Young children love to learn about weather and seasons, and they are fascinated by the changes that each new season brings. As an adult, the changing seasons make me nostalgic and I find increasing enjoyment in the quintessential foods, smells, sights, celebrations and activities of each one.
12 14 (updated!) books which have helped our children become more aware of the weather and seasons around them, as well as the differences in climate between our region and the locations depicted in their books:
1. January Brings the Snow: A Book of Months by Sara Coleridge, paintings by Jenni Oliver
This books brings Sara Coleridge’s classic poem to life with beautiful, timeless paintings. It teaches the months of the year and changing seasons with lovely verse and art.
2. The Year at Maple Hill Farm by Alice and Martin Provensen
This richly illustrated book takes children on a tour of farm life through the months of the year, depicting the changing landscape and life cycles of animals and other creatures.
3. Linnea’s Almanac by Cristina Bjork, pictures by Lena Anderson
Join Linnea as she explores the birds and plants around her apartment home. She gives gardening advice for each month of the year, bird profiles, and pictures of her own adventures. This book has little projects and generous information throughout, but is presented in a natural story format so as to inspire and engage children to become naturalists in their own settings. We have enjoyed the May flower press activity.
4. Toot and Puddle by Holly Hobbie
Toot and Puddle are best friends who prove that opposites indeed attract and that true friendship survives time and distance. One friend prefers to stay home, while the other wants to see the world. The friends exchange letters through the passing months and changing seasons. Holly Hobbie’s illustrations are whimsical and yet realistic in their portrayal of nature around and across the pond.
5. Sunshine and Snowballs by Margaret Wise Brown, Illustrated by Charlotte Cooke
This book is written in rhyming verse and has bright and richly colorful illustrations which depict different types of weather from all four seasons.
6. Little Cloud by Eric Carle
I have loved Eric Carle books ever since I received The Very Hungry Caterpillar as a preschooler. This book inspires wonder rather than teaching facts about clouds. It’s the kind of book which will make you want to take your children outside to stare up at the clouds and imagine animals & pirate ships.
7. The Cloud Book by Tomie dePaola
Tomie de Paola’s The Cloud Book teaches ten different types of clouds and how to predict the weather.
8. A Tree is a Plant by Clyde Robert Bulla
We happen to have the original 1960 edition of this book and I love it. The illustrations are very simple – black, white, red, green, and a mix of red + green to make brown. It teaches about the life cycle of an apple tree through each season of the year and shows how the weather affects the tree’s growth and fruitfulness.
9. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
You need to own this book, especially if you live in a place where it rarely snows. Your children will learn what it’s like to play in the snow and what will happen if they try to save the snow for later by bringing it inside. You can even use this book as inspiration for a science experiment. Pull an ice cube out of the freezer and place on a plate. Observe how long it takes to melt. Or if you’re like me and creative science experiments don’t come naturally to you, check out Usborne’s Science with Water for more ideas.
10. The Happy Day by Ruth Krauss, Pictures by Marc Simont
My children love the simple black and white illustrations which highlight the yellow flower marking the beginning of spring. This book teaches about animal hibernation in winter and the transition from winter to spring. We have enjoyed canvassing our yard for signs of spring after reading this book.
11. Scuffy the Tugboat and His Adventures Down the River by Gertrude Crampton, pictures by Tibor Gergely
Besides the life lessons about contentment & humility which Scuffy teaches us, the storyline of this book teaches children about the changes which occur between winter and spring. Children can see the effects of melting snow and springtime rains as the river floods.
12. Play with Me by Marie Hall Ets
This lovely story told in the first person teaches children about the patience and gentleness required to truly enjoy the natural world. The simple sketches inspire the imagination and the repetition of verse enthralls little minds. My normally rambunctious two year old will sit still and wide-eyed as I read this story to him. It’s a perfect story for spring and summer.
13. The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
This book is one of my very favorites for preschool and Kindergarten. Following the story of one expressive little house who is curious about the world changing and developing around her, she ultimately finds the most joy living in the country where she can watch the changing times of day and seasons of the year. This one could really extend well to older ages too, as it gently explores the growth of cities and the changing landscape from an agrarian society to an industrialized economy.
14. Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall, Illustrated by Barbara Cooney
I won’t even try to improve on this perfect description from Amazon.com.
“Thus begins a lyrical journey through the days and weeks, the months, and the changing seasons in the life of one New Englander and his family. The oxcart man packs his goods – the wool from his sheep, the shawl his wife made, the mittens his daughter knitted, and the linen they wove. He packs the birch brooms his son carved, and even a bag of goose feathers from the barnyard geese.
He travels over hills, through valleys, by streams, past farms and villages. At Portsmouth Market he sells his goods, one by one – even his beloved ox. Then, with his pockets full of coins, he wanders through the market, buying provisions for his family, and returns to his home. And the cycle begins again.”
Which pieces of children’s literature would you add to the list?
What are your children’s favorite books about weather and the changing seasons?