As the days get shorter and the weather begins to get a bit nippy, take the time to discuss the changing seasons with your children. Kids love to learn about things they can see, so this is the perfect time to share a book and then expand the learning by taking a walk around your neighborhood. Here are a few of my favorite books on the seasons. Some of these titles are specific to autumn or November, but many explore the entire circle of the seasons.
Autumn by Mary Pat Finnegan is part of a four book series about seasons. They are found in the non-fiction area at the Aurora Public Library but are very appropriate for children as young as preschool.
Of these two books about the coming of winter, Winter’s Coming by Pat Thornhill is better for younger kids and Winter is Coming by Tony Johnston is better for older kids. Johnston’s picture book features exquisite illustrations by Jim LaMarche.
The next two books give very simple explanations of how Earth’s rotation causes the seasons.
Poetry is a fun way to explore the changing seasons!
Long Night Moon by Cynthia Rylant and Thirteen Moons on Turtle’s Back by Joseph Bruchac both use the Native American practice of naming each full moon as the structure for a book about the seasons. The moon names used varies by tribe; you can find a list at American Indian Moons.
Perhaps as a family, you could track the times for sunrise and sunset during a month. This information is available on the ten-day forecasts on www.weather.com. Just keep in mind that these are official times and the way sunrise and sunset actually appear at your house can vary depending on the location of your house and weather conditions. I’ll have a book of seasonal poems at the desk in the children’s room at the Aurora Public Library, so stop by and I’ll be happy to share a poem with you!
Spring is a wonderful time to explore nature with your children! The warmer weather allows you to get up close to buds and sprouts and even squishy mud. In addition to these picture books, you might try some of our non-fiction books about why we have seasons (Sunshine Makes the Seasons by Franklyn Branley) or gardening (Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots by Sharon Lovejoy) or weather (Weather Words and What They Mean by Gail Gibbons).
I’ve written before about using art as a “hook” to draw reluctant readers into books. As you share these books, take a look at all the different art styles used by the illustrators. You can usually find a small note on the back side of the title page that identifies the art media. You might even be inspired to try creating some original art work with your kids.
And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano is all about anticipating seeds sprouting through the ground as the soil warms. For the illustrations, Caldecott winning artist Erin Stead created delicate pictures using wood block printing along with colored pencils. Spring Blossoms by Carole Gerber is less of a story and more of a stroll through a glade filled with flowering trees. The beautiful illustrations by Leslie Evans use a mixture of linoleum printing, watercolors and collage.
Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms by Julie Rawlinson shows the beauty of the season in pastel illustrations by Tiphanie Beeke. It’s Spring by Linda Glaser discusses lots of things that happen in nature with the coming of Spring and includes suggestions for hands-on activities. Susan Swan created the illustrations with a combination of cut paper and painting. This is part of a 4 book series about the seasons, so grab another Linda Glaser book when the season changes again.
Skunk’s Spring Surprise, written by Leslea Newman and illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev has amazingly detailed illustrations that are reminiscent of the artwork of the late Richard Scarry. Although author Kevin Henkes often illustrates his own books, When Spring Comes features acrylic paintings by Laura Dronzek. Henkes and Dronzek also collaborated on Birds and Oh!.
Sharing the Seasons: a Book of Poems, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins is a book you’ll want to return to many times. Prepared to be awed by the glowing illustrations by graphic design artist David Diaz.