Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Four Great Children's Books for Summer

The garden is plugging along, with the exception of a few green bean and zucchini seeds that failed to germinate.  I may have planted them a bit too early, so I will try again, as well as start another brand in peat pots just in case.  I cannot imagine a summer without lots of large home grown zucchini and fresh green beans.

While I am waiting for my garden to catch up, I thought, instead of a garden update, I would share some of my favorite children's books for summer.

This first book, I purchased when Sarah and Joseph were toddler and preschool age.  We were moving to our rural property and we had plans for a very large garden.  Roots Shoots Buckets and Boots by Sharon Lovejoy was full of wonderful inspiring ideas to garden with children.  Ideas like the Pizza Patch, a Moon Garden, and a Sunflower House were some of my favorites.

It was fun to browse through this book again, and it got me to reminiscing, so I had to dig out some of the pictures from the year we grew our first really big garden.

You can read more about this book through my Amazon link.

Here Sarah and Joseph ( about 12 years ago) are standing in the Sunflower Patch, kids love Sunflowers, so fun and easy to grow, and some get quite tall. We made a Sunflower house the following year.

Here they are in the squash patch, I grew a very nice big blue hubbard squash which yoyu can see peaking out beneath the vines. Squash and pumpkins are very fun to grow.  The first year we grew far more than we could use, we shared some and the chickens took care of the rest.

Here our wonderful farm and house cat "Mama" kitty, is coming up to visit with the kids.

Here Sarah is helping with weeding, both Sarah and Joseph loved working alongside Gary and I, and learning which plants were weeds, and which weren't.

Here Joseph is having fun exploring the garden, it was so wonderful to be able to have this space for Sarah and Joseph to grow up enjoying the garden.

Here Sarah and Joseph are standing in our flower garden, with our first group of laying hens.

Definitely some wonderful memories!

Here are the peas I am growing in a large bucket, this would be a very fun project for kids, you can find these buckets every summer in various stores, I drill holes in the bottom as well as a few about an inch up on the bottom sides, fill the bottom with gravel or something else for drainage, then add potting soil, it is amazing how much you can grow in a bucket.  For the peas, and also for tomatoes, I made a tee-pee out of bamboo sticks for plant support.

The next two books I thought I would share about were written by Jules Bass, of Rankin and Bass Christmas special fame.  Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon and Cooking With Herb the Vegetarian Dragon- A Cookbook for Kids.

I first purchased these books when we went Vegetarian for a couple of years, they were a fun way to help teach the kids what a Vegetarian is.  Although we were only Vegetarian for a couple of years, and ultimately decided to add meat back into our diet, these were still wonderful books to have around.  The story of Herb The vegetarian Dragon is cute, and the cook book is full of great recipes that kids will enjoy.  With all the fresh veggies available during the summer, either in your own backyard garden or at the local farmers market, this cookbook has wonderful recipes for working in lots of veggies.

Here is my Amazon link for Herb the Vegetarian Dragon.

It looks like Cooking With  Herb is out of print, but New and Used Copies can still be found on Amazon.

Lastly I have chosen a wonderful book from my childhood, this book took me years to find again, mostly because I didn't remember the title.  After quite some time trying to locate it on Ebay, I finally found a wonderful used copy, and it was being sold by the well loved Portland Powell's Book store, I was very excited to  finally be reunited with a book I poured over as a child- Smokey Bear's Camping Book.

I went camping with my Grandma Irene multiple times every summer, and I loved it.  My grandma would take us on hikes, teach us how to set up the tent.  We would gather logan and lingon berries on our morning hike and put them in our pancakes.  We went to potlucks with other campers, and had fun around the campfire.  

Smokey Bear's Camping Book from 1976 is chock full of info about camping, and the vintage 70's pictures are wonderful!  The one I had originally as a child was also a used copy that I found while hunting for thrift store treasures with my mom and sister.  

Our tent looked pretty familiar to the one in this picture.

This was my favorite recipe from the book, how to bake bread on a stick.  I am not sure I ever tried it while camping, but I tried a version in my stove at home, though I must have found something other than a stick to cook it on.   The instructions are to take two fistfuls of flour, two pinches of salt, 2 pinches of baking soda, 2 finger globs of fat, and enough water to make the dough stiff.  Form into a long sausage, twist around a stick, and bake over glowing coals.

This book has lists of gear to bring, types of tents, some first aid and safety rules.  I have always loved being prepared, and this book was a source of inspiration for me.  If you come across a copy I would highly recommend this book for inspiring wonderful summer camp outs, and for anyone who loves Smokey Bear or vintage 70's this is also a very fun book.

School will be out tomorrow, and we are all excited that summer break is here, time to spend in the garden, on nature hikes, and around the fire roasting marshmallows.  Today the kids had a bunch of friends over for an end of school get together.  We had yummy snacks, and a tray of red velvet mini cupcakes (my favorite size of cupcakes) with my homemade Cream cheese frosting (1 stick of softened butter, 1 -8 oz pack of softened cream cheese, a two pound bag of powdered sugar (and slightly more just in case frosting is too runny), vanilla to taste, and milk to thin it to the right consistency, I never measure this I just add a little at a time until it is right for the top of a cupcake) -very delicious frosting.  They all burned off the calories playing hours of a wii dancing game, a Nerf battle, and other fun.  They are all in Choir and Drama together and are all a wonderful fun bunch of positive kids who I thoroughly enjoy hosting!


  1. I'm far from being a child, but I think I'd enjoy those books too! Your children look so adorable in front of their garden. The boys used to help and play in our garden and I believe it instilled in them the love of nature and self-sufficiency. They all have gardens of their owns now. Your the mom's house I'd want to hang out at with all those wonderful goodies you make, April! Love your gnome! (I lived in Wisconsin, it's mandatory that you love gnomes there.)

  2. we have a Kids in the kitchen link up on Tues on my blog - love for you to join! coming from Titus :)

  3. Thanks Jane~ I still enjoy these books as well, even now that the kids are older. It was fun looking through these old garden photos, I hope I have passed on the love of gardening to them, like you have to your sons. Gardening is so wonderful. :)

  4. I love the sound of the Moon Garden and the Sunflower House too! Great post, nice to have found your blog!


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