Though the vernal equinox is quickly approaching to mark the official start of the spring season, the temperatures in New England during this last week of winter have been frigid. A late winter storm left ice and snow all over the ground, which remains despite sunny days. Cold winds have been keeping us indoors and doing a lot of reading.
In anticipation of spring, I switched out the girls’ bookshelf with early spring books. Though we have a ways to go before we will read about late spring vegetables, bugs, and butterflies, some of our favorite spring books are giving us clues (and HOPE) about what we should expect to see in the next few weeks. We can’t wait to welcome the magical season of spring!
Here are some early spring favorites introduced with a quote from each that we hope with melt the snow.
“Snow is melting all around. Shoots are peeping through the ground.”
Tree: A Peek-Through Picture Book, written and illustrated by Brita Teckentrup, shows a tree in all four seasons. We’re reading it with a focus on what will soon happen to the trees outside our window and the animals we will soon see.
Together, Willow and I found the page that most resembled our backyard. Though there is snow on the ground, we know that things are stirring. We have seen some crocus stems springing up and the daffodil sprouts peeking out from under the icy layer of white outside.
“Spring sun shines down to melt the sleepy snow. Wind whistles through last year’s plants, and mud sucks at my rain boots.”
One of our all-time spring favorites, Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner, tells what is happening above and below the ground during spring. The book shows the lush garden growing above as a counterpart to the organic activity below in the soil.
It is fascinating for the girls to explore the hidden world below the garden in this gorgeously illustrated children’s book. It has been a springboard for conversation about helpful bugs and worms and how they help improve our garden’s health.
“Trees, so bare and plain in winter, are dressed up for their yearly show.”
We are trusting author Carole Gerber and illustrator Leslie Evans in Spring Blossoms that soon the trees will be bursting with buds and colors. We love that the book describes and depicts the beauty and diversity of the blossoms of spring flowering trees.
We try to take an annual pilgrimage to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and New York Botanical Gardens in spring. This book is a handy reference for naming the beautiful blooms we see. Willow’s favorite is the red maple.
“We order seeds from catalogs and wait all winter long for spring to warm the soil and sprout the bulbs.”
Lois Ehlert’s Planting a Rainbow documents the process from dreaming to growing a garden filled with plants of every color of the rainbow. We ordered our own seeds from catalogs and have been waiting ourselves so we can definitely relate to this board book!
Winter particularly loves this book and watching the rainbow of colors grow and grow as she turns the pages. When we reminded her that our garden would have this many colors in the summer, she seemed satisfied. But she was more concerned that it would be full of cherry tomatoes for her to snack on. Her favorite!
Despite the fact that it feels and looks like winter outside, we do know, thanks to our spring books, that soon the trees will bloom, the bulbs will sprout, the sprouts will bloom, and the gardens will grow.
In the last few weeks, my dad has invited the girls to the farm to begin planting the trays that will soon be transferred to the greenhouse and eventually become the garden plants of late spring and summer. Gardening with my dad is one of Willow’s very favorite past times and so we’re excited to commence the official preparation for their spring vegetable and flower gardens. Since she wants to be a farmer when she grows up, this is excellent practice.
Willow and my dad used seed catalogs to decide which seeds would be ordered and planted for spring. Together they discuss the seeds that should be planted now (like Willow’s zinnia mix) and those that should be planted later, directly into the ground (like the sweet peas).
They work hard to plant the seeds in trays, water them, and label them so they can be transferred into the garden plot when the danger of frost has passed. This weekend, they planted kale, coneflowers, zinnia, and lettuce. Last week, they planted peppers, which have already sprouted!
For a sneak peek of what the fully-blooming farm will look like this summer thanks to our early spring preparation, check out the Gardening with Books and Blueberries for Us posts from last summer. You can also find inspiration to start your own garden in Christine’s Our Garden Starting with Seeds! Seeds! Seeds! post.
For now, in the wintry weather we are experiencing, we are taking comfort in the words of a special winter book that our own little Winter received as a birthday gift from her sweet friend. In beautifully illustrated Snow, by Cynthia Rylant . . .
“The snow is falling while the flowers sleep and the sun sleeps and the soft green gardens are waiting.”
If you’ve never read this magical book, you must. It is such a beautiful testament to childhood wonder, the passage of time, and the lasting power of memory. I’m going to admit I got a little teary during our first reading in the best of ways.
What are your favorite spring books and activities?