The Tree Lady

Written by: H. Joseph Hopkins

Illustrated by: Jill McElmurry

Before Reading

Explore Illustrations

Let your child explore the cover and illustrations, making observations and predictions about the story that you are about to read together. Discuss questions like:

What do you think of the cover? What do you notice?

How do you think the girl in the picture is feeling? Why do you think that?

What do you think a "tree lady" is?

What do you think will happen in the story?


Talk About Botany

This book tells the story of a well-known botanist, Katherine Olivia Sessions, so talk to your child about what a botanist does. Say that botany is the study of plant science, and work together to list what sorts of things a botanist would study, like trees, grass, and flowers. 

As You Read

Vocabulary Building

Pull different words from the text as you read, and talk about how their different components. For example, talk about syllables for words like EUCALYPTUS by clapping out the syllables. Also, discuss root words and come up with other suffixes for words like GATHER. If your child comes across words that s/he doesn't know, help him/her use context clues in the text and illustrations to discover their meanings. Examples of new words in this story include:



Make Connections

Connect the story to the real world by asking questions like "Why do you think girls were discouraged from studying science? What do you think they were supposed to study? Is that good or bad? Also, look at the illustrations and talk about what your child sees and what information can be gained from them. For example, the image with Katherine in the front of the class raising her hand indicates that she is different from the rest of her classmates, and that she really enjoys the subject.

After Reading

Summarize and Interpret

Help your child summarize the story and discuss the main ideas presented.

Did you like the story? Why/why not?

How would you describe Katherine Olivia Session?

Why was she named Mother of Balboa Park?

What was the town like before she came along? What about after?

Extended Learning Exploration

Go For A Walk and Make a Nature Bracelet

Source: I Am Momma Hear Me Roar

Supplies: duck tape


Go for a walk with your little one and look at the world through Katherine's eyes! Admire the trees and other plant life around you, and use a piece of duck tape wrapped around your child's wrist to collect samples of what you find. Talk about the colors and textures of each piece as you add it to your bracelet. You can also try this color scavenger hunt for added fun!


STEM Extensions

Try these fun and simple experiments which will have your child making clean water, growing tree seedlings, and conducting tree seedling experiments.


Check This Out

Learn more about Katherine Olivia Session from the San Diego History Center.