Summer (camp!) Reading: A List of Greatest Hits

Summer (camp!) Reading: A List of Greatest Hits
How to read along with campers at Schoolyard Farms

Campers make terrariums after afternoon story time.

Campers make terrariums after afternoon story time.

Greetings Schoolyard Farms friends and families: what are you reading this summer? As we count down the last days of the school year together, it’s so fun to look forward to summer reading, those books we stuff into a beach bag, road trip kit or backpack that accompany us on vacations, picnics, and adventures around town, alike.

Stories and storytelling have an important role at summer camp, too. Each morning, camp staff set up Camp Headquarters, or “HQ,” for our camp community. And you’ll find prominently displayed on our easel bookshelf “library” under the shade of the canopy a few special selections: stories picked out for the day that connect to the theme of our farm activities, or are just nice to have around for a “campfire” moment, or both. As we are celebrating our 5th year of summer camp this year, we’d like to share with you a few of our recommended reads that have become like trusted friends to our camp programming. Follow along with us this summer as we explore our Greatest Hits of children’s literature celebrating plants and plant parts, the seasons, farm life, ecological stewardship, and outdoor play.

1. Seeds. A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston

We love everything by Dianna Hutts Aston! Along with A Seed is Sleepy, check out A Butterfly is Patient, A Nest is Noisy, etc for their beautiful and accurate illustrations. While some campers prefer to sit quietly to listen or volunteer to turn the pages, others enjoy silently acting out the stories we read. I have been treated to many an interpretive dance performance of A Seed is Sleepy on the farm. See what your family makes of the largest and smallest seeds on the planet, or the epic way seeds are adapted for travel!

2. Roots. Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens

No library of children’s literature would be complete without a Trickster story. In “Tops and Bottoms,” Hare tricks Bear into going into business, and lazy Bear learns the difference between the stems and leaves we eat (the “tops”) and the roots we eat (the “bottoms”) the hard way. Don’t try to pull a fast one on our campers: these farmers can’t be fooled.

3. Stems and Leaves. A Leaf Can Be by Laura Purdie Salas

A leaf is a leaf–
A bit of a tree.
But just try to guess
What else it can be!

The rhyming pairs or couplets that explore the many facets and uses of leaves in A Leaf Can Be are a pleasure to read out loud. Campers giggle at “air cleaner/ earth greener” and, in no time, are making up their own language, poetry, and creative uses for leaves, themselves.

4. Flowers. Miss Rumphius by Barbary Cooney and The Boy Who Lost His Bumble by Trudi Esberger.

Meet Miss Rumphius, the Lupine Lady/guerrilla gardener/ecological steward who believes “you must do something to make the world a more beautiful place.” Miss Rumphius is a must-read and must-have for summer camp, and Cooney’s Roxaboxen has a special place in our wild, earth-caring, place-making hearts as well. Along with the flower theme, pollinators must get their due: The Boy Who Lost His Bumble is the tale of of a boy who loves his garden, and misses the bees he used to observe and delight in there. Don’t you hope he gets his bumble back? I hope you read this title with a kid, and find out.

5. Fruits. A Fruit is a Suitcase for Seeds by Jean Richards.

What makes a fruit a fruit? And where do seeds come from, anyway? This book helps young farmers grasp the botanical concepts behind plants and plant parts, and serves as a great lead-in to planting seeds or harvesting fruits to investigate what’s found inside. What a wonder to participate in the completion of a plant’s life cycle! Could your family save seeds this year to plant in your garden, once again?

6. So. Much. More….

Finally, this list is not complete without mention of A Curious Garden by Peter Brown or ANYTHING by Byrd Baylor. What farm and garden-based tales do you recommend we build into our camp library at Schoolyard Farms? Visit the Story Corner during our Free Family Fun Day on the Farm + Plant Sale June 3, 2017 11am-2pm to talk farm camp, kids’ books, and perhaps do a little literary interpretive dance with our growing community. Register a growing reader for Summer Camp 2017 today!