Across the north, our fabulous frogs will soon thaw like the snow and ice and emerge in wetlands and woodlands, croaking and chirping with all the joy of spring’s reawakening. This much-anticipated froggy season and this week’s World Frog Day mark a time of increased appreciation for our amphibian neighbors. It’s the perfect time to study frogs and to curate fun frog books in our home, school, and public library collections.
But why do we need a special holiday season for frogs anyway?
Oh, there are so many reasons…
As any kid will tell you, frogs are just plain cool – to watch, to hear, to touch and hold if we are lucky and very gentle. Children are naturally intrigued by these exquisite, small creatures that leap and hop and sing with gusto from the ponds and parks and treetops. Oh, those adorable bulbous eyes! Those bubblegum-bubble vocal sacs! That tricky way frogs spring away from us at just the moments we might catch them! Frogs inspire awe and make children giggle. They are also the perfect gateway species for young ones (and for all of us), sparking curiosity for the natural world and prompting us to care.
I am not a naturalist or herpetologist; I come to frog enthusiasm through my love of nature and the outdoors. But for me, frogs are transcendent. There is something absolutely mesmerizing and almost mystical about being out in the parks or on the trail, surrounded by a chorus of frogs. Like a million chanting monks, frogs can transport us with their calls, out of modern-day distraction to an ancient state of wonder and oneness with the living world.
On a much more mundane level, frogs are necessary members of the food chain. They are major mosquito munchers and tasty lunches for egrets and herons. Even more importantly at this time in Earth’s history, frogs are critical indicator species, telling us about the health or imbalance of our ecosystems. Where frogs are in trouble, we can be sure that water is imperiled and that other species will soon struggle. By celebrating and protecting frogs and frog habitats everywhere, we are actually taking care of the environment at large, and preserving species’ biodiversity, water quality, and our own human health.
So study and celebrate frogs this spring and every spring. Get out in the mud and muck to watch, wonder, listen, and explore. Foster a love of wild things and wild experiences in your families and your classrooms. And while you’re waiting for the spring thaw, get started with some fabulous books about frogs. Here are some of my personal favorites…
City Dog, Country Frog, by Mo Willems, illustrated by Jon J. Muth (Hyperion)
Frogness, by Sarah Nelson, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes (Owl Kids)
Dear Treefrog, by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Diana Sudyka (Clarion)
Frogs, by Nic Bishop (Scholastic Nonfiction)
Fabulous Frogs, by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Tim Hopgood (Candlewick Press)
Weird Frogs, by Chris Earley (Firefly Books)