For an introduction to compost, I have three favorite books – “Compost Stew,” “Composting: Nature’s Recyclers,” and “Diary of a Worm.” For classroom activities around compost, my favorite is “Worms Eat Our Garbage.”
“Compost Stew” is a fun book to read because of it’s rhythm and rhyme and it’s repetitive chorus “Just add to the pot, and let it all rot, into Compost Stew.” It is also set up as an ABC book, listing an ingredient for compost stew for each letter of the alphabet. The ingredients are sometimes beyond the simple idea of fruit, veggie, and yard scraps (they also include hair snippings, quarry dust, seaweed strands, etc) but the kids seem to understand the basic idea given all of the examples by the end of the long list. After listing all of the ingredients, there is a short explanation of the steps for creating compost that is easy for the kids to repeat and remember, “Moisten. Toss lightly. Cover. Let brew.” The images throughout the book are beautiful collages and complex with details – every group of kids finds something different hidden in the pages. Overall, it is an entertaining introduction to the idea of composting for all ages of kids.
“Composting: Nature’s Recyclers” is a book I chose for my bigger kids – third, fourth, and fifth grades. It is setup with the features of a non-fiction text (table of contents, headings, captions, glossary, and index) and is easy to navigate. I like that it begins with the idea of how composting happens naturally and then discusses how we can create that same system for our garden. The second half of the book focuses on the decomposers and the microorganisms at work in the compost pile – the kids love learning about worms, beetles, fungi, and bacteria. The design of the book is very eye-catching and the “fun facts” scattered throughout keep the kids’ attention. (AR level – 4.1)