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Stories for learning and mental health

As we head into what will be a challenging winter our librarians are preparing resources to support teaching and learning based around spring term topics such as growth, change and plant life cycles.

This got us thinking about picture books that, read aloud in a shared story time, will not only generate discussion around curriculum subjects but that, with their ultimately positive uplifting messages and focus on the natural world, will also support the mental health of our children and teachers.

Seeds, plants, gardens and the outdoors

From exotic, colourful and mysterious gardens featuring wild animals and dinosaurs to more gentle natural settings here’s a few of our favourite pictures books to add to your planning for next term or to share now for an early taste of spring and the outdoors:

There's a Tiger in the Garden

There’s a Tiger in the Garden by Lizzy Stewart – with bright, colourful illustrations of a beautiful and surprising garden.

Green ship

The Green Ship by Quentin Blake – tale of a wild garden transformed into a ship that goes on exotic adventures.

Hugless Douglas

Hugless Douglas and the Nature Walk by David Melling – Hugless Douglas and his class are hunting for flowers, twigs, berries and bugs. Children will enjoy sharing their own experiences of the outdoors when reading this story.

We found a seed

We Found a Seed by Rob Ramsden – the life cycle of plants explained in a simple, endearing story.

The Extraordinary Gardner

The Extraordinary Gardener by Sam Boughton – a grey city transformed by plants.

The Something

The Something by Rebecca Cobb – what lives in a hole in the garden? Detailed illustrations add to the enjoyable story.

How to grow a dinosaur

How To Grow a Dinosaur by Caryl Hart – a boring day helping mum plant seeds on the garden turns has some surprising results.


Tree: Seasons Come, Seasons Go by Patricia Hegarty – the life cycle of a tree. The rhyming text is lovely to read aloud and the peep through pages add extra appeal.

Secret Garden

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – the classic story retold in picture book format by Claire Freedman.

Tiny Seed

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle – classic picture book with Carle’s distinctive illustrations. Introduces seed dispersal and the life cycle of a plant.

Ten Seeds

Ten Seeds by Ruth Brown – introduces young children to the concept of counting backwards from 10 to 1 as well as looking at the life cycle of plants.

Last wolf

The Last Wolf by Mini Grey – a reimagining of Little Red Riding Hood. Perfect for discussing trees, deforestation and how we can make a difference.

Structure and Organise Useful Active Reading Comprehension Sessions.

Designed by our librarians alongside expert teaching and learning advisers, our ‘Reading Comprehension Question Cards’ focus on age-appropriate titles and include example questions with discussion points to ensure each session is structured and effective.

Download A Sample Card For Free!
Sally Harrison

Sally Harrison

Sally is the Education Resources Service Manager for Juniper Education. She has worked in primary school and public libraries for 17 years and as a children’s book reviewer. She is a chartered librarian, a member of the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians and has been a board member of the School Library Association.