Spring has long been one of the loveliest themes in literature. The season means rebirth and rejuvenation; fresh air and sunshine; optimism and possibility; bunnies and flowers. Nowhere is this phenomenon more delightfully manifested than in the realm of children’s books.
Here are some book picks to refresh your child’s library this season.
‘Flip, Flap, Fly!’ by Phillis Root (Candlewick Press)
For the youngest book lovers, this immensely adorable picture book, illustrated by David Walker, features encouraging moms and adventurous baby animals, along with a plucky and rhythmically satisfying text that bursts with happy curiosity and love. Parents are sure to hear “Again, please” at the conclusion of each reading.
‘Growing Vegetable Soup’ and ‘Planting a Rainbow’ by Lois Elhert (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Bright, modern graphics and simple text (great for beginning readers) bring to light the fun celebrations of gardening and harvesting. Descriptive secondary labels accompany the bold graphics, adding more educational potential than the board book format might suggest. “Growing” even concludes with a soup recipe for readers to try.
‘Inch by Inch’ by Leo Lionni (Harper Collins)
This tale of a proud and industrious inchworm who can measure just about anything is a classroom staple. When a hungry nightingale comes along, the inchworm puts his talent to use in a unique way to avoid becoming lunch. Lionni’s simple story and charming illustrations bring smiles to his readers and are particularly lovely when paired with a lesson about measuring.
‘Into the Outdoors’ by Susan Gal (Alfred A. Knopf)
This amusing look at a family camping trip depicts the joy of adventure while humorously providing a glimpse of the experience from the forest animals’ point of view. A great read in anticipation of a trip of your own or simply in celebration of the possibility.
‘Flower Garden’ by Eve Bunting (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
A young girl and her dad buy potted flowers at the supermarket and delight everyone they pass on their journey home through the city. There they lovingly plant the flowers in a window box as a birthday surprise for Mom. Showing the happiness that even a simple pot of nature’s beauty can bring, “Flower Garden,” illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt, is a sweet spring read.
‘It’s Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden’ by George Ancona (Candlewick Press)
This photo album storybook documents a year in the life of the school garden at New Mexico’s Acequia Madre Elementary School in Santa Fe. The dedication of the teacher and students, lessons in the development and care of the garden, and the joy brought to the community will have parents and kids alike rolling up their sleeves and fixing to plant some seeds of their own.
‘A Seed is Sleepy’ by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long (Chronicle Books)
Intricately detailed watercolor illustrations and contemplative, descriptive verse make for an enjoyable and educational look at the world of seeds. A delight for the curious child and a wonderful companion to any study of the subject, “A Seed Is Sleepy” is both informative and entertaining.
‘If I Never Forever Endeavor’ by Holly Meade (Candlewick Press)
If you only pick one book from this list, pick this one. Meade’s beautifully illustrated, poetic depiction of a hesitant, young bird perched at the edge of its cozy nest, cautiously considering whether or not to fledge and fly is picture book perfection. Its message will resonate with readers of every age and would make a sweet gift for children, graduates, or anyone facing a big decision.
‘Heidi’ by Johanna Spyri
This beloved literary classic, first published in 1880, is available in every format imaginable and is an essential component to any child’s library. The endearing tale of young orphan Heidi, and the beauty she brings to the lives of all who know her, is appropriate for all ages in the original, unabridged format.
‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Candlewick Press)
Another classic, “The Secret Garden” is perhaps the perfect spring story, as its main themes include the power and beauty of nature and rebirth, not to mention gardens. Superbly told, “The Secret Garden” is ideal for the whole family.
A special tip regarding the last two: If you wish to enjoy these works as audiobooks, they are available for free via Librivox.org. Specifically, Kara Shallenberg’s readings of both “The Secret Garden” and “Heidi” are superb. This is a great option for a springtime road trip.
Happy spring reading!