So far in St. Louis, we’ve had our typical wet, dreary spring. But if you look closely, you’ll notice that all the rain has helped everything green up and come out of dormancy: a fact that can be absolutely magical to children. While we know that sunny skies are just around the corner, now is the perfect time to read some wonderful books about spring with your children. Our picks, below.
- Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt, by Kate Messner, with art by Christopher Silas Neal
This book is truly a work of art! Uncovering all the beauty of a garden in all seasons, the viewpoint switches between what’s above and what’s below the dirt. While the garden above ground is green and lush, the earth below teems with life of its own kind: from earthworms and growing roots, to beetles burrowing, to the dens of animals like skunks and chipmunks! Children will enjoy the guide in the back of the book, which highlights many garden creatures, including the praying mantis, garter snakes, June bugs, earthworms, cutworms, and more!
2. The Happy Day, by Ruth Krauss, illustrated by Marc Simont
This classic has survived the test of time! A 1950 Caldecott Honor Book, this simple story begins with all the animals – from the bears to the snails – asleep in their winter burrows, and follows them as they awaken to small and exciting signs of spring. Best for ages 2 – 6, and for early readers, as the text is simple with many words repeating throughout.
3. The Reason for a Flower, by Ruth Heller
This is a wonderful, comprehensive look into the life and reproductive cycle of a flower. This is also a wonderful example of a book that supports Montessori learning, as it introduces botany terms to the youngest children. From introductions to pollinators, to a look at the magnificent variety of seeds, this book is great conversation starter with lovely illustrations.
4. The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever, by H. Joseph Hopkins, illustrations by Jill McElmurry
Read the inspiring, true story of green-thumbed pioneer and activist Kate Sessions, who helped San Diego grow from a dry desert town into a lush, leafy city known for its gorgeous parks and gardens. Though not solely about spring, this green book will inspire young readers to follow their dreams and stay strong in the face of adversity. Plus, the main character is a girl who, despite being told not to get her hands dirty (it was the 1860’s), definitely did. We know our Montessori girls will appreciate that!
5. Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney
This two-time Caldecott winner tells the true story of Alice Rumphius, the “Lupine Lady,” who scattered lupine seeds everywhere she went. The countless lupines that bloom along the coast of Maine are the legacy of the real Miss Rumphius. The beautiful illustrations tell the story of Alice’s early life, including creating art next to her father, who painted and made figureheads for the prows of ships.
6. Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth, by Mary McKenna Siddals, illustrated by Ashley Wolff
Just in time for Earth Day, Compost Stew is a playful look at how children can start a compost pile, and what is safe to put into the compost – and some of it is surprising and healthy for the soil! For instance, dryer lint! Bonus: this book has beautiful lyrical flow, with rhyming that is perfect for early readers. Spring is the perfect time to start a compost pile – so get to it!
7. The Good Garden: How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough, by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Sylvie Daigneault
Here is the inspiring story of 11-year-old Maria Luz, her struggling farming family in Honduras and their journey to growing enough food to meet their needs. Based on the real story of farm transformation underway in Honduras and many other countries, this book offers children ways they can be part of the movement to grow “good gardens” and foster food security.
8. Mama Mita: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya, by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Through artful prose and beautiful illustrations, Donna Jo Napoli and Kadir Nelson tell the true story of Wangari Muta Maathai, known as “Mama Miti,” who in 1977 founded the Green Belt Movement, an African grassroots organization that has empowered many people to mobilize and combat deforestation, soil erosion, and environmental degradation. Today more than 30 million trees have been planted throughout Mama Miti’s native Kenya, and in 2004 she became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Wangari Muta Maathai has changed Kenya tree by tree—and with each page turned, children will realize their own ability to positively impact the future. (Amazon)
9. It’s Spring! by Linda Glaser, illustrated by Susan Swan
Beautiful paper collages illustrate this book, which covers all the senses and observations a young boy has as he rediscovers spring. Wonderful for ages 2 – 6. Be prepared to read this one again and again!
10. In the Small, Small Pond, by Denise Flemming
A 1994 Caldecott Honor Book, In the Small Small Pond shows readers the life cycle of a frog as it develops through the seasons. Young children will enjoy searching for the frog on each page, as well as glimpses into other less-known pond creatures such as muskrats and herons.