Age Range: 3 to 6
With the warmer weather our thoughts have turned to growing and planting fruit and vegetables. Grow Your Own ‘A yummy story about growing (and eating!) your own food’ is a great story for initiating discussion about how fruit and vegetables grow.
The Story: Sidney Bean lives with his mum in the city and eats ready meals. One summer he goes to stay with Granny in the country and helps in her garden. He learns about growing broccoli, carrots, runner beans and strawberries and eats a variety of fruit and vegetables. Sidney and Granny have such a successful summer that they set up a stall to sell their surplus products. At the end of the summer Granny packs fruit and vegetables into boxes and Mum arrives to pick Sidney up in her new delivery van, she’s changed her job so she can deliver Granny’s fruit and vegetables in the city and help Granny in the garden at the weekend.
I always find it interesting talking to children about where their food comes from, some fruit and vegetables are so familiar to them but often they have no idea how or where they grow. Grow Your Own introduces garden vocabulary e.g. manure, soil, weeding, feeding and shows a variety of fruit and vegetables. Granny’s meals include her homegrown fruit and vegetables and Sidney tries them all (although at the end he still doesn’t like mushrooms!). Children can also identify fruit and vegetables that aren’t mentioned in the text but are shown in the illustrations.
Esther Hall uses earthy colours for the illustrations. The first three pages introduce the city and are grey and colourless in comparison with the more vibrant colours used for the country. The different uses of colour and the fact that Sidney eats ready meals when he is in the city stimulated a discussion with my daughter about how you can still grow fruit and vegetables in pots on balconies or in window boxes if you live in the city and/or haven’t got a garden. We grow carrots and tomatoes in pots, we’ve had more success than when we’ve planted them in the garden.
I used Grow Your Own to introduce a planting session with a group of three to five year olds. Before I read the story we looked at and named a selection of fruit and vegetables and talked about whether they grew under the ground, on a bush or on a tree. I was surprised that although an onion was a familiar vegetable to the children none of them knew what it was called.
Then we read the story and identified the fruit and vegetables that Sidney and Granny grew. Finally we planted a bean and some cress. Both should grow quite quickly, we just need to learn to have patience!
Author / Illustrator: Esther Hall