every little seed. Seeds are truly amazing! Did you know that every seed, no matter how small (microscopic) or large (weighing up to 14 pounds), contains everything it needs to one day grow into a plant? Three generations of a gardening family work together to bring a backyard garden to full bloom. Young readers are taken through each important step, beginning with planting in the spring and ending with harvesting in the fall. And let’s not forget the buzzy and buggy inhabitants, including bees, butterflies, and other insects (friends as well as pests). At the end of the harvest season, the family collects and stores the seeds for next year’s garden

Hello, Trees

By Bailey Bezuidenhout
Illustrated by Maria Lebedeva


In this lyrical, poetic story about trees (and so much more), a little girl wanders through a forest and asks questions of the trees. She runs her hands along their trunks: the lines in the bark are so different from her own skin, yet somewhat familiar. What must it feel like, when they lose their leaves? Like trees, we are a culmination of our memories, and of our future

Home Is Calling

By Katherine Pryor
illustrated by Ellie Peterson


As the sun rises in Canada, a flutter of monarch butterflies take flight, ready to begin their months-long journey to their ancestral home in Mexico. The migration will not be easy, but it is necessary for the next generation of monarchs to be born. Brought to life with illustrations as vivid as the monarch’s iconic orange and black hues, this story invites young readers to experience the monarch’s migration from the butterflies’ point of view as they search for food, huddle together through storms, and tirelessly fly south. Back matter provides additional information about monarch butterflies and simple ways children can help the

Beatrice and Barb

By Kate Jink Landry
illustrated by Vivian Mineker


In this heartfelt story of friendship, a young girl is determined to save her most unlikely pet.
Beatrice desperately wants a pet. Her mom has other ideas. No dog. No cat. No hedgehog. They finally reach a compromise, and Beatrice gets … a Venus flytrap named Barb. Being a good pet owner, Beatrice makes the best of things. She takes Barb for walks and plays fetch. Only, now, despite all the love and care, Barb is starting to look sick. Beatrice knows she has to save Barb. But how?
A kid-perfect model of being there for friends — no matter who (or what!) they are!

The Pie that Molly Grew

By Sue Heavenrich
illustrated by Maria Chasmisa Kellogg


With the planting of a single seed, the journey of bringing a pumpkin to harvest comes to life for young readers. Under Molly’s watchful eye and care, each stage of growth–from the seed to the sprout to the leaves to the final fruit on the vine–is showcased. And at the end, Molly’s lovely pumpkin is turned into a delicious pie for one and all to share in a celebration of gratitude. All from the seed that Molly sowed. Back matter includes fun facts about pumpkins, the important pollinators who help them grow, as well as a pumpkin pie recipe

Previous Growing Good Kids Award Winning Titles:

2023 Winners:

The 2023 Growing Good Kids Excellence in Children’s Literature Award Winners were announced at the National Children & Youth Garden Symposium in Knoxville, TN

Rooftop Garden

By Danna Smith
illustrated by Pati Aguilera


A group of city friends work diligently together to grow herbs and vegetables in a rooftop garden. Set to a foot-tappin’ original tune, this rhythmic, rhyming story will have kids singing enthusiastically about the six stages of plant growth. The story concludes with a summer harvest and feast that celebrates the gardeners’ commitment.”

I Love Strawberries!

By Shannon Anderson
illustrated by Jaclyn Sinquett


Through Jolie’s comical scrapbook-style journal entries, young readers will learn how she convinces the “old people” (aka her parents) to let her grow her own strawberries. Growing strawberries is a lot of work and responsibility, but Jolie is ready with the help of her faithful rabbit Munchy! Together they find out just how delicious, rewarding, and sometimes complicated it can be to grow your own food.

Sun in My Tummy

By Laura Alary
Illustrated by Andrea Blinick


In a simple but expressive free verse, a mother describes to her young daughter how the sun’s light becomes the energy in her body through the oats, blueberries, and milk in her home-cooked breakfast. Includes an Author’s Note with more age-appropriate detail about photosynthesis.

The Garden Next Door

By Collin Pine
illustrated by Tiffany Everett


Bored and hot on a lazy summer day, three young children watch as birds, bees, and butterflies zoom past them, over their fence, and into their neighbor’s mysterious yard. But why are there no birds or bugs in their yard? Why does the neighbor’s yard glow with fireflies at night, while their yard is dark? Well, the kids are determined to find out…and maybe make some changes to bring a little nature to their backyard.

Maybe You Might

By Imogen Foxell
illustrated by Anna Cunha


A young girl makes a choice to plant a seed by a long dead riverbed. Little does she know that from this single, small act, a vibrant ecosystem will grow … This inspiring poem — bursting with hope for a greener world — is a love letter to our ailing planet. It shows us that even when the future appears most bleak, each one of us can make a difference.”

2022 Winners:

The 2022 Growing Good Kids Excellence in Children’s Literature Award Winners were announced at the National Children & Youth Garden Symposium in Richmond, Virginia

Little Dandelion Seeds the World

By Julia Richardson
Illustrated by Kristen & Kevin Howdeshell


Did you know dandelions thrive on all seven continents? The cheery blooms are among the most resilient and adaptable in the world. In this lyrical book, learn how the crafty plant travels on the wind and hitches rides in all manner of ways in order to spread far and wide. Includes a map and backmatter on dandelions.

Let’s Pop, Pop, Popcorn!

By Cynthia Schumerth
illustrated by Mary Reaves Uhles


Told through exuberant rhyme, a group of children shows the step-by-step process of how America’s favorite snack comes about. Beginning with the planting of seeds, the cycle moves through the caretaking of the plant (watering and weeding), all the way to its harvest. Finally, it’s time to shuck, then pop the kernels, and enjoy the finished product!

The Wall and the Wild

By Christina Dendy
Katie Rewse


In a plot of land at the edge of town, Ana grows only perfectly sized plants and perfect-looking flowers; she throws all the irregular shoots and uneven seeds over the wall into the disorderly Wild. But as her garden gets tidier, neater and more constrained, the Wild begins to grow…

Saguaro’s Gifts

By Kurt Cyrus
illustrated by Andy Atkins


Celebrating a birthday is always a happy occasion but never more so in this desert community then when it’s a centenary for a grand Saguaro cactus! For one hundred years, the majestic cactus has anchored this vibrant neighborhood, providing food, shelter, and shade to the local wildlife inhabitants. In beautiful rhyming text, the creatures that depend on Saguaro’s gifts come to pay homage, including the tiny bat that sips nectar from the plant’s flower, the finches looking for a place to build their nest, and the grateful tortoise that enjoys its fruit. Magnificent artwork brings the desert landscape and creatures to life, showing the interdependence between plants and animals

ANNOUNCING:  The 2021 Growing Good Kids Award Winners

The 2021 Growing Good Kids Excellence in Children’s Literature Award Winners were announced at the Virtual National Children & Youth Garden Symposium on July 8, 2021.

One Little Lot: The 1-2-3s of an Urban Garden

By Diane C. Mullen
Illustrated by Oriol Vidal


Count all the ways (one to ten) an urban community unites to clean up an abandoned lot. From building planter boxes to pulling weeds to planting seeds, everyone works together to transform the lot into a bountiful vegetable garden. As the garden grows, strangers become friends, eventually sharing in a special feast with the harvest they grew.

Mae the Mayfly

By Denise Brennan-Nelson
illustrated by Florence Weiser


One warm spring day near a riverbank, Mae the mayfly hatches. Since most mayflies live just a single day, Mae’s mother tells her that Mae needs to make the most of the time she does have. But what can one possibly achieve in a single day? 

As it turns out, Mae discovers that there’s a lot one can do, from noticing and appreciating the simple, beautiful moments nature offers to overcoming fears and lending a hand to someone in need.

Butterflies Belong Here 

By Deborah Hopkinson
illustrated by Meilo So


A girl who loves butterflies learns about their habitat loss and wants to help… setting in motion a movement at her school that starts with one Monarch butterfly station, which then grows into an outdoor classroom, and a vegetable garden that gets her entire community involved. This moving story of community conservation proves that even the smallest of us are capable of amazing transformations.

The Virtual 2020 Growing Good Kids Book Awards premiered June 9 on the @JMGkids YouTube.

Jump to JMGKids YouTube by clicking here to view & share awards announcement video for your chance to win a complete set of this year’s winners! (Hint… You must share announcement video by July 17 with #GrowingGoodKids to be eligible to win.)

2020 Winners:

The 2020 Growing Good Kids Excellence in Children’s Literature Award Winners were announced at the Virtual National Children & Youth Garden Symposium on July 9, 2020.

We Are the Gardeners

By Joanna Gaines
Illustrated by Julianna Swaney
(Publisher: Tommy Nelson)


Joanna Gaines and the kids chronicle the adventures of starting their own family garden. From their failed endeavors, obstacles to overcome (bunnies that eat everything), and all of the knowledge they gain along the way, the Gaines family shares how they learned to grow a happy, successful garden.

The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter

Written & illustrated by Shabazz Larkin


“In THE THING ABOUT BEES: A LOVE LETTER, author/illustrator Shabazz Larkin spins a buoyant monologue to his young sons about why bees are so important and how they are analogous to rambunctious children; the narrative is threaded with unconditional love for both subjects. Hand lettering, bold coloring, and textural, mixed-media artwork add energy while evocative language makes for a spirited and joy-filled read-aloud.”

Right This Very Minute

By Lisl H. Detlefsen
Ilustrated by Renee Kurilla
(Feeding Minds Press)
What’s that you say? You’re hungry? Right this very minute? Then you need a farmer. You have the stories of so many right here on your table! This delicious celebration of food and farming is sure to inspire readers of all ages to learn more about where their food comes from – right this very minute!

Badger’s Perfect Garden

by Marcia Diane Arnold
Illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki
(Sleeping Bear Press)


It’s springtime and Badger is ready to plant the perfect garden. He has spent months gathering and sorting seeds. It’s been a lot of work but it’s worth it. His friends Red Squirrel, Dormouse, and Weasel come to help. They weed. They rake. And finally they plant. Afterward, everyone celebrates, and Badger can already imagine the perfect rows of flowers and vegetables. But then a rainstorm comes and washes away the beautiful seeds. Badger’s perfect garden is ruined. Or is it? This story will encourage young readers to think beyond plans and expectations and imagine the wonderful possibilities that may occur when life and nature have other ideas.

2019 Winners:

The 2019 Growing Good Kids Excellence in Children’s Literature Award Winners were announced at the National Children & Youth Garden Symposium on July 12, 2019 at University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Up in the Leaves

By Shira Boss
Illustrated by Jamey Christoph (Sterling Children’s Books)


“Bob lived in the big city. The city was very crowded.”

This charming picture book tells the true story of Bob Redman, a child growing up in New York City. Tired of the noise, the people, and the rushing around, Bob took shelter in the natural beauty of Central Park – where he covertly built a series of amazing treehouses, starting with a simple platform and growing more and more elaborate over time. He plated cat-and-mouse with the park workers, who kept tearing down his houses, until he was finally caught. But, his story ends with a happy surprise…

Seed School

By Joan Holub
Illustrated by Sakshi Mangal (Seagrass Press)


Welcome to the wondrous world of seeds! Just like people, seeds come in all shapes and sizes. In Seed School by Joan Holub, you’ll meet the charming cast of characters who–with the help of soil, water, and sunshine–grow into vibrant fruits, vegetables, and flowers.

While some of the seeds friends seem to sprout and grow up in just one season, one odd-looking seed with a cap takes many years to become to strong oak he was destined to be. Sakshi Mangal’s delightful illustrations bring this whimsical store about friendship, diversity, and the natural world that surrounds us to life.

Grow on!

Errol’s Garden  

By Gillian Hibbs 
Illustrated by Gillian Hibbs (Child’s Play)
Errol loves gardening, but he doesn’t have a proper garden. Although his home is full of beautiful plants, he longs for an outdoor space where he can grow things. A chance discovery leads to a solution, but Errol can’t do everything on his own. Luckily, help is near at hand. A heart-warming and inclusive tale about how one small boy’s dream of a garden unites a diverse community in a positive and enriching experience for everyone. 


2018 Winners:

The 2018 Growing Good Kids Excellence in Children’s Literature Award Winners were announced at the National Children & Youth Garden Symposium on July 13, 2018 at Cornell University.

What Will Grow?

By Jennifer Ward
Illustrated by Susie Ghahremani


Seeds can be big or small, round or pointy, and all sorts of colors. They can become flowers, trees, fruits, or vegetables, and they sprout all times of year, during spring, summer, fall, and winter.

But all seeds have one thing in common–inside each is a new plant life waiting to emerge. What kind of plant will bloom? Wait and see what will grow!

Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmer’s Market

By Michelle Schaub
Illustrated by Amy Huntington


It’s market day. Hooray, hooray!

This collection of poems takes young readers to a day at an urban farmers’ market. Who to see, what to eat, and how produce is grown–it’s all so exciting, fresh, and delicious. Readers are invited to peruse the stands and inspect vendors’ wares with poems like “Farmer Greg’s Free-Range Eggs,” “Summer Checklist,” and “Necessary Mess.” Bright and vibrant, this is the perfect guide for little ones to take with them on marketing day to inspire literacy and healthy eating.


By Deborah Diesen
Illustrated by Mary Lundquist

This lushly illustrated story from our first book being recognized celebrates life and growing up, a mother and daughter plant a garden to see how something small blooms into something as beautiful and strong as their love.


Karl, Get Out of the Garden!

By Anita Sanchez
Illustrated by Catherine Stock


It’s market day. Hooray, hooray!

Karl Linnaeus was a curious child who loved exploring the garden. Despite his intelligence–and his mother’s scoldings–he was a poor student, preferring to be outdoors with his beloved plants and bugs. As he grew up, Karl’s love of nature led him to take on a seemingly impossible task: to give a scientific name to every living thing on earth. The result was the Linnaean system–the basis for the classification system used by biologists around the world today. Backyard sciences are brought to life in beautiful color.

Blue Corn Soup 

By Caroline Stutson
Illustrated by Teri Weidner

As snow begins to fall in the canyon, Mouse knows just what will keep her warm–blue corn soup. As the soup starts simmering, her neighbors catch the scent and hope to share. There isn’t nearly enough blue corn soup for everyone, but Mouse has an idea that will keep them all toasty, their bellies full, and will make friends out of neighbors


2017 Winners:

The 2017 Growing Good Kids Excellence in Children’s Literature Award Winners were announced at the National Children & Youth Garden Symposium on July 13, 2017 in Vancouver, Washington. press release

Secrets of The Vegetable Garden

By Carron Brown
Illustrated by Giordano Poloni


Shine a light behind the special pages of Secrets of the Vegetable Gardento reveal a plethora of insects and plants living between the stalks, beneath the leaves, and under the soil of the vegetable garden. A glossary at the end of the book presents a few more facts about the fruits and vegetables grown in the garden.

Because of an Acorn

By Lola M. Schaefer & Adam Schaefer
Illustrated by Fran Preston-Gannon


Because of an acorn, a tree grows, a bird nests, a seed becomes a flower. Enchanting die-cuts illustrate the vital connections between the layers of an ecosystem in this magical picture book. Wander down the forest path to learn how every tree, flower, plant, and animal connect to one another in spiraling circles of life. An acorn is just the beginning.

Sleep Tight Farm

By Eugenie Doyle
Illustrated by Becca Stadtlander


A captivating exploration of how a family gets a farm ready for the snow of winter, Sleep Tight Farm lyrically connects each growing season to the preparations at the very end of the farm year. This beautiful and informative book paints a fascinating picture of what winter means to the farm year and to the family that shares its seasons, from spring’s new growth, summer’s heat, and fall’s bounty to winter’s well-earned rest. All year long the farm has worked to shelter us, feed us, keep us warm, and now it’s time to sleep.


Good Trick Walking Stick

By Sheri Mabry Bestor
Illustrated by Jonny Lambert


From eggs buried in an ant colony under the winter snow, to the shedding of exoskeletons, to growing a replacement appendage, the amazing insect introduced in Good Trick Walking Stick will fascinate budding entomologists and nature lovers of all ages.

The Night Gardener

By Terry Fan & Eric Fan


One day, William discovers that the tree outside his window has been sculpted into a wise owl. In the following days, more topiaries appear, and each one is more beautiful than the last. Soon, William’s gray little town is full of color and life. And though the mysterious night gardener disappears as suddenly as he appeared, William—and his town—are changed forever.

2016 Winners:

The 2016 Growing Good Kids Excellence in Children’s Literature Award Winners were announced at the National Children & Youth Garden Symposium in Columbia, South Carolina on July 14, 2016.
press release

Zora’s Zucchini

By Katherine Pryor
Illustrated by Anna Raff


The first zucchini of a summer garden is always exciting, but what happens when the plants just keep growing…and growing…and growing? Zora soon finds herself with more zucchini than her family can bake, sauté, or barbecue. Fortunately the ever-resourceful girl comes up with the perfect plan–a garden swap!

If You Love Honey, Nature’s Connections

By Martha Sullivan
Illustrated by Cathy Morrison


Honey is a sweet gift from nature—ALL of nature, actually. Honey is linked in a very real way to dandelions, earthworms, mushrooms, the old oak tree and even the blue jays squawking in its branches. Take another look at honey. If you love nature’s honey, you are sure to love nature too. How sweet it is!

If You Plant a Seed

Written and Illustrated by Kadir Nelson


If you Plant a Seed is a resonant, gently humorous story about the power of even the smallest acts and the rewards of compassion and generosity.

The 2015 Growing Good Kids Book Award Winners:

See the press releases:

American Horticultural Society 2015 Growing Good Kids Book Awards Announced
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Growing Good Kids Books Recognized

The Prairie That Nature Built

By Mary Beth Lorbiecki
Illustrated by Cathy Morrison


A wild prairie is a lively place in this rhythmic romp with munchers and crunchers above and below the grasses so thick, and fires that flare, and rains that quench—and always the prairie grows green. Back matter offers information and activities for a fuller appreciation of this marvelous, disappearing habitat.

Before We Eat: From Farm to Table

By Pat Brisson
Illustrated by Mary Azarian


Milk doesn’t just appear in your refrigerator, or apples on your kitchen counter. Before we eat, many people must work very hard planting grain, catching fish, tending animals, and filling crates. In this book, vibrantly illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Mary Azarian, readers find out what must happen before food can get to our table to nourish our bodies and spirits.

The 2014 Growing Good Kids Book Award Winner:

What’s in the Garden?

By Marianne Berkes
Illustrated by Cris Arbo

Ages 8-12

The 2013 Growing Good Kids Book Award Winners:

Unveiled July 12th at the AHS National Children & Youth Garden Symposium hosted at the Denver Botanical Gardens

Our School Garden!

By Rick Swann
Illustrated by Christy Hale

Ages 8-12


New city. New school. Michael is feeling all alone—until he discovers the school garden! There’s so many ways to learn, and so much work to do. Taste a leaf? Mmm, nice and tangy hot. Dig for bugs? “Roly-poly!” he yells. But the garden is much more than activities outdoors: making school garden stone soup, writing Found Poems and solving garden riddles, getting involved in community projects such as Harvest Day, food bank donations, and spring plant sales. Each season creates a new way to learn, explore, discover and make friends.

Molly’s Organic Farm

By Carol Malnor and Trina Hunner
Illustrated by Trina Hunner

Ages 8-12


Whoosh…the wind blows open a creaky gate. Inquisitive and mischievous, a homeless little cat scampers through—and suddenly finds herself in the wondrous world of an organic farm! Affectionately named “Molly” by the farmers who discover her, she romps, naps, and hunts among the vegetables. Seen through Molly’s eyes, the reader discovers the interplay of nature that grows wholesome food. But what will happen to Molly when winter comes? Based on a true story, Molly will touch children’s hearts while introducing them to plants and the key elements of growing food organically. Standards-based science concepts and activities at the end of the book expand the message of the story.

First Peas to the Table

By Susan Grigsby
Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell

Ages 8-12


Maya loves contests, so she is excited when her teacher announces that her class will plant a garden like Thomas Jefferson’s. They’ll also have a First Peas to the Table contest just like Jefferson and his neighbors had. Maya plants her pea seeds with a secret head start, found in Thomas Jefferson’s Garden Book. But her friend Shakayla has plans of her own for winning the contest.

The 2012 Growing Good Kids Book Award Winners:

Unveiled July 20th at the AHS National Children & Youth Garden Symposium hosted in Alexandria, Virginia

The Mangrove Tree

By Susan L. Roth & Cindy Trumbore

Ages 4-12


For a long time, the people of Hargigo, a village in the tiny African country, were living without enough food for themselves and their animals. The families were hungry, and their goats and sheep were hungry too. Then along came a scientist, Dr. Gordon Sato, who helped change their lives for the better. And it all started with some special trees.  With alternating verse and prose passages, The Mangrove Tree invites readers to discover how Dr. Sato’s mangrove tree-planting project transformed an impoverished village into a self-sufficient community. This fascinating story is a celebration of creativity, hard work—and all those mangrove trees that were planted by the sea!

Meadowlands: A Wetland Survival Story

By Thomas F. Yezerski

Ages 8-12


The 20,000 acres of wetlands in New Jersey now known as the Meadowlands were once home to hundreds of species of plants and animals. But in the four hundred years since European explorers first arrived in the Meadowlands, people have dammed up, drained, built over, and polluted this formerly vibrant ecosystem—and all but destroyed it. Still, signs of life remain—under bridges, on the edges of parking lots, and beside train tracks. Slowly but surely, with help from activist groups, government organizations, and ordinary people, the resilient creatures of the Meadowlands are making a comeback, and the wetlands are recovering.

Planting the Wild Gardens

By Kathryn O. Galbraith
Illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin

Ages 8-12


A farmer and her son plant vegetables in their garden, and the wind carries a few seeds away. Birds and animals may carry some along with them on their travels. Sometimes the rain washes them away to a new and unexpected location. And sometimes something more extraordinary occurs, as in when the pods of the Scotch Broom plant open explosively in the summer heat, scattering seed everywhere like popcorn. Year-round, we all play a role in the dispersal of seeds throughout our landscape, planting the wild garden together.

The 2011 Growing Good Kids Book Award Winners:

Unveiled July 22nd at the AHS National Children & Youth Garden Symposium hosted at Michigan State University

Water, Weed and Wait

By Edith Hope Fine & Angela Demos Halpin
Illustrated by Colleen Madden

Ages 8-12


When Miss Marigold challenges the kids at Pepper Lane Elementary to turn an unpromising patch of their schoolyard into a garden full of fruits, flowers, and vegetables, they know they’ll need all the help they can get. Soon everyone in the community is lending a hand—including an unlikely neighbor with a soft spot for gardening—and it isn’t long before peppers, zuccchini, sugar peas, snapdragons, zinnias, and much more are growing and blooming.

Nibbles: A Green Tale by Charlotte Middleton

By Charlotte Middleton

Ages 8-12


The guinea pigs of Dandeville love munching dandelion leaves so much that slowly but surely dandelions are disappearing all over town. Soon there is only one dandelion left! A little guinea pig named Nibbles finds this last dandelion right outside his window. What should he do? Nibbles finds a way to save the day—and the dandelions—in this green tale, which is captured in unique mixed-media artwork.

In the Garden with Dr. Carver

By Susan Grisby
Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell

Ages 8-12


Sally is a young girl living in rural Alabama in the early 1900s, a time when people were struggling to grow food in soil that had been depleted by years of cotton production. One day, Dr. George Washington Carver shows up to help the grownups with their farms and the children with their school garden. He teaches them how to restore the soil and respect the balance of nature. He even prepares a delicious lunch made of plants, including “chicken” made from peanuts. And Sally never forgets the lessons this wise man leaves in her heart and mind. Susan Grigsby’s warm story shines new light on an African American scientist who was ahead of his time.


The 2010 Growing Good Kids Book Award Winners:

Unveiled on July 24th at the AHS National Children & Youth Garden Symposium hosted at the Pasadena, California

Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie

By Robbin Gourley

Ages 8-12


With lyrical text and glorious watercolor illustrations, this very special book traces the childhood roots of Edna Lewis and her appreciation for the bounties of nature. The story follows Edna from early spring through the growing season to a family dinner celebrating a successful harvest. Edna and her family lived by the seasons, growing and harvesting nature’s gifts. When she grew up she moved to New York City where she became a famous chef. An award-winning pioneer in her own right, Edna never forgot the lessons she learned as a child.

The Busy Tree

By Jennifer Ward
Illustrated by Lisa Falkenstem

Ages 4-12


Spectacular illustrations rendered in oil paint, and a rhyming text that describes a tree’s activities from its roots to its branches, introduce young readers to the amazing activities that go on in a tree. Acorns nibbled by chipmunks, ants scurrying across a trunk, a spider spinning a web, leaves “breathing out air for all to breathe in”–everything adds up to a “busy tree” for all to “come and see.”

The Curious Garden

By Peter Brown

Ages 4-12


One boy’s quest for a greener word…one garden at a time. While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world.This is an enchanting tale with environmental themes and breathtaking illustrations that become more vibrant as the garden blooms. Red-headed Liam can also be spotted on every page, adding a clever seek-and-find element to this captivating picture book.

Our Shadow Garden

By Cherie Foster Colburn Ages 8-12


Our Shadow Garden tells the story of a beloved grandmother who becomes sick. The illness prevents her from being out in the sun where she loves to garden. Her husband and her grandchild try hard to make her feel better; they send her cards and fresh flowers, but nothing makes her happy. Together they come up with a plan to transform her garden into a night blooming oasis, a place where she can be with the plants that bring her so much joy. Our Shadow Garden is the story of a family enchanted by the healing power of the night garden, a true gift of love.

The 2009 Growing Good Kids Book Award Winners:

Unveiled on July 24th at the AHS National Children & Youth Garden Symposium hosted at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens

Apple-Pip Princess

By Jane Ray

Ages 4-12


Once there was a kingdom full of laughter, happiness, trees, and birdsong. But when the queen dies, the land becomes quiet and barren, and everyone is filled with sadness. What will make the kingdom bloom again? Can Serenity, the youngest of three princesses, bring hope and life back to her kingdom with a single apple pip — a precious seed left to her by her mother? This original fairy tale is brought to life and exquisitely illustrated by the internationally renowned Jane Ray.

Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move

By JoAnn Early Macken
Illustrated by Pam Paparone 
Age 4-10


A gust of wind lifts a maple seed, sending it spinning like a shiny green helicopter through the sky. Where will it land? From splashing away in a raindrop to scurrying with scampering squirrels to hitching rides on your sleeves and socks, seeds have many ingenious ways of traveling to new places, growing roots, and beginning the cycle again.

Big Yellow Sunflower

By Frances Barry

Age 3-8


A seed is falling to the ground. What will it be? Turn the shaped pages as a mole, a worm, a snail, a bird, a bee, and other creatures watch the seed take root and sprout up through the soil. As each page fans out revealing a bright splash of yellow, a gigantic sunflower unfolds in a brilliant display. Explore the wonders of things that grow!

The 2008 Growing Good Kids Book Award Winners:

Unveiled on July 26th at the AHS National Children & Youth Garden Symposium hosted at The University of Delaware

If I Were a Tree

By Dar Hosta

Ages 4-12


In If I Were A Tree, collage artist, Dar Hosta, brings trees alive with vibrant color and cut paper.  She pays homage to their importance in our day to day lives, and encourages thoughtful readers to imagine how it would be to be a tree. Also included are interesting tree facts, as well as a diagram that names the basic parts of a tree.So, how would it be if you were a tree?

Mother Earth and Her Children

By Sybil Von Olfers & Sieglinde Schoen-Smith
Illustrated by Jack Zipes

Ages 4-12


 As Spring approaches, Mother Earth wakes her sleepy children. Deep below the earth, the children yawn and stretch. They dust off the bumblebees, scrub the beetles, paint splendid new coats on the ladybugs, and rouse the caterpillars from their cocoons then emerge from earth to become flowers of Spring. In rhyming verse and vibrant illustrations, this entrancing story touches on such themes as rejuvenation and the passing of the seasons, helping young children understand the circle of life.

The Old Tree

By Ruth Brown

Ages 4-12


Deep in the forest one morning, Pigeon Post notices a huge X on the trunk of the old tree. All the tree’s residents have a different theory about whom is to blame, until Captain Crow solves the mystery — but can they stop their quarreling before it’s too late? This delightful tale of cooperation and conservation, complemented by luminous illustrations, is sure to engage readers from the start of the story to the wonderful pop-up tree on the final spread.”

The Runaway Garden

By Jeffery L. Schatzer
Illustrated by Jeffery Ebbeler

Ages 4-12


What made the snap beans snap?

How did the berries get into a jam?

What happened to the cauliflower’s head?

Read along as Grandpa spins a tale about the night that all the plants in the garden get up and run away. At first they think running away is fun, but it isn’t long before things go terribly wrong.

The 2007 Growing Good Kids Book Award Winners:

Unveiled on July 21st at the AHS National Children & Youth Garden Symposium hosted in Chaska, Minnestoa

A Seed Is Sleepy

By Dianna Hutts Aston 
llustrated by Sylvia Long

Ages 4-12


“A seed is sleepy. It lies there, tucked inside its flower, on its cone, or beneath the soil. Snug. Still.”  Poetic in voice and elegant in design, A Seed is Sleepy is a gorgeous and informative introduction to seeds that is equally at home being read on a parent’s lap as in a classroom reading circle.

Josias, Hold the Book

By Jennifer Riesmeter Elvgreen  
Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell 

Age 4-12


This moving story of a Haitian boy determined to make his garden grow is brought to lifethrough luminous watercolor illustrations. Every morning Josias is hard at work in the family’s garden under the hot sun. His friend asks,” When will you join us and hold the book?” With his garden failing, Josias has no time to learn how to read and write. There may not be enough food for his family. Soon, Josias realizes a book might hold the solution to his problem.

Once Around the Sun

By Bobbi Katz  
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham 

Age 4-12


Children don’t need a calendar to tell them which season it is. Every month has its own distinct clues, like in September “when yellow pencils in brand-new eraser hats / bravely wait on perfect points.” In a dozen unforgettable poems, this fresh yet nostalgic collection captures the excitement of each season, spinning us once around the sun – twelve months, four seasons, one amazing year.

The 2006 Growing Good Kids Book Award Winners:

Unveiled on July 29th at the AHS National Children & Youth Garden Symposium hosted in St. Louis, Missouri

Leaf Man

By Lois Ehlert 

Ages 4-12


Fall has come, the wind is gusting, and Leaf Man is on the move. Is he drifting east, over the marsh and ducks and geese? Or is he heading west, above the orchards, prairie meadows, and spotted cows? No one’s quite sure, but this much is certain: A Leaf  Man’s got to go where the wind blows.

With illustrations made from actual fall leaves and die-cut pages on every spread that reveal gorgeous landscape vistas, here is a playful, whimsical, and evocative book that celebrates the natural world and the rich imaginative life of children.

Earth Mother

By Ellen Jackson Leo & Diane Dillon

Age 4-12


“Earth Mother awakes with the dawn. As she walks the land, swims the sea, and climbs the mountains, nurturing all of creation, she comes across Man, Frog, and Mosquito. They each give her thanks for natures’s bounty, yet can’t help but give her advice about making their lives better. Everybody’s got an opinion, it seems, and Earth Mother is amused when it becomes clear that the circle of life is not without a healthy dose of comic humor. “

Miss Ladybird’s Wildflowers

By Kathi Appelt  

Illustrated by Joy Fisher Hein Age 4-12


Bluebonnets and lady’s slippers, larkspurs and blazing stars, black-eyed Susan and Granny’s nightcaps. From a lonely childhood in the Piney Woods of East Texas to an exciting life in the White House, Lady Bird Johnson loved these wildflowers with all her heart. They were her companions in her youth,greeting her everywhere as she explored wild forests, bayous, and hills. Later, as First Lady, she sought to bring the beauty of wildflowers to America’s cities and highways.A warm and engaging look at the life of a great First Lady, Appelt tells the story behind Lady Bird Johnson’s environmental vision, and Hein’s colorful wildflowers burst from every page, inviting us to share in Lady Bird’s love for natural beauty.

Our Apple Tree

By Gorel Kristina Naslund

Illustrated by Kristina Digman 

Age 4-12


Here’s a whimsical and very useful look at the lifecycle of the apple tree. With two helpful tree sprites to guide them, readers travel from spring, when the apple tree blossoms, through summer, when the fruit grows, to fall and the harvest. Along the way, they learn about the life of the tree and some of the animals—from insects that pollinate the flowers to deer that eat the fallen fruit—that visit. With lovely, delicate illustrations this is an excellent choice for the classroom–and the garden!

The Tree Farmer

By Chuck Leavell & Nicholas Cravotta
Illustrated by Rebecca Bleau 

Age 8-12


A grandfather who owns a tree farm takes his grandson on a magical journey through the forest, where trees become musical instruments, books, a baby’s crib and more. They story explains the vital role that trees play in our lives, providing us with the wood for our homes, furniture and other products– and mankind’s responsibility to protect and care for them. Co-authored by Chuck Leavell, musician, tree farmer, conservationist and long time keyboardist for the Rolling Stones.