Given that we live in a climate so mild that our girls talk about “going to winter” rather than winter being an actual season they experience at home, we tend to wait till after the holiday season to bust out winter books. It’s not like we need to read snow books while we celebrate the first snow or anything like that… But, we had a very cold weekend (cold for us, at least…) and I know many of you around the world have had your first snowfalls already, so I figured I’d share my updated list of winter books we’re loving with you all right now.
Now, you may look at this list and wonder why some classic wintery favorites didn’t make the list… Have no fear, they’re definitely going to have space on our beloved front-facing bookshelf after the new year! But, I’m guessing most of you already know of (and hopefully love!) Owl Moon, The Mitten, The Snowman, and The Snowy Day. (Sneezy the Snowman by Maureen Wright is such a favorite in our house that my girls can recite most of it even though we haven’t read it since last January, but I’m not sure I’d classify it as a classic like the afore-mentioned books). So, below you’ll find a list of some of our current favorite wintery reads that you might not know.
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bunny slopes written and illustrated by Claudia Rueda– This is an incredibly fun interactive book! Readers are asked to shake the book to make it snow, tilt the book to get the bunny going down the slopes, and more! You might also enjoy the rest of the books in the bunny series. Ages 2-5.
Little Red Gliding Hood written by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Troy Cummings — I just love fractured fairy tales, and this story of Little Red looking for an ice skating partner will totally take you by surprise! I love that Lazar has managed to include a ton of fairy tale characters from other stories as well. Ages 2-5.
Bear Has a Story to Tell written by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead– I love just about anything Philip Stead gets his hands on, and my favorites are always the ones his wife illustrates (hello, A Sick Day for Amos McGee!). Bear may be one of the kindest, most selfless friends that I’ve found in any picture book. I also love that this “winter book” isn’t too, too wintery that it can be enjoyed year-round. You can read my full review here. Ages 2-6.
William’s Winter Nap written by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Chuck Groenink — William is just settling in for a nap when he hears a knock on his door… Slowly but surely, in read-aloud worthy rhyme, William’s bed fills with friends… Until Bear arrives… Will William include this animal, too, or turn him away into the cold, wintry night? Ages 3-5.
Snow Sisters! Two Sisters, One Snowy Day written by Kerri Kokias, illustrated by Teagan White– A friend recommended this one to me, and it’s indeed delightful. I’m certainly biased because of having two daughters myself, but I could definitely see my own girls and their widely different personalities in these two girls! For anyone who actually does live somewhere snowy, this could also be a neat way to ignite interest in new and different snow-day activities. Ages 3-7.
The Tea Party in the Woods written and illustrated by Akiko Miyakoshi — With feelings of a new version of Little Red Riding Hood, Miyakoshi brings us the story of Kikko, who journeys after her father through the woods to deliver a pie to her grandmother’s house. But she follows a bear instead of her father! The illustrations here are absolutely fabulous, in black and white except for small spots of yellow and red scattered throughout. Ages 3-7.
Got to Get to Bear’s! written and illustrated by Brian Lies — This is a delightful story of just how far friends will go to help each other, even when the going gets tough. You may recognize Lies from his Caldecott Honor Book in 2019, The Rough Patch — his illustrations here are incredible as well. Ages 4-7.
Bear’s Winter Party written by Deborah Hodge, illustrated by Lisa Cinar — Though this was published in 2016, I didn’t know it until a few weeks ago… and it landed very high on my list of favorite snowy stories! You get to follow Bear on a journey to make friends before he settles down for a long winter’s nap, and it’s written so well that you really feel as if you’re right by Bear’s side. And these illustrations are so unique! Ages 4-7.
A Day So Gray by Marie Lamba, illustrated by Alea Marley — What happens when a “glass half empty” friend and a “glass half full” friend explore a wintry day together? You’ll find out when you read A Day So Gray, where one friend finds the winter day dull, boring, and lacking color. But, upon closer inspection, the other friend is able to find all sorts of color and detail on this day so gray. The friends can agree on one thing, though — the coziness of the fire, which might inspire you to snuggle up by the fire to read this wintry wonder! Ages 4-7.
Almost Time by Gary D. Schmidt and Elizabeth Stickney, illustrated by G. Brian Karas — Ooh, this is such a sweet story depicting such a sweer father/son relationship! The father and son live somewhere very snowy with lots of maple trees, so many that they even make their own maple syrup… But, it turns out that waiting for the trees to be ready to get the sap can be a very long wait, just like waiting for a loose tooth to fall out! Ages 4-7.
When Winter Comes: Discovering Wildlife in Our Snowy Woods by Aimée M. Bissonette, illustrated by Erin Hourigan — Winter seems so secluded, quiet, and solitary, especially when you’re walking in the snowy woods. But while you might think you’re alone, you’re really not! Join this family on their adventure through their snowy woods (and hills and ponds and more!) and find out just how many other creatures are around you, even when you think you’re alone. Ages 4-8.
Wait, Rest, Pause: Dormancy in Nature by Marcie Flinchum Atkins — I am so excited to add an informational text about hibernation and dormancy to this list! Children are so curious about what animals and plants do in the winter, and Atkins does a fantastic job keeping this book simple and age-appropriate, but still informative. Covering plants and a wide variety of animals, you and your young readers will learn all about when and why they might go dormant, as well as what they might do when they reemerge. Ages 4-8.
First Snow written and illustrated by Peter McCarty– Since snow is a relatively foreign concept to my girls (we have “gone to the winter” twice, but still…), we love reading about how Pedro experiences snow for the first time. Ages 4-8.
Before Morning written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes– Admittedly, this one makes the list more because of how much I love it than the girls’ interest in it. I always enjoy Krommes’s illustrations, and this tender invocation (with a little author’s note about wishes and invocations at the back) about slowing down gets me every time. Ages 4-8.
Snow Globe Wishes by Erin Dealey, illustrated by Claire Shorrock — What is a town to do when a massive snowstorm blows in? The worst storm of the year is upon this community, but never fear… They’re ready! The book most closely follows an interracial family of four through their snowstorm adventures, but we also see how the storm affects the community at large, culminating with a gathering of “neighbors, strangers, sisters, and brothers” in the center of town. Ages 4-8.
Bear and Wolf written and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri– Soft mixed-media illustrations perfect for the season, the kind and friendly sides of animals often depicted as scary and mean, and a bit of information about animals’ behaviors during the winter… So much to love about this one! Ages 4-8.
Blizzard written and illustrated by John Rocco– A story based on Rocco’s own experience as a 10-year-old during a blizzard, the humor and kindness mixed throughout the story make this one to revisit again and again. Be sure to check out the double-page-spread to see the path Rocco took from his house to the store! Ages 4-8.
A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story About Knitting and Love written by Michelle Edwards, illustrated by G. Brian Karas– A lovely wintery story of kindness multiplying and returning ten-fold! If you know how to knit, there are even directions at the back so that you can make your own “Sophia hat!” You can read my full review here. Ages 4-8.
Bear Can’t Sleep written by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman– You probably already know Bear Snores On by the same duo (also a great winter story, by the way!). Their newest Bear book, Bear Can’t Sleep, tells the story of how Bear can’t fall asleep at the beginning of winter and how sweetly his friends worry about him and help him. Ages 4-8.
Samson in the Snow written and illustrated by Philip C. Stead– As I said above, I just love Stead’s books… And this tender story of a gigantic wooly mammoth who makes friends with a little red bird and a tiny mouse is just as delightful as so many of his other sweet friendship stories! Ages 4-8.
Learning to Ski With Mr. Magee written and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen — We are pretty big Chris Van Dusen fans around here, and my girls find this ski story just delightful. I love that in typical Van Dusen fashion, this makes for a romping, rolling read-aloud story that we don’t mind reading over and over… and over. Ages 4-8.
Lines illustrated by Suzy Lee — We got this wordless wonder in a KidArtLit box a few years ago, and we love exploring it again every winter. It’ll inspire both storytelling and art creating, so you really can’t go wrong here! Ages 4-8.
Winter is Here by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek — We love the fall companion to this book, In the Middle of Fall, so I was thrilled to include the winter book on this list. Henkes and Dronzek give children a delightful introduction to each season and all that comes with it (both the good and the bad!). Ages 4-8, but absolutely perfect for younger audiences, too.
The Shortest Day written by Susan Cooper, illustrated by Carson Ellis — When a book is written by a Newbery Medal Winner and illustrated by a Caldecott Honor Winner, it’s bound to be great… and The Shortest Day didn’t diappoint. It’s a beautiful, lyrical celebration of the winter solstice, one that will likely spur deeper conversations and investigations into seasons and solstices. Ages 4-8.
When the Moon Comes written by Paul Harbridge, illustrated by Matt James — I have to admit that the appeal of this book to us is that it introduces us to a lifestyle that is totally foreign to us… Heading out in the dark to play hockey on a frozen pond? Drinking hot chocolate by a bonfire? Not things we do where we live! This was a well-deserved finalized for the Canadian Governor General’s Literary Award. Ages 4-8.
Making a Friend written by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Alison Friend — Sauer somehow manages to connect making a snowman to making a friend, and the result is a very relatable lesson in friendship, a friendship that all began with making something. Ages 4-8.
Brave Irene written and illustrated by William Steig — This one has been around sine 1986 and still deserves to be read each winter. Irene is an admirable heroine who perseveres despite pain, peril, and danger. While we cheer Irene on in our house, know that some sensitive children may be worried about her or worried about her separation from her mother. Ages 4-8.
When This World Was New by D. H. Figueredo, illustrated by Enrique O. Sanchez — Danilito and his family have just moved from the Caribbian to New York City. They don’t speak English, don’t have jobs, and don’t know how to walk on ice. But everything changes in that first snowfall, when the world becomes fresh and new. Ages 4-8.
Snowflake Bentley written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Mary Azarian — This one has been a favorite since my classroom days, when we studied the Caldecott Medal every year, and I love that my girls are now ready to read and listen to it with me now. This is an immaculately illustrated biography of Wilson Bentley, whose work photographing snowflakes led to many great scientific breakthroughs about snowflakes. Ages 4 and up.
The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader — Less a storybook and more an informational read about how various animals prepare for winter and adapt when that first big snow comes, this is the perfect read for children who are looking to learn a bit more about animals in winter. Winner of the 1949 Caldecott Medal, this one’s also a beauty to look at! Ages 6-9.
(Did anyone else notice that there are a lot of wonderful winter books featuring Bear as a main character…?)
What are your favorite wintery, snowy reads? How do you use books to usher in a new season with your children?