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  • Writer's pictureMara Shanahan

Our Favorite Spring Themed Nature Study Books

Updated: Apr 30, 2021

The Spring Equinox is upon us this weekend and I always feel a sense of hope and anticipation and look forward to new growth, birth and transformation. I love to study the seasons with my son, taking note of the changes in the world around us and celebrating them. Though the astronomical first day of spring is this week, we'll likely not see many major changes in the world around us until perhaps even mid-April where we live.

My son was born in the 3rd week of April, and I was in the hospital birthing him and recovering from that birth for over a week. When I went in to have him, the weather was bleak and cold, the ground still muddy and seemingly lifeless. When I emerged a week later with my little bundle to go home, there were daffodils everywhere and a giant magnolia tree outside the hospital was in full bloom. What a difference that week made! Ever since, I've noticed that the 3rd week in April seems to be the week that, where we live, spring does its thing and springs!

As for celebrating the season - birthdays aside - there is so much to be grateful for! Longer days and mild temperatures give us more time outside and the ability to go exploring. Watching plants and animals as they grow and the world transforms and getting our hands dirty in the yard and garden are just a couple of the pursuits I mention in my Welcoming and Celebrating Spring post. Check it out for some great ideas!

Of course, we also love to celebrate with books! Below is a list of our favorite books about nature in spring, from picture books to chapter book read-alouds, that we can read over and over again and are beautiful additions to any library.


A New Beginning: Celebrating the Spring Equinox by Wendy Pfeffer

This book explains the astronomical definition and science of the Vernal Equinox in a very succinct and easy to understand way, and also describes how different cultures all over the world have celebrated the beginning of spring for millennia.

This companion book to Wendy's other seasonal books, The Shortest Day and We Gather Together, is unfortunately currently out of print, but it's a great addition to your child's library if you can find it!

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

This classic tale and winner of the American Book Award tells us about a woman, Miss Rumphius, and her life of adventure and living by the sea. She loves lupines so much that she makes it her mission to spread their seeds wherever she goes, blanketing the seaside with the purple, pink, and blue blooms, all in the quest to do something to make the world more beautiful.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner with art by Christopher Silas Neal

This beautifully illustrated book reads almost like a poem and tells the story of a little girl and her Nana taking care of their garden through the seasons. Describing the plants that they cultivate and the bugs, birds, and animals that help to make the garden a healthy part of the ecosystem, Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt is a trove of information, perfectly describing the world of the garden.

In the back of the book is a section with paragraphs describing each animal, bird, and bug, and exactly how they are beneficial.

Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni

This Caldecott Honor Book is a fun, short tale of an inchworm, who prides himself in his ability to measure anything and measures all the parts of different birds. Until one morning, a nightingale implores him to to measure his song, or else he will eat him! Younger readers will be delighted with the clever inchworm's escape plan.

Take-Along Guides - Birds, Nests and Eggs and Caterpillars, Bugs and Butterflies by Mel Boring and Frogs, Toads and Turtles by Diane Burns

Take-Along Guides are some of my son's favorite books, filled with information on the subjects at hand, whether it's types of animals, rocks, plants, or even animal scat (my son's very favorite, ha!).

I have chosen these three particular guides for spring, for obvious reasons, as we head into the season of birdsong, spring peeper song, and the explosion of life outside. Each guide has two-page spreads dedicated to each animal, with all the details specific to that species, as well as a section in the back with some fun activities. These little books are the perfect size to take with you, as intended, and even have a section for note-taking and a built-in ruler on the back cover for nature observations.

A Nest is Noisy, An Egg is Quiet, and A Butterfly is Patient by Dianna Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long

These books, just a few of many in a series of books by the same author and illustrator, are stunningly beautiful and informative. Each book gives its subject matter poetic descriptions accompanied by gorgeous and scientifically accurate artwork. These books are wonderful additions to any home library, for any age child.

Mother Earth and Her Children: A Quilted Fairy Tale by Sibylle Von Olfers

Illustrated by Sieglinde Schoen Smith and Translated by Jack Zipes

Written over a century ago in Germany, the folk tale Etwas von den Wurzelkindern has been translated into this English verse, accompanied by stunning images of a hand-embroidered quilt created by Sieglinde Schoen Smith depicting the scenes of this wonderful tale.

It tells the story of Mother Earth awakening her sleepy children in the spring and them busily sewing, creating, and cleaning the natural wonders of the world and rising above ground to bloom into the beautiful flowers of spring. It then takes us through summer, autumn, and eventually winter, when the children return underground to go back to sleep. This book is so charming and I'd love to have a copy of my own, but alas, this is another spine that is currently out of print. We have a borrowed copy from our library, but I will be searching for a copy to have for my own!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

I have been reading this book to my son since he was born, almost 7 years ago. I've read it so many times that I know every word by heart. This book (intended for younger audiences, but in my opinion for all ages) is a classic that absolutely deserves its spot on this list. Telling the tale of a newborn caterpillar, we follow him as he eats his way through the week until he wraps himself in his cocoon and becomes - you guessed it - a beautiful butterfly! This book has it all - it teaches children about nature, numbers, days of the week, healthy eating, and is an easy early reader. My son still enjoys it to this day.

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

This classic Newbery Honor Book tells the story of a spring pig, Wilbur - the runt of the litter - and how he was saved by a clever spider, Charlotte, and her weavings of just-right words. Some pig!

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

One of my favorites as a young girl, I love to share this novel with my son. The Secret Garden tells the story of Mary Lennox, a 10 year old girl who has come to the moors of Yorkshire to live with her uncle after becoming orphaned in India. Mary is left to explore the estate on her own and soon discovers not only her ill cousin hidden away in a room in the manor, but also an enchanting garden locked behind walls. The tale unfolds as Mary, her cousin Colin, and the secret garden all come to life, figuratively and literally, that magical spring.

I'm always on the hunt for new book ideas. What are your favorite spring books? Share in the comments below. Happy Spring!

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