Skip to main content

A Living Book for PLANT BIOLOGY?!?!

elections 009Yes, it’s true!

This book, The Green Kingdom, Volume 6 in the 1992 edition of the Childcraft series from World Book, was recommended on another homeschool blog, and something about it just called out to me.

For some reason, I immediately thought "aha!" and bought the book (used, cheap) right away.  Like within minutes of her posting.

When it arrived, I was honestly amazed.   And I read, and read about, a LOT of kids’ books.

We are just starting plant biology now and this is hands-down the best (no, scratch that, the ONLY) book I have seen that approaches plants from a "story-telling" perspective instead of a dull, dry, "just-facts" perspective.  It truly is a plants book you can curl up with, showing and telling about the lives of plants.

Without the distracting “factoids” of most contemporary books, this book (this 1992 edition, anyway) features well-laid-out text, many nicely-drawn simple illustrations and photographs. 

plants 001 Our Living Learning Science curriculum for this week had us read one page about leaves from the plants-unit “spine,” the Usborne Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Natural World.  Just that one page left my head spinning.   (see the page, at right – cram-jammed with over-our-heads factoids)

Well, then we opened The Green Kingdom.  It starts with a poem about the seasons – yay, poetry!  It shows how plants work through all the different seasons.  It shows how plants are living things – that a buttercup is not all that different from a butterfly.  How very, VERY sweet.  The next section we will read is about plant habitats – which ought to mesh perfectly with next year’s Elemental Science, which begins with animal habitats.

Here are two sample page layouts.  Lots of green, lots of happy, but good, solid blocks of text.  Notice the squinty print size in the Usborne book above?  I wonder why publishers think that by cramming in MORE TEXT, they are automatically making their book BETTER.

plants 003 plants 002 The Green Kingdom’s explanations and metaphors are straightforward and, despite the simplicity of the layout, not at all childish.  And look at all that gorgeous whitespace.  Take that, Usborne, Dorling-Kindersley, and anybody else who believes that serious living books went out with reading primers.  ;-P

There is definitely enough science in here for a Grade 1-2 level, along with the straight-through readability and clear fonts that make this a science book you can curl up with.  It even includes chapters on weird plants, like meat eaters and fungi (it classifies fungi as a plant, and I always thought they were a separate kingdom, but never mind).

I took biology in university AND I'm an avid gardener and I am still learning TONS from this old-fashioned little book.  Plant biology has always made me yawn – but this is a book I actually read cover to cover on my own before starting it with the kids.  If anything’s going to turn my KIDS into avid plantspeople, it’s books like these.

There have been many editions of this book, some vintage and kind of expensive, but most used booksellers online have copies for just a couple of dollars plus shipping (admittedly, a bit expensive to Canada, but the book price is so low it’s okay – in my opinion).  We have the 1992 edition, and the ISBN inside the book cover is 0-7166-0191-5.  Be careful – there are a lot of editions, and even though the book is Volume 6 in the 1992 edition, the volume numbering changed from edition to edition, so listings can be confusing.  Here’s a complete listing of this edition, though the covers look different from mine – like I said, confusing!  I’m sure all the editions are quite good, though.

I’ve seen reports around the Web of people finding these volumes in thrift shops for next to nothing, though, of course, the odds of turning up this particular volume are probably quite low.

Although Melissa, the blogger who originally inspired me, says The Green Kingdom is by far the best volume in the set, I have ordered 3 more titles:  About Animals, About Us, and a bit of a wildcard, Make and Do, the “arts & crafts how-to” volume.  I’ll be sure to update you when these ones arrive!


  1. Ahh, thanks for the heads up... I have ordered an older version, hoping it is just as good =)

  2. I've been looking for a good plant book for a long time. So this sounds really great! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Another good curriculum review (those are always SO helpful!) And I like that it approaches the subject from a story telling perspective. I have the same feelings about the Usborne books.

  4. That is a wonderful book! We are just wrapping up a year on plant study and I am envious (but not sinningly envious) we did not have that book. The illustrations are fabulous. I also looked hard to find good story like books to teach with. I ended up with a few vintage books, The first book of plants, Little wanderers, Seed babies (the boys loved this one) and The Mary Francis Garden Books. They are all free and available for download if you search on google. But they lack the great pictures you have there. GREAT FIND! ENJOY!


Post a Comment

I love your comments!

Popular posts from this blog

לימודי קודש/Limudei Kodesh Copywork & Activity Printables

Welcome to my Limudei Kodesh / Jewish Studies copywork and activity printables page.  As of June 2013, I am slowly but surely moving all my printables over to 4shared because Google Docs / Drive is just too flaky for me. What you’ll find here: Weekly Parsha Copywork More Parsha Activities More Chumash / Tanach Activities Yom Tov Copywork & Activities Tefillah Copywork Pirkei Avos / Pirkei Avot Jewish Preschool Resources Other printables! For General Studies printables and activities, including Hebrew-English science resources and more, click here . For Miscellaneous homeschool helps and printables, click here . If you use any of my worksheets, activities or printables, please leave a comment or email me at Jay3fer “at” gmail “dot” com, to link to your blog, to tell me what you’re doing with it, or just to say hi!  If you want to use them in a school, camp or co-op setting, please email me (remove the X’s) for rates. If you just want to say Thank You, here’s a

Hebrew/ עברית & English General Studies Printables

For Jewish Studies, including weekly parsha resources and copywork, click here . If you use any of my worksheets, activities or printables, please leave a comment or email me at Jay3fer “at” gmail “dot” com, to link to your blog, to tell me what you’re doing with it, or just to say hi!  If you want to use them in a school, camp or co-op setting, please email me (remove the X’s) for rates. If you enjoy these resources, please consider buying my weekly parsha book, The Family Torah :  the story of the Torah, written to be read aloud – or any of my other wonderful Jewish books for kids and families . English Worksheets & Printables: (For Hebrew, click here ) Science :  Plants, Animals, Human Body Math   Ambleside :  Composers, Artists History Geography Language & Literature     Science General Poems for Elemental Science .  Original Poems written by ME, because the ones that came with Elemental Science were so awful.  Three pages are included:  one page with two po

What do we tell our kids about Chabad and “Yechi”?

If I start by saying I really like Chabad, and adore the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, z"l, well... maybe you already know where I'm headed. Naomi Rivka has been asking lately what I think about Chabad.  She asks, in part, because she already knows how I feel.  She already knows I’m bothered, though to her, it’s mostly about “liking” and “not liking.”  I wish things were that simple. Our little neighbourhood in Israel has a significant Chabad presence, and Chabad conducts fairly significant outreach within the community.  Which sounds nice until you realize that this is a religious neighbourhood, closed on Shabbos, where some huge percentage of people are shomer mitzvos.  Sure, it’s mostly religious Zionist, and there are a range of observances, for sure, but we’re pretty much all religious here in some way or another. So at that point, this isn’t outreach but inreach .  Convincing people who are religious to be… what? A lot of Chabad’s efforts here are focused on kids, including a