Monday, April 02, 2007

Month by Month

I wrote an entry about time just a short while ago that focused on children's literature for supporting the teaching of time in the elementary school. My list included books about telling time and the passage of time, as well as all manner of books on the calendar. As the list continued to grow, I decided it would be wise to write a new entry to focus specifically on the calendar.

So, without further ado, here is a list of terrific books about the days and months of the year. (Generally there is no particular order to the books I list, though you will find today's offering is alphabetical by author.)
  • Parade Day: Marching Through the Calendar Year by Bob Barner - With rhyming verse and lovely torn paper and fabric collages, this book introduces the calendar year by featuring a parade for every month. The closing pages provide a bit of calendar history and some additional facts on each month. Step-by-step instructions for making a simple calendar are also included.
  • Around the Year by Elsa Maartman Beskow - This is a nicely illustrated book of poems with a series of selections focused on each month of the year.
  • Seasons of the Circle: A Native American Year by Joseph Bruchac - This illustrated celebration of the Native American year begins with Maliseet hunters following moose tracks in the snow in January and ends with a Lakota elder's winter tales during a cold December. An author's note at the beginning introduces the traditions and cycles that comprise many Native American lives. Also included is a chart listing the name of each month as it is known by each of three American tribal nations.
  • Eric Carle has a few books that look at days and months of the year. Be sure to visit the Caterpillar Exchange, a bulletin board where teachers and parents describe using Eric Carle's books in creative ways.
    • A House for a Hermit Crab by Eric Carle - When a hermit crab outgrows his shell, he must find a new one. Over the course of the year he not only finds a new home, but meets a variety of sea creatures who help him make it just perfect.
    • Today is Monday - Using the lyrics from a well-known song, Carle's illustrations show a different animal eating each food of the day. In the final spread, a diverse group of children sit down to a banquet while the previously featured animals look on from paintings on the wall.
  • The Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall - This Caldecott Medal winner, beautifully illustrated by Barbara Cooney, describes the day-to-day life of an early nineteenth-century New England family throughout the changing seasons. Though not all months are mentioned by name, enough are included to give children a sense of what happens throughout the year.
  • A Busy Year by Leo Lionni - On a snowy day in January, two mice mistake the branches of a tree for a snowmouse's broom. The tree changes month by month, watched over by the two. After a full year of friendship, the mice and tree rejoice together, looking forward to the next busy year.
  • Calendar by Myra Cohn Livingston - The months of the year, from January through December, are celebrated in verse and art in this lovely book.
  • One Lighthouse, One Moon by Anita Lobel - Here, in one book, are the days of the week, the months of the year, the four seasons, the basic colors, and an exciting counting adventure. Divided into three "chapters," the first section shows a different pair of shoes in a different color for each day of the week, the middle section introduces the months of the year through the adventures of a cat named Nini, and the final section provides a seaside counting exercise.
  • The Turning of the Year by Bill Martin Jr. - The activities of a young boy and girl through the year are chronicled in the rhyming text and illustrations.
  • Pepper's Journal: A Kitten's First Year by Stuart Murphy - One of the books in the MathStart series, the story of Pepper's growth is told in journal format. A monthly calendar appears on each double-page spread showing the progression of days, weeks, and months.
  • The Year at Maple Hill Farm by Alice and Martin Provensen - I am a huge fan of the work done by the Provensen's. This book provides readers a glimpse of life on Maple Hill Farm, where month by month the animals the animals sense the changing seasons and respond to the changes.
  • Turtle in July by Marilyn Singer - Singer presents a poem for every month, from a deer in January to a cat in December.
  • A Child's Calendar by John Updike - In this Caldecott honor book, the author presents 12 poems celebrating everyday life month by month.
  • October Smiled Back by Lisa Wesberg - Beautifully illustrated by Caldecott artist Ed Young, this book of poems provides a moving portrait of the months.
  • One Year in Beijing by Xiaohong Wong - In the format of a month-by-month journal format, Ling Ling describes Chinese culture and destinations, holidays and festivals, school and family life, and more. This is another book fabulously illustrated by Grace Lin!
I'll close here with a poem by Sara Coleridge.
The Months

January brings the snow,
makes our feet and fingers glow.

February brings the rain,
Thaws the frozen lake again.

March brings breezes loud and shrill,
stirs the dancing daffodil.

April brings the primrose sweet,
Scatters daises at our feet.

May brings flocks of pretty lambs,
Skipping by their fleecy damns.

June brings tulips, lilies, roses,
Fills the children's hand with posies.

Hot july brings cooling showers,
Apricots and gillyflowers.

August brings the sheaves of corn,
Then the harvest home is borne.

Warm september brings the fruit,
Sportsmen then begin to shoot.

Fresh October brings the pheasents,
Then to gather nuts is pleasent.

Dull November brings the blast,
Then the leaves are whirling fast.

Chill December brings the sleet,
Blazing fire, and Christmas treat.
If you are looking for even more poetry for the months, visit the page devoted to months at the Poets' Corner. Be warned, however, that many of these entries are for more sophisticated readers. For more child-centered selections, check out these songs and poems for months and days of the week. If I've missed some of your favorite books, please let me know.


  1. I'm on the lookout for calendar books either a) for the southern hemisphere (where it is midsummer in December) or b) places where it just doesn't snow at all. (We live in California, but my husband's Australian.) So far the best I've done is Alison Lester's "My Farm", which does mention some months, but doesn't do a whole calendar.

  2. Hi Elizabeth,
    This is a great question. Let me do some research and see what I can find.

  3. Thanks for this list of books. The kids will love these.