The food pyramid is one of the first introductions to the importance of food, but often that 2D triangle just doesn’t get too many kids excited. It’s important now more than ever to get kids at an early age involved in what they’re eating. Toddlers and younger children benefit from helping prepare meals and talking about the different food groups. But, once they are in elementary school it’s so important that they understand their food doesn’t just come from the grocery store. Dianne Venetta, gardening extraordinaire, saw the need for more fun and entertaining ways to help children understand where food comes from and how knowing that is so important for their health.
Venetta’s Wild Tales & Garden Thrills series follows the organic gardening journey of Lexi and Jason Williams. Readers are able to follow their gardening journey from beginning to end, top to bottom, and all that’s inbetween. The focus isn’t just on the foods you plant but how those seeds and plants coexist with worms and insects and the bigger environment around them. Perfect for students in grades 2-4 with an age range of 7-10, this series is full of vocabulary words, recipes, and organic gardening lessons in each book making them a great asset to any classroom.
Each book in the series focuses on organic gardening, and Venetta has done a marvelous job at keeping the stories fun and relatable. In her first book, Show Me the Green!, Lexi and Jason Williams are determined to win the First Annual Garden Contest in their town. They are surprised by everything their backyard garden has to offer even the worm poop! Readers can join Lexi and Jason again in Beans, Greens, and Grades when their gardening skills are put to the test. Their principal wants them to create a garden at their school, Beacon Academy. They must go through the process of planning, recruiting, team building, and educating fellow classmates on how to garden. But, having so many people involved and facing several problems, the kids realize just how difficult making a garden of this magnitude could be especially with sustainable grant money on the line. Finally, the newest book in the series, The Muddy Fingers Garden Crew to the Rescue!, features a community garden that may have to close leaving a food pantry and community members without the food they need. Jamal Livingston, a student at Beacon Academy, recruits his friends at school to help him save the garden. The kids hit a lot of bumps in the road on their journey to save the community garden, but you’ll have to read the book to see how it all turned out.
Venetta’s three book series on organic gardening targeted at elementary age children is a phenomenal resource. It’s the perfect introduction to organic gardening and the bigger conversation of where our food comes from.