The Junior Master Gardener program and American Horticultural Society have announced this year’s winners of the Growing Good Kids – Excellence in Children’s Literature Awards program. This year’s awards were announced at the 2022 National Children and Youth Gardening Symposium held recently in Richmond, Virginia.
The books selected this year have engaging and inspiring themes related to plants, gardens and ecology, according to Randy Seagraves, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program specialist and Junior Master Gardener international program curriculum director, Bryan-College Station.
About the program and awards
The Junior Master Gardener program is an international youth gardening program of AgriLife Extension. It engages youth in hands-on group and individual learning experiences to help children develop a love of gardening and appreciation for nature.
The Growing Good Kids — Excellence in Children’s Literature Awards program is an annual program recognizing picture book titles published within the previous year. Since 2005, award winners have been selected as representing the best in children’s garden-related picture books.
“The year’s winners are must-haves for any school or home library as they will engage kids with powerful messages,” Seagraves said. “Their content ranges from the ubiquitous dandelion to America’s favorite snack food to the folly of trying to have a ‘perfect’ garden to a centennial birthday celebration for a grand Saguaro cactus. These books are beautiful, novel and great fun. We’re sure their content and compelling illustration will inspire young readers.”
This year’s award winners
— “Little Dandelion Seeds the World” by Julia Richardson and illustrated by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell, Sleeping Bear Press. The book shows how dandelions thrive on all seven continents and how these cheery blooms are among the most resilient and adaptable in the world. In this lyrical book, children learn how the crafty plant travels on the wind and hitches rides in various ways so they may spread far and wide. Includes a map and background on dandelions.
— “Let’s Pop, Pop, Popcorn!” by Cynthia Schumerth and illustrated by Mary Reaves Uhles, Sleeping Bear Press. Told through rhyme, children explain the step-by-step process of how popcorn becomes America’s favorite snack. Beginning with the planting of seeds, the cycle moves through the caretaking of the plant to its harvest. Finally, it shows how the corn kernels are shelled and popped to produce the finished product.
— “The Wall and the Wild” by Christina Dendy and Katie Rewse, Lantana Publishing. The main character Ana grows only perfectly sized plants and perfect-looking flowers in her little plot of land. 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 “perfect,” the shoot and seed rejects that she threw into the wild begin to grow and thrive around the wall.
— “Saguaro’s Gifts” by Kurt Cyrus and illustrated by Andy Atkins, Sleeping Bear Press. This book centers around a celebration in a desert community of the 100th birthday of a grand Saguaro cactus. For 100 years, the majestic cactus has anchored this vibrant neighborhood, providing food, shelter and shade to the local wildlife inhabitants. At the celebration, the various creatures that depend on Saguaro’s gifts come to pay homage to it in rhyme.
How winning books are selected
Publishers nominate titles published in the previous year and an award committee comprised of teachers, literature professors and leaders in youth gardening from across the country evaluates the nominees.
Because winning selections are picture books, they were also chosen for their accompanying illustrations.
“We hope the attention from these awards will bring a wider audience of young minds to these deserving titles,” Seagraves said. “Some of the best award committee reviews are not only from content experts and children’s literature professors, but also from the teachers who have already put the books to the real test by reading them to their elementary school students and asking for their opinions.”
To learn more about the awards program and other selected children’s books, go to https://JMGkids.us/bookawards.