For as long as there has been literature there has been the literary theme of spring. Whether metaphorically or implicitly, the season of rebirth and rejuvenation; fresh air and sunshine; optimism and possibility; bunnies and flowers has inspired writers throughout the ages. Nowhere is this phenomenon more delightfully manifested than in the realm of children’s books.
Here are the top
10 11 book picks to refresh your child’s library this season:
“Flip, Flap, Fly!” by Phillis Root, illustrated by David Walker, published by 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, published by Harcourt
Bright, modern graphics and simple text (great for beginning readers) bring to light these 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, published by 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, published by Alfred A. Knopf
This amusing look at a family camping trip depicts the joy of the 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, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt, published by 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. Illustrating the happiness that even a simple pot-ful of nature’s beauty can bring, “Flower Garden” is a sweet spring read.
“It’s Our Garden, From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden” by George Ancona, published by 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 teacher and students, inherent 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, published by Chronicle Books
Intricately detailed watercolor illustrations and contemplative, descriptive verse comprise this enjoyable and educational look at the world of seeds. A delight for the curious child and 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, published by 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, published by 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 latter two: If you wish to enjoy these works as audiobooks, they are available for free via Librivox. Specifically, Kara Shallenberg’s readings of both “The Secret Garden” and “Heidi” are superb. This is a great option for the springtime road trip.
Happy spring reading!