The Book Basket: Spring
Books for March 2023
Thoughts of spring might be rolling around in your head recently, either out of necessity (it’s happening where you are!) or out of longing (it will still be a while!). Either way, here are some beautiful books to help you anticipate and enjoy the coming of spring in March. It’s not too late to think of ways you and your littlest friends might play in the dirt this spring.
“You can have as much earth as you want,” he said. “You remind me of someone else who loved the earth and things that grow. When you see a bit of earth you want,” with something like a smile, “take it, child, and make it come alive.” -Francis Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
Here are some of our favorite spring/nature titles:
The Lost Words (Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris): this is one of the most beautiful books I’ve seen. I actually know someone who cut it apart and framed the artwork in their home. The concept is simple: children don’t spend much time outdoors anymore, so they are losing the use of certain words (“acorn,” “heron,” and “willow,” to name a few). This book seeks to restore these lost words, using acrostic poems and gorgeous illustrations.
Uncle John’s City Garden (Bernette G. Ford, illustrated by Frank Morrison): lest we think that gardens and nature are confined to the suburbs and beyond, here’s a tale of children growing things right in the middle of the city. It’s based on a true story of an urban garden grown in Brooklyn, NY. I love the illustrations in this one, plus there’s a recipe for succotash at the end.
The Gardener (Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small) is a Caldecott Honor book that tells the story of its heroine, a plucky girl named Lydia Grace Finch, who goes to live with her uncle in the city during the Great Depression. She brings some seeds and plants some happiness wherever she goes. This one is so sweet!
A Year in the Big Old Garden and Beside the Pond (James D. Witmer, illustrated by Joe Sutphin) These are both charming little books of nature stories, characterizing the animals and teaching about the landscape. Each chapter stands alone, perfect for a short bedtime story. You might know illustrator Joe Sutphin’s work from his better-known series, The Wingfeather Saga.
And two classics you must consider in this category:
The Secret Garden: This novel is well above picture book level. But I can feel my hard heart softening a little bit every time I read a bit of it. It’s a brilliant story of human brokenness, redemption, and the role of a secret garden. “However many years she lived, Mary always felt that she should never forget that first morning when her garden began to grow.”
The Burgess Bird Book and The Burgess Animal Book: when my children were very young, a good amount of their science learning was done through stories such as these. They are a good course in ornithology and zoology all by themselves, but in the sneakiest, most delightful way imaginable.
In the practical department, you might want to peruse a copy of Roots, Shoots, Buckets, and Boots for ideas for child-friendly gardening projects and ideas.
A note on purchase links: I’m a happy supporter of independent bookshops, so the links I provide will almost always go to bookshop.org. For my local readers, I heartily recommend you buy them through our favorite, Goldberry Books, but you might have a shop closer to you. Of course, you can always find these selections on That Big Website That Ships Quickly, But Not As Quickly as It Used To, and Remember How They Sucked Us All In By Being a Bookstore to Begin With? I’m also a big fan of saving money and patronizing your local library. Happy reading!
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