I would love to teach this book with older elementary or middle school students. The gentle way it teaches how one person doing a simple action can create and build community is quite lovely. Luckily, I am getting to do the next best thing. 

The teacher that I am mentoring this year is going to use this book as a read-aloud with her third and fourth grade class.  They are studying community and are working at learning how to build a community from diversity.  And I could think of no book that would make that point better.

This novel is really a collection of tiny vignettes that tell the story of a vacant urban lot and how the people who live around it work to create a garden there.  In the process, they learn the lesson that even in their differences they can become a strong and vibrant whole.  It isn't easy, it isn't always cooperative, but it is always a "growing" experience for everyone involved.

I have discovered that many adult programs for people who are trying to learn English use this book as a way to reach adult readers and to engage them.  That makes sense, because while the vocabulary is accessible, the themes resonate with readers of all ages.