A Bouquet of Books: 12 Books to Read This Spring

Spring is such a fickle season here in Houston. Some days, it feels like a gorgeous spring day with sunshine and bluebonnets for miles. Then the next day, it’s back to winter. Then the next week, we’ve skipped spring and gone straight to summer. Still, there’s nothing better than sitting outside on those rare spring days, sipping on an iced coffee, and opening a new book. Of all my seasonal book lists, spring was the most difficult for me to pinpoint a certain type of book I like to read. Ultimately, the books I selected for the spring reading list below are stories of growing into who you are, second chances, hope, and new adventures. As always, I’ve separated them out into Picture Books, Middle Grade, Young Adult, and a couple for us moms. I hope you enjoy this list of books to read this spring as much as I do!

mother and daughter sit on grass reading a book

Picture Books

by Bruce Degan

One berry, two berry, pick me a blueberry! Follow a young boy and his furry friend as they travel through Berryland. They fall in a cascade of blueberries, frolic in a meadow of strawberries, ramble through blackberry brambles. This sweet tale has become such a staple in our house, I cannot imagine anyone not having read it yet. However, I only discovered it about 3 years ago! It has since become my daughter’s favorite book. The simple, rhyming text is fun for kids to read aloud, and the illustrations are vibrant. Perfect for reading aloud after a spring afternoon of berry picking!

Miss Rumphius
by Barbara Cooney

When Alice is a little girl, she declares to her grandfather that she is going to do two things. First, she will travel the world, and second, when she is older, she will live by the sea. Her grandfather then tells her she must do a third thing: she must find some way to make the world more beautiful. She agrees, but does not know yet what that could be. We follow Alice, who grows into the lovely and spirited Miss Rumphius, as she sets out to do the three things she told her grandfather she would do. I just love this book. It encourages children {and adults!} to not only follow their dreams, but to look for little ways to leave our world a better place. And the illustrations are just gorgeous. Warning: be prepared to want to move to Miss Rumphius’ charming seaside cottage!

The Legend of the Bluebonnet
by Tomie de Paola

The Comanche people are experiencing a terrible drought. Their land and people are dying from the resulting famine. The tribe’s chief communes with the Great Spirits to know what they must do to end the drought. He tells his tribe: the Spirits say the People have been selfish. They must make a sacrifice of their most valued possession and scatter the ashes, and then life will be restored to the land. We all know the feeling of going to the park on a spring day, only to gasp with delight at the sudden appearance of bluebonnets. This story shares the Indigenous legend of how bluebonnets came to be widespread in Texas. If you’ve never read Tomie dePaola, you’re in for a treat. This is a wonderful book to read this spring!

Lola Plants a Garden
by Anna McQuinn; illus. by Rosalind Beardshaw

Lola loves the poem “Mary, Mary Quite Contrary”. She wants to plant a garden of her own! She and Mommy pick out the seeds and plant them. Now she must wait for her seeds to grow. She waters and waits. She weeds and waits. Until one day, she sees a speck of green shoot in the ground! This story is simple and sweet. Lola’s creativity shines through, as she works to make her garden a beautiful work of art. The text and illustrations work together to show how a seed becomes a plant, and how patiently waiting is a big part of growth. And the illustrations are so cheerful!

Dragons and Marshmallows {Zoey and Sassafras, Book 1}
by Asia Citro; illus. by Marion Lindsay

Zoey and her bug-eating cat Sassafras make a startling discovery one day. Injured magical animals are coming to their yard for help! They meet a sick dragon named Marshmallow, and they must work together to figure out what’s wrong with him. This is the first book in a delightful series about a little girl who uses science experiments to solve mysteries. Each book features a different magical animal, with a different problem to solve. Zoey models how to keep a scientific journal to understand how to record her research and document her experiments. The text is easy to read and understand, the pictures are sweet, and there is a handy glossary of scientific terms at the end. This series is wonderful for everyone!

Middle Grade

The Kate In Between
by Claire Swinarski

Kate McAllister is like any other 12 year old girl, trying to figure out her place in life. She recently moved in with her dad, while her mother chases her dreams several states away. When the school year starts, a group of popular girls invites her to join their group, and she finally feels like she’s fitting in. However, her new clique means cutting out her childhood best friend, Hattie. One day, Kate’s new friends begin to tease Hattie. One thing leads to another, and all of a sudden, Kate is being hailed around the country as a hero. But was she? This book dives into some of the struggles our teens face today: navigating friendships, the power of social media, how to stay true to yourself while also trying to fit in with your friends. It also explores owning our mistakes and finding hope in what seems like a bleak situation. I really loved this story.

A Place to Hang the Moon
by Kate Albus

William, Edmund, and Anna are three siblings growing up in London in the middle of World War II. At the opening of the story, the children’s grandmother has just died, and the children are not terribly upset about it. However, she was their only living relative, and now the dilemma is where the children will live. It is decided they will join a wave of other children being sent out to the country to live with foster families, in hopes they can find a family to take all three children. They are paired with family after family, facing cruel foster siblings, bone chilling cold, and hungry bellies. The one bright spot in the village is the local library, headed up by the kind librarian, Nora Müller. Could she be the guardian to answer their prayers? Reading this story felt like sweet sunshine peeking out after a long, cold winter. It is the very definition of heartwarming. Hand this to your kids, or even better, enjoy it together as a read aloud!

The Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Mary Lennox is a nine year old girl, used to getting her way and doing what she wants. She recently moved to England to live with her uncle, after the sudden deaths of her parents. Her uncle lives in a sprawling, mysterious mansion, and he essentially leaves Mary to her own devices. Soon, she discovers a secret, abandoned garden. Mary, along with two unlikely friends, works to bring the garden back to life, and, in the process, helps bring the manor and its inhabitants back to life as well. This story is a classic for a reason. It is a treat to watch Mary grow out of her selfish attitude, and bloom into a thoughtful young woman. And the descriptions of the beautiful flowers in the garden will have you ready for spring in no time!

Young Adult

No Good Deed
by Kara Connolly

Ellie is a 17 year old girl, and the front runner for a place on the United States’ Olympic archery team. But first, she has to qualify at a competition in Nottingham, England. When it’s her turn though, she is distracted by a monk wearing medieval robes. As she follows him, she is transported back in time to medieval England. There, she barely escapes the Sheriff of Nottingham {yes, that sheriff!}, and heads into Sherwood Forest, where she meets- you guessed it- Little John, Will Scarlett, and Friar Tuck. Ellie, using her brother’s name, becomes Rob of the Hood. Together with her Merry Men, Ellie uses her skills to help the people of Nottingham. But can she do that without altering the past? If you’re looking for a fun, gender flipped take on Robin Hood, look no further. Ellie is talented and clever, but still believable as a character. And I love Connolly’s fresh take on classic characters. Hand this to your teen for a fun escape on a spring day!

You Should See Me in a Crown
by Leah Johnson

Liz is focused on only one thing in life: getting out of her rich, prom-obsessed town and going to Pennington College to become a doctor. But when her scholarship plan falls through, her little brother reminds her that the person crowned prom queen also gets a scholarship. Liz, one of the few Black girls in her town, has spent the last four years trying to be invisible. What happens when she steps out into the limelight? Don’t let the prom queen element fool you into thinking this book is shallow. Under the surface, this is a coming of age novel that tackles race, homophobia, and being true to yourself. Perfect for older teens as they approach the end of their high school season.


Evvie Drake Starts Over
by Linda Holmes

Evvie Drake hardly leaves her house, and lets everyone in town believe she is still grieving her husband, who died the year before. Dean Tenney is a former MLB pitcher, who suffers from the dreaded “yips”: he can’t pitch straight anymore, and he can’t figure out why. He needs to move away from the pressure and attention to reassess. Enter his childhood friend Andy, who also happens to be good friends with Evvie. Andy suggests to his friends that Dean stay in Evvie’s apartment on the back of her house. Dean and Evvie form a tentative friendship, agreeing to stay out of each other’s pasts. But as their friendship develops into something more, they must both work through their struggles, and strive for that second chance, both in life and love. This was probably one of the most realistic romance novels I’ve read. And by that I mean, Evvie and Dean seemed like people I could actually know, with believable struggles and understandable hiccups in their relationship. This story is full of hope, a second chance at living life, for both characters. Perfect for a sunny afternoon at the park!

Day of the Duchess
by Sarah MacLean

Seraphina Talbot is the oldest of the Talbot sisters, nicknamed the Soiled S’s due to their less than proper reputation. Seraphina disappeared several years ago, after the dramatic demise of her marriage. Now she’s back, demanding a divorce from her husband, Malcolm, the Duke of Haven. Only he’s not quite ready to let her go. So he comes up with a plan: invite Sera and her sisters to his country home, along with several potential wives. The kicker? Sera is to pick out his new bride. Sarah MacLean is an absolute queen. Her romance novels always feature strong, smart, and sassy heroines, and Sera is no exception. And MacLean can write witty banter like no one else. I think you’ll love Sera and Malcolm’s slow burn, second chance romance story!

I hope you make time to read this spring, whether it be one of my recommendations or something else that’s been patiently waiting for you to pick up. Happy reading!

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Rebecca Slocum
Rebecca S. is a born and raised Houstonian; she grew up in Katy, graduated with a BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the University of Houston {go Coogs!}, and made a home in West Houston with her native Houstonian husband. She quickly realized that the chaotic lifestyle of the hospitality industry was not for her and soon found her calling in education. She taught while earning her masters in Library Science from the University of North Texas. Currently, she is staying home with her son, Thomas {2016}, daughter Charlie {2020}, son Zack {2021}. In her free time, she loves to read, write, run, and roam the world. While her roots are firmly planted in H-town, she takes every available opportunity to go on an adventure and explore historic cities, hike and run new trails, and, of course, try beers from every country.


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