Meet the Creators of Books in Bloom
Dr. Mark Lubkowitz earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology from The University of Tennessee and followed up with a post-doctoral fellowship in plant development genetics at The University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Valerie Bang-Jensen earned her Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University studying children’s literature, reading, curriculum and teaching.
Mark is now an associate professor of biology, while Valerie serves as an associate professor of education. These two educators are currently working at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont where they have joined forces and expertise to bring an interdisciplinary garden to life.
We have an exciting new article that we will be incorporating onto our website titled, Books in Bloom. This feature illustrates how plants are used to enhance children’s literature while making connections to standards in reading, writing, and science. Read below to find out how this feature came to be and who is behind its inception.
Books in Bloom
Books in Bloom is a monthly column, written by Valerie and Mark, that is dedicated to exploring children’s books through both botanical and literary lenses. Each month the authors will present a book that they have analyzed from their respective disciplines, Education and Biology. The column is divided into three sections. In How the Story Grows Valerie will highlight aspects of the story that focus more on language arts including vocabulary and writing. In The Biological Backstory Mark will reveal the implicit plant-based “backstory” of the book. The third section, Digging Into the Book is designed to help readers make connections between literature and life science by presenting talking points, learning experiences, and related texts. These portions of the article will help teachers see the link to the standards through fun discussions and activities.
The column is based on an actual garden located on the Saint Michael’s College’s campus which was created and is curated by students in the authors’ Children’s Literature and Plant Biology courses. This garden features plants that play critical or whimsical roles in children’s books and helps visitors to discover the synergism between the story, its characters, and gardening. The column aims to do the same, serving as a resource for teachers and parents to enrich young readers’ literary and science experiences by helping them discover the relationship between plants, gardens, and people.
Mark and Valerie have led their biology and education classes through a unique opportunity in which they have designed three educational gardens on the campus of St. Michael’s College. Students from the biology classes are able to focus primarily on the scientific aspects of plant selection and care while those in education look for literary connections and educational opportunities for the public. Students from these classes work in teams of two, one student from each major, to lead tours through the gardens, each student sharing information from their own expertise. What Mark and Valerie have seen from this leadership opportunity, is the students are able to recognize how complex our world is and the true benefit of looking at it from various points of view. Students were able to recognize, while giving a tour, that it was beneficial to have a partner from a different discipline there to provide additional insight on the garden.
Mark and Valerie have created an interdisciplinary opportunity for their students by allowing them to create these gardens and lead these tours. Now they are extending this opportunity to educators nationwide through an upcoming feature with KidsGardening.org titled, “Books in Bloom”.
Introducing the New Garden Feature
Books in Bloom will be incorporated onto our KidsGardening.org website beginning in 2012. A new book will be highlighted each month. Look for this article in an upcoming KGN as we feature the children’s book “The Wind’s Garden”. As the weather turns colder and you find yourself inside on bad weather days, grab a copy of this book so you can be ready to identify these fascinating botanical and literary connections.