Happy first day of spring! It’s getting warmer, which means kids are ready to jump over (or into) muddy puddles, spot rainbows, and play more outdoors. With beautiful artwork and lyrical language, these Canadian children’s books will bring the joy of spring to you. Perfect for parents, librarians and teachers, the titles below will engage your young reader and teach them about the wonders of nature, life, and new seasons. From sunny adventures to new beginnings to stories about climate change, our list features authors and illustrators who showcase the ever-changing nature of our natural world.
Nature is an Artist
Written by Jennifer Lavallee
Illustrated by Natalia Colombo
Greystone Kids, 2022
Ages 3-6 RL: Grades: 1–2
For kids who love to draw and create, this captivating picture book fosters an appreciation for nature and features craft ideas to inspire young artists. A group of children follows Nature—the most inspiring of teachers—as they discover the world’s greatest art show hidden in plain sight. As they witness beautiful landscapes, stunning vistas, and unusual creatures, each child is inspired to recreate their own fine work of art. The beauty of our earth is emphasized, and Lavallee’s poetic language teaches readers to respect the ground they walk on. This book is a must-read for young children who are getting to know the world that surrounds them.
Written by Patricia Storms
Illustrated by Milan Pavlović
Groundwood Books Ltd., 2022
IL: Ages 3-6 RL: Grades 1–2
A joyful celebration of our daily companion, the sun, as it shines around the world. This fresh and colourful collaboration shows us the sun in this imagining of its travels across the sky, lighting up our gloomiest days, celebrating a bountiful harvest, and delighting in the diversity of life around the world. With beautiful illustrations of swirling yellows and oranges and reds, the drawings pair with Storms’ story perfectly as the sun travels around the world to light up the lives of all its friends. Young readers will be warmed by the sun’s wishes as they spread through the story, inspiring curiosity, gratitude, and the irresistible urge to step outside!
Written by Tiffany Stone
Illustrated by Holly Hatam
Annick Press, 2018
IL: 4-7 RL: Grades 1–2
This joyful book follows the life cycle of a tree as it grows from seedling to mature tree, and finally gives way to a new sapling. At every stage of the tree’s life, children are seen playing under its branches. Each season brings with it new sounds, whether it’s the chirping of birds in the spring or the flitter flutter of leaves in the fall. As well as a home for animals, the tree provides a canopy for a summer picnic and a perfect place to hang a swing. Most important of all, when old age fells the tree, it provides an acorn from which a new tree will grow. Colorful illustrations with lots of small details will capture the attention of young readers, while the lyrical text makes this an ideal read-aloud book. It can also serve as the perfect introduction to nature’s life cycles.
Sing in the Spring!
Written by Sheree Fitch
Illustrated by Deb Plestid
Nimbus Publishing Ltd., 2022
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 1–2
Spring is sometimes a long time coming. As the snow melts and winter slowly blows away, the earth begins its unfolding of new life and hopeful greening. Celebrate spring with this cheerful book about new life and new beginnings. The lyrical nature of this story creates a whimsical, yet realistic depiction of the ways spring shows up. Melting snow, sunflowers and puddles are all clues that wintery weather is behind us, and the “days of light begin.” Paired with Deb Plestid’s magical artwork, Sheree Fitch creates a vibrant book for a spring sing-along in the classroom!
Numiqtut Napaaqtut (The Dancing Trees)
Written by Masiana Kelly
Illustrated by Michelle Simpson
Inhabit Books, 2021
IL: Ages 5-7 RL: Grades 1–2
Numiqtut Napaaqtut, or The Dancing Trees, is a story about truth, respect and life. Thomas loves to tell stories. Stories about how skilled he is on the land. But when one of his friends grows tired of his tall tales, Thomas has to prove how skilled he really is. He accepts a challenge to spend the night alone in the forest. However, Thomas mistreats the trees around him by littering and tearing off the bark. And so, while Thomas sleeps, they dance a dance that will leave him with a very different kind of story to tell—if he can find his way home. As Thoms spends the night with the trees that have listened to him brag to his friends, he learns an important lesson in respecting the environment around him. Masiana Kelly draws on the beauty of the Northwest Territories and the wisdom of Elders to illustrate the importance of treating the land around us with respect.
Fresh Air, Clean Water: Our Right to a Healthy Environment
Written by Megan Clendenan
Illustrated by Julie McLaughlin
Orca Book Publishers, 2022
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 4-8
The themes of this book range from the climate crisis we currently face, to activism and sustainability. As we head into the spring weather, this book reminds us of the changes that are becoming apparent in our environment. Megan Clendenan and Julie McLaughlin teach young kids about their right to live in a healthy environment and show examples of children around the world taking action for a future that is theirs. Fresh Air, Clean Water: Defending Our Right to a Healthy Environment explores the connections between our environment and our health, and why the right to live in a healthy environment should be protected as a human right. The book features profiles of kids around the world who are taking action and important environmental rights court cases. Hear the powerful stories of those fighting for change.
Before We Stood Tall: From Small Seed to Mighty Tree
Written by Jessica Kulekjian
Illustrated by Madeline Kloepper
Kids Can Press, 2021
Ages 4–8 RL: Grades 1-3
In this non-fiction picture book, young readers learn about the life cycle of trees in reverse. From mature tree to young tree, from sapling to sprout to seed. A celebration of trees and forests, incorporating new research on how trees communicate using a network of roots and fungi that connects the forest and helps the trees to thrive.