Diana’s White House Garden by Elisa Carbone is a true story about Diana Hopkins , the ten year old child who lived in the White House during the term of President Roosevelt. Back in 1943, Diana lived in the White House with her father, Harry Hopkins who was the chief adviser to President Roosevelt. During World War II, the White House was a a very busy time for both her father, the President and rest of the country. Diana wanted to help with the war efforts. However, each idea she had ended in disaster, especially the time when she put pins all over the seats in the White House to protect them against enemies!
One day President Roosevelt proposed an idea to Diana’s father. He wanted the US soldiers to eat food directly from the farmers because he wanted his army to be healthy and strong. Roosevelt also wanted the civilians to grow their own food and convert backyards, lots and other spaces into gardens. This effort would not only help the US soldiers, but it would also encourage US civilians to eat healthy and support the farmers.
To begin this process, Roosevelt wanted to start his own Victory Garden at the White House. Diana volunteered to help with this effort. After some failed attempts and lots of help from the first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, Diana learned how to grow a beautiful garden full of fruits and vegetables. Her effort and hard work was noticed by the press and she was recognized as a contributor towards the war effort. Diana couldn’t be more proud!
There are multiple learning opportunities when reading Diana’s White House Garden. As you are reading this book to your child, explain various concepts that may be unfamiliar such as war, quarantine, air raid shelter and war bonds. Explaining the concept of a war can be complex but keeping it simple can help a child understand why Diana would want to be a part of helping the soldiers. For some tips on how to explain war to your children, click here. Ask your child, “What did Diana do to try to help contribute?”, “Why was the garden called the Victory Garden?” Explaining unfamiliar vocabulary as you are reading can help a child understand the definition more readily. When you done reading the story, review the words again and then try to use them in a different context. For example, when someone wins a game in your house, you can use the word “victory” again. This can help a child understand the word more consistently.
Discuss President Roosevelt and use this as an opportunity to teach your child about different presidents. What number president was Roosevelt? How long was Roosevelt president? For a link to specific lesson plans about President Roosevelt, click here. If your child wants to learn more about Diana Hopkins, click here.
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