Spring Arrives with Children’s Books

The cover depicts three little white kittens looking up at the cherry blossoms above as well as the title, superimposed in yellow script against a blue sky. A bumblebee flies above them and a robin perches in an overhead branch.

By Eliana H.

Spring has sprung! Or has it? As Kevin Henkes says in When Spring Comes, “It changes its mind a lot.” But whether you’re certain spring is here to stay or want to get in the mood to welcome it when it is, we have books for you. Here is a collection of books to share with young children focusing on themes of spring, especially growth and change. For more recommendations, visit your local branch and ask a member of our staff. We will be happy to help!

The book cover depicts a man and a girl in the foreground, on a green grassy hill, with a white house with a brown roof, trees with yellow-green foliage, and geese in formation in the sky in the background.

Birdsong by Julie Flett

First Nations author, illustrator, and artist Julie Flett brings her tender story to life with soft, striking illustrations in this beautiful book. It begins in spring, when a young girl is moving with her mother away from their home by the sea to a new house in the country. As the seasons pass, she grows used to her new home and gets to know her elderly neighbor, with whom she connects over their mutual love of art and nature. As spring returns, the young girl finds ways to comfort her ailing neighbor and realizes that she truly sees this new house as home now.

The book cover is a photograph of yellow and white flowers against a hazy background of gold and green foliage. The title is superimposed in white over the photograph.

Bloom Boom! by April Pulley Sayre

Seeing all the different flowers bloom is many people’s favorite part of spring. This volume showcases large photographs of a variety of blossoms in all different habitats accompanied by simple, rhyming text. The end includes notes about blooms in diverse ecosystems as well as details about the specific plants (and sometimes animals) on each page.

The book cover depicts a child in red rubber boots and a yellow rain jacket splashing in a puddle as raindrops fall and land on the ground.

Red Rubber Boot Day by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Lauren Stringer

What do you like to do on a very rainy day? Simple text and acrylic paintings bring readers along with an unnamed child in this book, as rain pours down and different activity options are explored. Share this with little ones and start a discussion about favorite things to do in different kinds of weather.

The cover depicts an older woman in a lavender traditional Japanese kimono, seated on the ground with a young girl in yellow pants, white top, and rose sweater. A branch with cherry blossoms hangs above them, with the title in rose-colored script.

Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms by Robert Paul Weston, illustrated by Misa Saburi

Sakura, named for the cherry blossoms she loves enjoying with her grandmother, has to move to America with her parents and leave all that she knew behind. Told in a series of tanka poems, a traditional Japanese poetry form similar to haiku but with two additional lines, this story follows Sakura as she becomes accustomed to her new life. Along the way, Sakura finds new friends and unexpected joys in this place so different from her former home.

The cover depicts a white rabbit against a background of green hills, with a budding sunflower to the left and a sunflower in full bloom to the right. The larger flower has a ladybug on one of the leaves.

What Will Grow? by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Susie Ghahremani

Spring is a time when many of us become especially aware of the life cycles around us, as we can witness much of the change and growth happening. In this book, bright illustrations with friendly creatures accompany short, descriptive text on each page, which includes the title question followed by the answer. Some pages fold out, down, or up to show a larger plant, and notes at the end offer simple instructions for planting different kinds of seeds, along with an overview of the life cycle from seed to plant.

The book cover illustrates two children caught in the wind, one clutching a red cap and one covering ears with hands, as the wind blows leaves around them.

Wind by Carol Thompson (also available in a Spanish edition, Viento)

Blustery days are a sure sign of spring’s arrival. This simple board book uses line drawings with lots of movement to show young children experiencing wind. The sensory experience of a windy day is highlighted with a range of descriptive words, ending with the final quiet as the wind dies down. Other titles in the series explore different types of weather with Rain, Snow, and Sun (available in Spanish as Lluvia, Nieve, and Sol).

Eliana is a Children’s Research Specialist and Instructor at HCLS Elkridge Branch. She loves reading, even if she’s slow at it, and especially enjoys helping people find books that make them light up. She also loves being outside and spending time with friends and family (when it’s safe).

DIY Tools for Spring Needs

The blue Hi circle from the Library's logo lays on the floor surrounded by tools and books from the DIY collection.

by Eric L.

I like all the seasons, I like something beginning, then I grow tired as it persists, and I then I enjoy the start of something different. Autumn is just barely my favorite season. I even love the winter, as well, and then I’m rather happy when it comes to end. (I’m thankful it’s not winter forever, that would be pretty bleak)

I don’t want to get overly philosophical or trite about it, but the rebirth and renewal of spring is a wonderful time of year. Observing the daily greening of nature just makes me feel happy, it is my favorite color.

That said, you may look outside and see your yard, large or small, and it may look a bit drab in early spring. Moreover, there is likely debris in your beds, garden, or yard (e.g., sticks, leaves). I’ll be honest when I was younger, had less patience, and “better” things to do, I used dislike yard work. However, I’ve come to embrace the relaxing nature of yard work, and perhaps the completed product. Keep in mind, there really isn’t a deadline, just pick a nice sunny day and get out there and take it on at your own pace.

The library has so many great tools to lend you (for free!) at the Elkridge DIY Education Center to get most of your outdoor jobs complete. Anyone 21 or older who lives, works, or attends school in Maryland may apply for an HCLS DIY library card at the branch.

Leaf and tine rakes will help you get all the aforementioned yard debris up. We have cordless blowers, so perhaps you can rake less. You can borrow numerous varieties of manual trimmers, tree limb saws, and tree pruners to get all those bushes and trees in shape. We’ll even lend you an extendable (up to 14 feet) pole trimmer to get those high limbs. The battery powered electric hedge trimmers are just wonderful (I’ve literally “cut the cord” on the other style). We even have battery powered string trimmers, if you’d like to clear a small area, or just trim some grass or weeds. You can borrow a variety of shovels for the bushes, flowers, plants, or trees you’d like to plant, replant, or dig up.

I would invest in some garden gloves, or you may just want to literally get your hands dirty, that’s your choice. And, so many other great tools to lend. I’d recommend you stop by, chat with us, and see what we have to offer.

Happy spring!

Eric is a DIY Instructor and Research Specialist at the Elkridge branch. He enjoys reading, films, music, doing nearly anything outside, and people.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Close up of lily of the valley flowers, white bells, green stems and a dark background.

by Ann H.

With the Library’s help, of course! The Enchanted Garden celebrates its 10th season this coming spring, during which the garden and the gardeners have grown! We’ve had challenges to learn from and victories to savor. Together they position us well for our best season yet.

While the garden rests under a blanket of snow, this gardener dreams! Spring conjures up visions of colorful blooms, warm sunshine, plentiful rain, and rich soil. New garden catalogs, books, and now webinars spark grand ideas and plans. I am eager to get my hands in the soil and nurture all the plants and wildlife (not bunnies!) that create our abundant garden.

Visitors to the Enchanted Garden can expect to be wowed by the tried and true as well as something new.

Here’s what you can look forward to:
• An expanded Edible Landscape that combines flowers, herbs, and vegetables lovely enough for your front yard.

• A traditional Native American garden named The Three Sisters featuring corn, beans, and squash.

• Companion planting pairings to help plants get the nutrients they need, fend off pests, attract pollinators, and contribute to a healthy ecosystem.

• Container gardens showcasing vegetables, herbs, and flowers for small spaces.

• 500 pounds (fingers crossed!) of food raised for the Howard County Food Bank.

• A healthy environment that provides for people and pollinators without the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides.

Ambitious plans require many helping hands. We look forward to the return of volunteers, teens, tweens, and children to our Enchanted Garden. Stay tuned for classes and events to be offered all season long!

Ann is a Master Gardener and the Enchanted Garden Coordinator at the HCLS Miller Branch, where she has worked for many years. You can find her smiling in the garden and sharing her passion for plants, nature, and our community.

Spring is for Gardening

The cover depicts a garden of flowers, vines, and strawberries in bright primary and secondary colors, with birds, a butterfly, a frog, a ladybug, and a bee enjoying the vegetation.

By Laci R.

Spring is here once again – and you know what that means? It’s the perfect time to share these wonderful gardening books with the children in your life. Gardening is a passion of mine for many reasons. It’s become a reliable place of peace and comfort, I get to see a variety of pollinator friends, and I have a permanent seat in a never-ending classroom. I like to encourage others not only to find a way to connect to nature but to look into all the methods and styles of gardening. My garden started with two or three potted plants. Over the past couple of years, my container deck garden has transformed into a whimsical fairytale oasis.

The Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen
This story reminds us that our imagination can bring just as much wonder into our lives as anything we experience in the physical world. Join this adorable grandfather and granddaughter as they bring life into the most beautiful imaginary garden. As they paint- brick walls are built for vining plants to climb, crocuses are popping up as the first sight of Spring, and a robin eats a worm for lunch. Later, the granddaughter is left to care for the garden while her grandfather is away on vacation, and she’s determined to make him proud. Imaginary or not, gardens require hard work and a whole lot of love.

Pair With: My Garden by Kevin Henkes (also available as an audiobook on CD)
This book reminds me of Alice in Wonderland as she sits amongst the flowers and describes her perfect world. While the flowers in this book won’t talk with you for hours, they do change colors just by thinking about it. Join an imaginative little girl as she tells you all about her dream garden – including a jellybean bush, invisible carrots, and glowing lantern strawberries.

A Peaceful Garden by Lucy London
Join these two feline friends as they prepare, plant, and tend to their peaceful garden. This book is a great introduction to the joys of gardening through a simple yet sweet story that walks you through what the process might look like to get ready for your own garden. Throughout, you’ll see garden dwellers making an appearance, some that a lot of people try to deter from their space. This peaceful garden is all about making sure everyone knows they’re welcome and cared for. What will you grow in your peaceful garden?

The cover depicts a rooftop garden with a diverse group of people working to plant in the soil. The cityscape is in the background against a sky of oranges and yellows.



Thank You, Garden by Liz Scanlon
The illustrations show a diverse community of children and neighbors working together on a city garden. Through rhyme, you learn about what goes into making a garden so lovely – including the times that call for being silly and playing in water from the hose. This book does a great job of showing the rewards of hard work. While the text isn’t abundant in this story, the artwork tells you more than words ever could.

Pair with: Fox’s Garden by Princesse Camcam
This wordless picture book utilizes mixed media in a dreamy way that will certainly spark a fulfilling discussion. It’s Winter, and Fox is looking for a safe and cozy place to have her pups after being chased out of a village. She comes across a greenhouse and nestles in. Soon, Fox and her pups are greeted by a young boy who gently places a basket of food on the ground before leaving them be. Fox and her pups repay the favor with a beautiful “thank you” waiting to be found in the boy’s bedroom when he wakes the next morning.

The cover depicts a boy and a black cat in a dense garden of flowers and tropical plants, in shades of blue, green, yellow, and mauve.


Tokyo Digs a Garden by Jon-Erik Lappano
Tokyo lives in a small house between giant buildings. Skyscrapers and highways hold the space where hills and trees used to be. Tokyo is determined to help his grandfather have a garden despite the city “eating up the land” years ago. He meets an old woman who gifts him three beans that will become whatever is imagined of them during planting time. What happens next is a beautiful and fast-paced adventure showing how nature behaves in a city. Animals replace cars on the roads and streets become rivers. Will city life and wildlife be able to co-exist? This book is a thoughtful portrait of environmentalism and imagination. At first, this story might seem familiar – beans that you can wish on. I promise you’re in for a treat with this modern story that feels classic.

Florette by Anna Walker
Mae moves to a new home in the city and is forced to leave her beloved garden behind. Once there, Mae starts to realize just how empty this new house feels without a garden to play in and butterflies to chase. She tries to recreate the wonder by drawing and painting flowers on the stacks of boxes filling every room. Realizing she has to search a bit further, Mae sets out on an adventure and finds a lush green botanical shop… but it’s closed. She waits, but the door never opens. In the distance, there’s a small green sprout in a crack between the building and sidewalk where Mae rescues her very own piece of the forest. Is there room for a garden in the city, after all?

Gardening for Beginners by Emily Bone
Learning any new skill can be intimidating at first. This book is an excellent resource for any age and especially perfect for developing a new skill alongside the children in your life. I learned a great deal from this book when I first started gardening and was overwhelmed by information. This book has an easy-to-follow page design, and there is also a breakdown of how to interpret each section of the page in the beginning of the book. The visual appeal of this book makes the information more digestible and easier to retain.

Pair with: Flowers by Gail Gibbons
Gail Gibbons is a favorite for a reason. This book is no exception for anyone interested in learning about flowers. It covers the basics of flower parts, growth, seed travel, pollination, and the various ways flowers are categorized.

I hope this assortment of gardening books brings some green, inspiration, and curiosity into your home.  Gardening is for everyone and doesn’t have one look or motivating factor. I challenge you to grow something this year – whether it’s your family’s favorite tomato or melon, flowers for our pollinator friends, or your imagination.

Laci is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at HCLS. They love a wide variety of music, spending time in the garden, Halloween, cats, and crafting. Their “to read” list is always full of graphic novels and picture books.

Let’s Grow Potatoes!

The photograph depicts two hands in the sunlight holding two small seed potatoes with eyes on them.
Enchanted Garden Coordinator Ann holds two seed potatoes.

By Ann H.

Three cheers for the arrival of spring! I am ready to embrace a new season full of hope and fresh, local vegetables. Cool nights, sunshiny days, and plenty of rain signal the right time to plant cool-season crops. First on my list this year are potatoes!

Potatoes are a great family garden project. They come in an assortment of colors, they are easy to grow and as much fun as a treasure hunt to harvest. Sunshine and timing are the first considerations for growing potatoes. You must have a spot that receives six or more hours of sunshine a day. Potatoes should be started from now until early May. Don’t delay! You’ll have little success once the temperatures rise in summer.

Growing potatoes in a container is a good solution for those of us who want to grow food, but are short on space or new to gardening. Containers could be 5 gallon or larger buckets, grow bags, or a large fabric or strong plastic bag that drains. The larger the container the more potatoes you’ll grow. This year I’m experimenting with growing potatoes in a burlap sack. Our friends at Orinoco Coffee Roasters donated some burlap coffee sacks to the Enchanted Garden. They are selling burlap sacks to raise money for the Howard County Food Bank.

Potato plants start with seed potatoes. Seed potatoes are really tubers with eyes or buds. Those buds are the start of new potato plants. Give them soil, water, and the right conditions and you’ll be harvesting potatoes in three to four months. You can purchase seed potatoes locally where you would buy seeds, or you can order them online. Don’t be tempted to try grocery store variety potatoes. Most of those have been inoculated to prevent root growth. You might see eyes on grocery store potatoes, but rarely roots.

Potatoes are filled with antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins. You can prepare them mashed, roasted, fried, or in other creative ways. You can add them to salads, top them with almost anything for a main course, or turn them into latkes. Potatoes store well and feed many. Don’t you want to grow potatoes? To try this project at home, check out my video tutorial that explains all the steps.

Burlap bags: https://www.orinococoffeeandtea.com/product/green-bean-burlap-bag/

For additional information and inspiration, please check out these HCLS resources:

Adult collection:

The Complete Book of Potatoes: What Every Grower and Gardener Needs to Know by Hielke De Jong

Children’s collection:

George Crum and the Saratoga Chip by Gaylia Taylor, illustrated by Frank Morrison (also available as an ebook from Libby/OverDrive)

Ann joined the Miller HCLS staff as the Enchanted Garden Coordinator and Instructor in 2012. When not gardening you’ll find her reading, cooking, and exploring trails in the Patapsco River Valley with her husband and dog.

Gardening Delights

A small clump of bright red strawberries still on the stem hangs over the edge of the weathered wood of a garden box.

by Ann Hackeling.

Mention gardening and I smile. Gardening lifts my spirits and keeps me grounded at the same time. I like the feel of damp-crumbly soil, I like to see and imagine the zillions of creatures working together below ground to support life above ground. I feel thankful when new shoots burst through the soil and reach for the sky. My heart warms when I observe birds, bees, and butterflies visit the banquet table I prepare with them in mind.

Gardening makes me smile because I can play a small part in nurturing goodness and beauty from the earth. What I miss the most about the Enchanted Garden is sharing my joy with others. For the past eight years spring meant reconnecting with volunteers and the community in the
Enchanted Garden. My mornings were filled planting, weeding, watering, turning compost… with the help of fellow gardeners and in the company of library visitors. What a treat it was to share that first picked strawberry or witness a bee pollinate a tomato, together.

I am thrilled to be the Enchanted Garden Coordinator and can’t wait to see you in the garden. Until then, I hope you enjoy my On Demand Learning videos, available on the Library’s YouTube channel.

You can also find free online resources available via the Library’s website. You just need a Library card number and PIN. If you don’t have one, you can register for a temporary digital account.

Available to read as an eBook on RB Digital Books: 
Living with Nature Underfoot by John Hainze
Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy
The Intelligent Gardener by Steve Solomon
Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life by Marta McDowell
The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

And there’s a couple of great magazines in Press Reader: 
Organic Gardener Magazine
Kids Go Gardening,
Kitchen Garden

and in RB Digital Magazines: 
Birds and Blooms
Mother Earth News
Rodale’s Organic Life

Ann is a Master Gardener and the Enchanted Garden Coordinator at the HCLS, where she has worked for HCLS for eight years. You can find her smiling in the garden and sharing her passion for plants, nature, and our community.