The passage of time through seasons is one of the first concepts imparted to young children, right up there with mealtimes or day vs. night; these external names and norms we assign to the turning of the Earth, while varying, have commonalities across the world. Though seasons are felt differently in different climates, the cycle of winter to spring to summer to fall is known far and wide. This makes it a ripe subject for great children’s literature. Picture books about seasons are enjoyable to large audiences. Concepts can be pulled in ranging from family traditions to the natural world. Teachers can address science topics while sharing highly engaging stories. Regardless of our upbringing or situation in life, we all have background knowledge in the changing of the seasons.
No matter what is happening in the world, the seasons continue to change, creating a backdrop for all our human triumphs and dramas. The books below celebrate either a single season or the magic of the cycling through the seasons that returns to us every year. Some lean toward nonfiction facts, others explore human feeling, but all reinforce that the seasons are both permanent and always changing. There is comfort to be found in the knowledge that spring will always yield to summer, that autumn draws us toward the end of the year, and winter never lasts forever.
Little Owl’s Snow by Divya Srinivasan
This sweet addition to the Little Owl series has Little Owl observing the changes in the world as trees change, snow falls, and animals snuggle up to hibernate. Especially appealing to the youngest readers, this is a gentle story that introduces the sleepy feeling of the onset of winter season.
Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
A gorgeous nonfiction celebration of life during winter, Over and Under the Snow takes readers right to the animal life bustling beneath the snow. Lovely illustrations contrast the silence of the winter forest and the busy energy of the tunnels and burrows under the snow, exciting readers with a sneak peek into a world largely hidden from human eyes.
My Friend Earth by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Francesca Sanna
This newcomer to the seasons picture book scene matches lyrical text with breathtaking illustrations. As our friend Earth wakes into her spring glory, readers are introduced to the many things Earth does for us, and are reminded that we, too, can be a good friend to her.
Summer Supper by Rubin Pfeffer, illustrated by Mike Austin
Simply scrumptious alliteration reigns supreme in this book that takes readers through the process of a summer supper—planting, harvesting, preparing, and eating! Bold graphic illustrations are eye catching and adorable.
Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter by Kenard Pak
Kenard Pak has several books in this series that celebrates the transition between seasons. Dreamy, peaceful illustrations are matched with simple, repetitive text, making this a perfect story to reinforce the meetings and partings that come with as time continues to cycle.
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frane Lessac
While this is a personal favorite for the Thanksgiving holiday, We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga takes readers through each season in the Cherokee year, using different languages, including Cherokee syllabary, to share traditions and celebrations important to members of the Cherokee Nation. Simple, heartfelt illustrations reinforce the changing of the seasons and the different things to be grateful for as the landscape changes.
When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for all Seasons by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Julie Morstad
Free verse poems shared as dated journal entries take readers through an entire year of seasonal changes. The natural world is on terrific display both through Fogliano’s wistful poems and Morstad’s charming illustrations.
Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall, illustrated by Barbara Cooney
Ox-Cart Man is for sure a throw-back, but I have been endeared to this book since I first read it as a child. The unadorned phrasing takes the reader through the year with a hardworking New England family as they tend their land, create their products, then head to market to sell it all, restock their provisions, and begin the cycle again. Each season brings another task, and the passage of time is marked with rich illustrations that enchant children and adults alike.
Hopefully you’ve found a picture book to share the wonder of the changing seasons, but if none of these selections have hit you just right, don’t worry. This genre of picture book is ever-expanding, as timeless as the seasons themselves. Happy reading!