Celebrate Spring with Lois Ehlert’s Book Planting A Rainbow

Although I am living, writing, and painting in the Ozark Mountains now, I was a Children’s Librarian in New Jersey for years before now, and especially during the spring, I miss my work as a Children’s Librarian.

New Jersey is certainly colder than the Ozark Mountains, and the snow and black ice and N’oreasters wreak havoc for several months there. Perhaps because I had always lived in the South before I moved to New Jersey, I shouted “Hallelujah” when spring was finally in the air there. After years of planning, I devised a yearly schedule for my library’s story hour themes, and I always began my spring story hours with Lois Ehlert’s Planting A Rainbow.

Ehlert is a collage artist, and she knows how to work miracles with cut paper and glue. But Ehlert’s book Planting a Rainbow is more than a folder of pretty pictures. Ehlert has written and illustrated several books, but in Planting a Rainbow, the masterful writer and illustrator divides the plant kingdom into groups of similar colors. On separate pages, the child is presented with yellow flowers, then orange flowers, then red flowers, then blue flowers, and then purples. For the color green, Ehlert showcases ferns and other non-flowering plants. Ultimately, the child has experienced all the color of the rainbow.

This book is brilliant, and I always read it around St. Patrick’s Day, when the concept of rainbows is also timely.

I always brought seeds and potting soil to this Planting a Rainbow story hour, too, and we planted little pots of flowers in styrofoam cups for each kid to take home.

I would always read gardening books for several weeks after I read Ehlert’s Planting A Rainbow, and when the soil had gotten very warm, the kids and I went outside and planted a children’s garden for the library. Spring was always a marvelous time for the children and me at our library.

I myself am an avid gardener. The above photo was taken in my New Jersey garden. The following photo was taken last spring in my garden in the Ozarks:

Watching the seasons come and go is a vital part of my life. I am currently writing and illustrating a very short book for toddlers about how a child watches her or his garden grow, and I am also writing and illustrating another new picture book about the seasons. You might enjoy a video that I created to match the words of Paul Simon’s song: April Comes.

There is something comforting about the ever-renewing property of nature, and to be immersed in nature is to learn to live in the moment. Everyone needs to learn to live in the moment–even children.

Because I don’t like the Scholastic Animation of Ehlert’s book Planting a Rainbow, I say this with hesitancy: But if you have Amazon Prime, you can preview an animation of Lois Ehlert’s Planting a Rainbow there. The music irritates me, but you can see the book — then order it.


I like most of Scholastic’s animated picture books, but this one does not appeal to me.