“By suggestion and example, I believe children can be helped to hear the many voices about them. Take Time to listen and talk about the voices of the earth and what they mean—the majestic voice of thunder, the winds, the sound of surf or flowing streams.“
– Rachel Carson
It’s summertime and that means a lazier pace for most! Enjoying the outdoors, playing in the sprinkler or slip-n-slide, sipping lemonade and watching the fireflies at night.
I enjoy infusing sweet herbal books with past issues of HRz for some slow paced learning when it’s hot outside. To do this, I read a book with my kids and then we explore issues that correspond to the story. We pick and choose activities based on what we have available and what they are most interested in. I’ve listed a few books and ideas to get you started on this fun activity.
This lovely illustrated book was written about herbalist Mary Blue, inspired by her opening her garden to the public. A great picture book for the younger kids, this book covers Calendula, Bee Balm/Bergamot, Rose, Rosemary, Valerian, Marshmallow, Yarrow, Comfrey, Lavender, Red Clover, Passionflower, Mullein, Chamomile, Spilanthes, Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Thyme, Nettles, Raspberry and Blueberry.
The Herbalist of Yarrow by Shatoiya de la Tour
This wonderful story weaves a tale of a little girl who talks to the plants and uses them for good. Herbs in this story include: Angelica, Lemon Balm, Comfrey, Calendula, St. John’s Wort, Nettles, Elder, Mullein, Borage, Chamomile, Plantain, Red Clover, Garlic, Onion, Thyme, Usnea, Rosemary, Sage, Dandelion, Mint, Oatstraw, Marshmallow, Orange, Ginger, Licorice, Cinnamon, Yarrow, Vanilla, Lavender, Rose and Chickweed.
Wildflower Tea by Ethel Pochocki
A gentleman harvests his herbs daily, drying them in his attic to make tea in the winter. The soft illustrations and gentle storyline make this book a perennial favorite. Perfect for a child who likes to blend their own herbal teas. Herbs mentioned are Apple, Blueberry, Plum, Cherry, Violet, Wild Thyme, Lemongrass, Rose, Edelweiss, Blackberry, Red Clover, Catnip, Yarrow, Mallow, Queen Anne’s Lace, Michaelmas Daisy, Goldenrod and Mint.
Lessons from Mother Earth by Elaine McLeod
A grandmother teaches her grandchild about the importance of taking care of Mother Earth’s garden. This is a great book to discuss the importance of sustainable harvesting and foraging as well as the appropriate time to harvest plants. There are fewer herbs listed but still a great treasure: Lamb’s Quarters, Cranberries, Rosehips, Raspberries, Blueberries, Dandelion and Mushrooms.
Song of the Seven Herbs by Walking Night Bear & Stan Padilla
This book contains seven stories, each on a different herb, based on Native American lore. This would make a perfect book to focus on one different herb each week. Herbs are Stinging Nettles, Yarrow, Dandelion, Violet, Chicory, Rose and Sunflower.
Anna’s Summer Songs by Mary Q Steele
Fourteen poems make up this book. Cute illustrations, a great starting point to focus on individual herbs. Iris, Fern, Strawberry, Forget-me-not, Cornflower, Honeysuckle, Oak, Buttercup, Poppy, Chives, Rose, Lavender, Apple and Rowan.
Yana Listens by Nina Judith Katz
Yana is a little girl who hears the voices of the plant world and discovers how useful the plants in her yard can be. Yana faces her neighbors who want to spray the neighborhood with herbicides. Will Yana be able to convince her neighbors to honor the weeds that grow? In this book, Yana visits many plants including Oak, Maple, Pine, Apple, Plantain, Dandelion, Purslane, Nettles, Yarrow and Burdock.
How to get started
After choosing a book that most resonates with your child(ren), sit down and read the story with them. Decide on how many herbs you would like to learn about. Some children will want to learn snippets of each herb while others will want to go more in depth, maybe learning one herb a week.
For activities, songs, stories, recipes and more, select the corresponding issues of HRz. Each are linked here for your convenience. Download and print off a copy for each child. Preview each issue and decide on which activities you feel would be most appropriate. Older children will enjoy the entire issue while younger children typically enjoy the stories, songs and some of the crafts. Each issue also includes a resource page for watching videos and reading more about the herb.
You might also wish to download a free herbal profile template and print a copy for each plant you will be learning about. This is a great quick sheet to jot down everything about each plant.
Most of all, make it fun! Summer is about loose learning. By letting your child(ren) choose which plants they want to learn about and the activities they most enjoy, they will learn a lot about the plants that grow around them in a fun way.
Are you incorporating herbal learning into your summer fun? Which herbs have you chosen to learn about? Tell us in the comments!