The Rite of Spring: Top Ten Books for the Season by Jill Bryan

Winter has been fairly brutal this year. While Minnesota hasn’t seen our usual snowfall, (we stand in solidarity with the Northeast as they thaw out) it has been brutally cold over the last months. During the fleeting days of seeming warmth you can almost feel the ground trying to breathe. If you listen carefully you can hear the slumber of winter wearing off. You can hear the Rite of Spring. The chaotic beauty of birds returning to bask in the sun, the buzzing of new life, vibrations of new growth and the washing away of all things long frozen in ice. In my opinion, there is no better way to welcome the warmth than with ten, make it eleven, titles that speak to the season.

Step Gently Out

Step Gently Out by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder

The use of purposeful and simple text coupled with the stunning photography in this book creates a sense of calm and quiet. It begs readers to listen to and observe the world. As the earth awakens from its Winter slumber the tiniest signs of life are all around us preparing for the warmth and renewed life of Spring.

the tiny seed

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

A tale of a small seed through all four seasons starting in Autumn. We follow the wind and a tiny seed to its resting place for the winter. In Spring the flower puts down roots and begins to grow. This book is perfect for highlighting the life that begins to grow underground even as the last snow is melting. The illustrations are vibrant and bold as we watch the tiny seed grow into a beautiful flower.

mama built a little nest

Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward
Illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Seeing a Robin is a sure sign of Spring in Minnesota. Mama Built a Little Nest is a wondrous book detailing the building habits and nests of many birds. A story paired with facts about nest building gives the reader a small glimpse into the home building that takes place all around us in Spring. Steve Jenkins’ illustrations are simply beautiful and turn just about any reader into a naturalist and bird watcher.


Mud by Mary Lyn Ray

With bigger than life illustrations that take us dabbling, splashing, melting, and squishing into the mud, this title is one that highlights one of the signature signs of Spring.

the curious garden

The Curious Garden written and illustrated by Peter Brown

This is a story about a boy named Liam and his discovery of a small patch of color. Liam learns to care for this patch of color and it grows into a sprawling garden. As the season changes into Winter, Peter must be patient and wait for the warmth of Spring to return. Any person who loves digging in the dirt and gardening will understand the anticipation Liam feels about getting back into the garden. Liam starts his gardening journey alone but the end of this book will leave you with a smile as the life all around him grows.

the gardener

The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
Illustrated by David Small

Set in the 1930’s and told from the perspective of Lydia Grace through letters back home, The Gardener is a story that touches the heart. Lydia is sent to the city to live with her Uncle Jim while her dad searches for work. While she’s there, her love for gardening takes over their city plot. Hoping to see Uncle Jim smile Lydia spends her days cultivating flowers, vegetables, and so much more.

duck rabbit

Duck Rabbit by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld

Is it a duck or a rabbit? Centered on two quintessential animals of Spring, Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s hilarious book is a must for the season. Whether you’re on the side of the duck or rabbit your perspective can’t be wrong.

storm song

Storm Song by Nancy Viau
Illustrated by Gynux

April showers bring May flowers. Storm Song is great story for when you’re stuck inside on a rainy day or maybe feeling a bit scared by all the noise of a thunderstorm. A short story filled with lots of rich colors and onomatopoeia it’s sure to help you ride out the storms of Spring from beginning to end.

water can be

Water Can Be by Laura Purdie Salas
Illustrated by Violeta Dabija

The first sounds of a babbling brook, drops of rain from the sky, or water lapping up to the shore of a lake is music to the ears in Spring. Water Can Be uses lyrical poetry and outstanding illustrations to show the brilliance and importance of water through the seasons. The combination of poetry and nonfiction text in the back make this an absolute must read and one that is perfect for Spring.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner
Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

A new release this month, Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, breathes life into the ecology of gardens. Kate Messner’s descriptive writing will leave readers with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the the community, both big and small, that help gardens grow. The author’s note and further reading section are a wonderful addition and resource to one of the best new books about Spring.

and then it's spring

And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano
Illustrated by Erin E. Stead

This last story in my top-ten is about a boy, his dog, and a garden. The detailed illustrations are remarkable and the text is perfection. “First you have brown, all around you have brown,” as we wait with anticipation and patience to see what Spring has in store for us.


Until the first true signs of the season make themselves known, these eleven titles will help us remember that the Rite of Spring is just around the corner.

Jill Bryan is a book lover residing in Minnesota. Her day job takes her into classrooms as a K-5 Instructional Coach where she works to pass on the love of reading that was given to her in elementary school. She can be found on Twitter at @bryansbooklove.