If You Plant a Seed

Gardening board books generally have a dual purpose: to teach kids about the natural world and to speak to a larger moral theme--be it kindness, sharing or giving thanks.

beforeBefore We Eat (Tilbury House, $7.99) by Pat Brisson and illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Mary Azarian, was first published as a picture book in 2018. "As we sit around this table/ let's give thanks as we are able/ to all the folks we'll never meet/ who helped provide this food we eat." A series of double-page spreads follows, depicting the different steps of growing produce and raising animals. The book thanks those who packed the crates, transported the food and sold it at markets. In well-metered rhyme with stylized yet realistic illustrations, Before We Eat shows the work that goes into the food supply chain and highlights the importance of gratitude.

Nana's Garden(Clever, $8.99) is "a special place, just for Nana, Papa, and me," the young narrator of Larissa Juliano and Francesca De Luca's board book tells readers. With a special focus on colors and numbers, the plucky text brings readers through a happy Sunday in Nana's garden. Front and center in each illustration is the grandparents' love and kindness as the child learns more about the natural world.

Caldecott Medalist Kadir Nelson first published If You Plant a Seed (Balzer + Bray, $7.99) as a picture book in 2015. Now in board book form, Nelson's adorable illustrations and simple message--"If you plant a seed of kindness/ in almost no time at all/ the fruits of kindness/ will grow, and grow, and grow"--is all the more accessible to young children. Straightforward text and detailed, lovingly crafted illustrations of animals make this an excellent choice to share with little ones.

--Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness