Children can learn about the four seasons at any time of year. One way to do that is to start with picture books like these to spark further discovery. You’ll notice that many of these books talk about observing a tree throughout the four seasons. These books lead to a wonderful hands-on way to observe nature’s changes — watching a tree all year. I recommend keeping a tree journal with illustrations or photos that you can compare the similarities and differences.
As you observe the trees in your area, you’ll also want to notice the animals. These picture books also talk about what different animals do during different seasons. What are animals doing during each season? The book, The Squirrels’ Busy Year, can help get you started with this.
Older readers can use poetry books to inspire their own seasonal / nature poems.
Picture Books to Teach Children About the Seasons
The Squirrels’ Busy Year (A First Science Storybook) by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Richard Jones
Follow the owl and squirrels as they go through the seasons of one year, starting with winter when the squirrels are “curled up in their cozy nest“. Each season shows readers both the different weather and behavior of the animals. You’ll find this to be a lovely introduction to the seasons through the lens of animals.
Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson
Who doesn’t love an interactive picture book? The tree is bare, tap it four times and turn the page. Leaves! Tap it again, more leaves. Rub, jiggle, shake, knock, clap, and pat your way through the four seasons of an apple tree’s growth cycle. Fun and impossible to resist!
My Friend Earth by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Francesca Sanna
A personified Earth as a lovely, dark-skinned girl wakes up for spring. Captivating lush, layered illustrations and die cut out pages plus lyrical text intertwine to create a dazzling reading experience that celebrates the Earth’s seasons and her care for its creatures. “Under the white — the silent seed is cradled in the dark soil. Watching.”
A Tree For All Seasons by Maryse Guittet
What a fun tree-shaped journey through the seasons! Turn the page and see the tree in a different time of year. Lift-the-flaps to reveal creatures in its boughs.
Green on Green by Dianne White, illustrated by Felicita Sala
Strong on figurative language and sensory description about the colors and seasons make this not just a beautiful reading experience but a good mentor text for young writing. Sparse, lyrical language with evocative illustrations capture the colors of the seasons. “Brown the squirrel. Brown the mouse. Brown the trees around our house.” Absolutely lovely.
Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit: A Book of Changing Seasons by Il Sung Na
Enchanting illustrations and simple text show children what animals do in the winter season — migrate or hibernate, to start. Rabbit’s coat is white but it changes when the snow melts, becoming brown.
My Tree and Me by Jo Witek, illustrated by Christine Roussey
You will ADORE this book!! The tree is the girl’s best friend and confidante. She plays with the tree every season. Each page you turn, reveals a new layer of the colorful die-cut oval shapes. Filled with ideas for nature play, a genuine love for the natural world, and rich sensory images. “I am a sorcerer in the forest, mixing together my potion of earthworms, moldy chestnuts, and rotten leaves.”
Hi, Koo! by Jon Muth
Koo (a panda) explores the seasons captured in snapshot haikus. Author Jon J. Muth explains, “. . . haiku is like an instant captured in words — using sensory images.” If you read closely you’ll see that the 26 poems follow the alphabet. Beautiful. Will these poems make you want to go outside and observe nature?
my Broom awaits
When Green Becomes Tomatoes Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Julie Morstad
and i woke to a morning
that was quiet and white
the first snow
(just like magic) came on tip toes
Tree: A Peek Through Book by Britta Teckentrup
The tree stands tall throughout the seasons. Each of the tree’s changes brings new peek-through illustrations of animals and bugs in the tree’s foliage… until it snows. Bright illustrations and peek-throughs make this seasonal book one of my favorite read alouds. Added to: Best Books for Kids About Trees
Seasons by Blexbolex
One or two words of text plus graphic-style illustrations give readers and parents many opportunities to have conversations about the different seasons — the breeze or blizzard.
The Story Orchestra: Four Seasons in One Day by Jessica Courtney-Tickle
Not only does this story share an adventure about a little girl and her dog going through the four seasons in a day, it includes Vivaldi’s Four Seasons music clips!
Little Tree by Loren Long
Little Tree is scared to drop his beautiful leaves like the trees around him. When springtime comes, the other trees are bigger and have new, green leaves. Little Tree’s are dead and brown and he’s still small. Seasons pass and the trees around him grow so big that Little Tree can’t feel the sunlight anymore. He remembers when those trees were small like him. So he drops his leaves for the first time. And guess what happens? This allegorical story poignantly captures not just the seasons but letting go and transitioning into the next season of your life.
Winter’s Child by Angela McAllister illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith
You’ll be enchanted by the exquisite, finely detailed artwork in this beautiful winter story about a boy who loves the winter season and his new friend, Winter’s Child, who stays extra long with his friend delaying spring in favor of playing.
Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter by Kenard Pak
Hello starts out each page’s text. Hello, robins and cardinals who are ready to fly south. Hello, deer, whose fur is thickening up for winter. Hello, evergreens whose pine-needle branches “shiver in the wind while you sleep.” Slowly the illustrations shift from fall to snowy white winter and so does the text. Hello to frost and icicles. And goodbye, autumn. This is a wonderful cozy book to read by the fire with your little ones.
Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon
Whoa, this is HUGE — possibly too huge? (It’s at least 5 pounds!) Teachers and families could use this book for reading a poem a day as the title suggests. I do like the balance of female and male poets but am disappointed in the lack of diversity of the poets selected. However, it still does expose kids to poetry and that’s something. Poems capture our world and emotions in ways that give us new perspectives and connect very deeply to our hearts. And that’s why we keep exposing kids to poetry! (Resources for teaching poetry to kids here.)
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