Lately, we have really been longing for spring. Longing to feel the warm sun on our faces, smell blossoms on the flowering trees, and feel the soft, cool dirt in our hands. We are so looking forward to spending time outside and seeing LIFE again!
What better way to await the arrival of spring than by enjoying beautifully illustrated, spring themed picture books? Today I’m happy to share with you two books that are absolutely perfect to enjoy while you wait for spring!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Many thanks to Raincoast Books for providing me with review copies of these books.
Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt
The first book, Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, emphasizes all the wonderful things that go on both above and below the ground in a garden. The book begins with late winter/early spring garden planning and shows step by step what occurs from seed through to harvest. This book arrived with perfect timing for us — just days before my girls chose and started their own seeds with their grandmother.
The book actually features a little girl gardening with her grandmother too! We loved the illustrations, especially the ones that show what is happening below the dirt’s surface. It showcases all the creatures in and around a garden, from birds to bugs, and includes both those that are the gardener’s friends and those that are foes.
Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt is written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. It can be purchased in Canada from Chapters-Indigo or Amazon.ca, and from Amazon.com in the U.S.
Over and Under the Pond
The second book is called Over and Under the Pond and it is written with a similar style and objective as the first, only this time it is pond life that is being highlighted. The child in this story is a boy and he’s rowing across the pond with his mother while wondering about the hidden world below the water’s surface.
There are some really wonderful illustrations in this book, my favourites being those that feature differing visual perspectives — the view of the bellies of fish and a turtle, and the bottom of the boat — as though the observer were lying on the bottom of the pond looking up. Ripples in the water.
There is also an illustration showing a perspective from above that generated a lot of interest from one of my daughters who initially thought the woodpecker pictured on the tree was upside down — because she’s used to looking at him from the other side! It was a great starting point for a discussion of perspective in art.
Over and Under the Pond is written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. It can be purchased in Canada from Chapters-Indigo or Amazon.ca, and from Amazon.com in the U.S.
Using Picture Books to Cultivate an Appetite for Nature
Both Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt and Over and Over and Under the Pond are great examples of how picture books can be used to inspire nature studies with children. My 6-year-old was searching for her nature journal just minutes after I finished reading them to her.
We thoroughly enjoyed learning about the ecosystems that exist in and around ponds and gardens, and we are excited to get out there and see how many of the creatures featured we can find in our own explorations! We’ve never done nature study at a pond before, so we are especially inspired to do that and to search for dragonfly larvae, tadpoles, and crayfish.
These books are both so informative without coming across as “educational” or textbooky at all. The illustrations are accurate while still being artistic. I think they would be especially great used with a group of preschoolers at the start of a nature outing.