The Gardener, by Sarah Stewart. Originally published in 1997. A Caldecott Honor book.
This is a children’s picture book that we used in my 2nd/3rd grade home school cooperative class. I’m reviewing it here primarily because I think it would be an excellent book to use in almost any early elementary home school curriculum. After a brief synopsis of the book and grade, I plan to share some of the learning activities our class did which were inspired by this book.
It’s 1935, and Lydia Grace Finch’s father is out of work. The supplemental family income provided by her mother’s work as a seamstress has also dried up. The family is in a hard place. They live in the country, but Lydia Grace’s uncle owns a bakery in the city and is not being hit as hard by the Great Depression. He sends for Lydia Grace to come and live with him and work in his bakery until her parents get back on their feet.
The story of Lydia Grace’s time with her uncle is told via a series of letters that Lydia Grace writes; first to her uncle in anticipation of her trip to the city, and then back home to her parents and grandmother after she moves in with her uncle in the big city.
Although it’s a picture book, it is well written and contains lessons on family caring for family, making the best of a bad situation, and the importance of showing kindness and gratitude.
Learning opportunities our class gleaned from the book:
- Over view of life during The Great Depression
- The difference between communication today verses the 1930’s
- The students learned to write a letter, which many of them mailed to relatives far away.
- The difference between rural life and city life
- The importance of extended family caring for one another
- Games and toys from the 1930’s (a co-teacher was able to provide several examples)
- Bible directives on the importance of gratitude and kindness
If you have read the book with your children before, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it for the benefit of other parents who may be reading. Our 7-year-old enjoyed it and learned a great deal.