The warmth of the holiday season has passed, and the short days and long, cold evenings of winter are upon us.
What better time to cuddle up with your kids and read a good book?
This month we share some titles that highlight the beauty of the winter season. As always, we think borrowing books from the library or buying second hand are great options, but we provide links in case you want to read more about the books or would like to purchase one online.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
You’ve likely read this classic before, or at least heard of it. Either way, it’s a great time to remember the joy of young Peter as he reminds us of the magic and wonder that is a snowstorm for a child. From trying to save a snowball in his pocket, to dragging a stick along to make tracks, and even watching the older children as they have a snowball fight, we can all relate to the simple but lovely experience snowfall can be.
Frozen Noses by Jan Carr, illustrated by Dorothy Donohue
The illustrations in this book are the real star. Prints of collages created with layered colored paper are something different and special from what we see in most children’s picture books. The lyrical text is enchanting, and the story follows three friends (and a dog) as they enjoy playing outside in the winter and coming in to warm up afterward.
Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, illustrated by Susan Jeffers
Frost’s poem, which has been loved for generations, is gorgeously illustrated in this version. Children will enjoy spotting the animals in the wintery woods; Jeffers brings the words to life in a way that allows children to better visualize the narrator’s journey. There is something uniquely enchanting and timeless about walking through a dark, chilly, winter wood.
White Snow Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin
White Snow Bright Snow won the Caldecott Medal in 1948. The extraordinary thing about this book is that is delights readers in following along with a town’s very ordinary routine. From the moments before winter, in which different people can tell a storm is coming, to the way a town looks buried in snow, and finally the way it melts away into spring, children will enjoy seeing the book’s characters and their experiences.
Animals in Winter by Henrietta Bancroft, illustrated by Helen K. Davie
This sweet nonfiction book teaches children about the different adaptations animals have to survive colder weather. Some birds and butterflies migrate, some animals hibernate, some store food ahead of winter. Some animals do not prepare at all but find ways to survive in the semi-barren landscape. Diagrams and illustrations bring the information to life.
The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader
The animals in this story are well attuned to signs that tell them the seasons are changing and a storm is coming. Another winner of the Caldecott Medal, the story introduces readers to many different animals in the woods, and shows how the deep snow after a storm affects their ability to find food. Two kind and generous humans make sure they have enough to make it through the winter.
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr
Yet another winner of the Caldecott Medal (1988), Yolen has created a tale that embodies the magic of spending time outdoors at night in the winter. A child and their father go owling, trekking deep into the woods in complete silence in search of owls. While this is the child’s first time doing so, they have heard about these walks from their older brothers and know they must stay silent and march on through the frigid air. At a certain point, the father calls out to the owls, and the pair are rewarded with an amazing encounter.
The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Jon Nelson, photographs by Mark Cassino
This book explains the formation of snowflakes in a way that is simple enough for children to understand, but factual and informative. Photographs of magnified snowflakes allow children to see the unique geometric shapes they can take. Nelson explains the different forms snowflakes can take, and how temperature and cloud moisture content affect these formations.
When This World Was Newby D. H. Figueredo, illustrated by Enrique O. Sanchez
One boy and his family leave behind their warm island home to live in New York. One of the many worrisome differences between his former home and his new one is the climate. A great story about the challenges immigrants face, the author uses the changing seasons to illustrate concepts in a way that young children can understand.
Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner, illustrated by Greg Hargreaves
Young Willy lives with his grandfather on a farm. When he overhears that his grandfather is sick and in danger of losing the farm, he decides to enter into the local dog sled race. He hopes to use the prize money to save the farm. Willy loves his dog Searchlight, but the two are inexperienced and face up against local racing legend Stone Fox. This book is best for children ages 8 and older; one of the characters dies, which might be too upsetting for younger readers.