With winter solstice past and the holidays behind us, we have officially entered what some may call the dead of winter. Colder days and long nights make the perfect combination for more time spent indoors. Time perhaps best filled with a stack of good books. Add in some layers aplenty, a blazing fire, and a warm drink at the ready, and these 10 books are certain to elicit seasonal charm throughout the winter months. And if you don’t live in a place that gets much snow, try building an indoor “snow” fort like we recently did — covered in white blankets and tablecloths. With a few twinkle lights and styrofoam “snowballs,” your kids will barely miss the real thing.
1. "Snow" (Ages 2-6)
Written and illustrated by Sam Usher
There’s snow outside! All anyone wants to do is go out and enjoy it. A little boy wants to do that before everyone else, but he needs to wait. Why? His grandfather is taking forever. While he waits, he gets his scarf, gloves and coat on. Finally, Granddad is ready. Together the two head off into the wintery landscape, arriving at the park for an adventure of gigantic proportions in a truly special book featuring an intergenerational kinship.
2. "The Storm Whale in Winter" (Ages 2-6)
Written and illustrated by Benji Davies
Noi lives with his dad and six kitties by the ocean. Last year he made a new friend with a whale; however, he hasn’t seen his friend for some time. On a wintry night, Noi’s dad takes the boat out for one last run. When he doesn’t return, Noi goes searching for him and discovers his boat abandoned, stuck in the ice. Unexpectedly, his whale friend and the entire pod come to Noi’s rescue. A heartwarming story for the whole family.
3. "Chirri & Chirra, the Snowy Day" (Ages 3-8)
Written and illustrated by Kaya Doi and translated by Yuki Kaneko
Sisters Chirri and Chirra cycle off into a winter wonderland. Soon they discover a door made of ice and venture inside, where they are welcomed by friendly animals who offer them a warm drink and an afternoon of gleeful games. Soon the girls join the others for a dip in the enchanting hot springs, perfumed with flower blossoms floating on the water. Each book in this series is truly a magical escape.
4. "If Winter Comes, Tell It I’m Not Here" (Ages 3-7)
Written and illustrated by Simona Ciraolo
An older sister tells her younger brother to enjoy the halcyon days of summer because they won’t last forever and when winter comes, say goodbye to eating ice cream cones and swimming. As the days pass, soon the weather starts to cool, trees turn and the family is stuck on the sofa. It rains a lot, and hot chocolate takes the place of ice cream. This book shows that while winter isn’t what one child imagined, it still has some worthwhile moments to savor. Besides, who can resist that title?
5. "Into the Snow" (Ages 3-7)
Written by Yuki Kaneko and illustrated by Masamitsu Saito
A child peeks out the window and watches the snow fall. After bundling up and grabbing a sled, he heads out into the winter wonderland. He breaks off a tiny icicle and slides down a hill with reckless abandon. After a happy and chilly day, he goes back home to enjoy a warm mug of hot chocolate. This book’s mixed-media illustrations radiate movement and light and are an exquisite rendition of childhood enthusiasm, especially when it comes to a snow day!
6. "The Tea Party in the Woods" (Ages 3-7)
Written and illustrated by Akiko Miyakoshi
Oh no! Kikko has discovered that her father forgot a pie meant for Grandma. The only thing to do is to go and search for his tracks in the snow. But is she following the right tracks? Not quite. Soon, she ends up at a unique party with a host of furry friends. This book’s charcoal illustrations make it a striking read.
7. "First Snow" (Ages 4-8)
Written by Nancy Viau and illustrated by Talitha Shipman
“Perky faces, scrambling feet. Snowflakes falling! What a treat!” Follow two puffy-coat-wearing children as they experience the jubilation of the season’s first snowfall. Sled in hand and their dog chasing behind, the youngsters greet neighborhood friends for an impromptu outdoor playdate. With joyful rhyming text to match the colorful images, this is an ideal storytime book. It’s worth noting that there is another book by the same title that we equally adore.
8. "My Winter City" (Ages 4-7)
Written by James Gladstone and illustrated by Gary Clement
A winter city holds stillness and quiet before the bustle of commuters. Bundled in coats, boots and winter gear, men and women wait for transportation; meanwhile, a city bus splashes sprays of slush and salt onto the sidewalk. Sledding hills abound in the city, as do puffs of winter breath from those going to and fro. My favorite spread in this book is the aerial view of cars and commuters sloshing through soggy streets. The scenes in this book will be familiar for anyone living in a large urban city.
9. "Sugar White Snow and Evergreens" (Ages 4-8)
Written by Felicia Sanzari Chernesky and illustrated by Susan Swan
As the woods glow with snow, join a family as they hunt for winter’s gold (maple syrup) in the woods of their nearby home. This colorful rhyming book is a terrific early concepts book and would make for a delicious breakfast-time read. Indeed, it may have you pining for an excursion to tap maple trees the old-fashioned way.
10. "When Winter Comes: Discovering Wildlife in Our Snowy Woods" (Ages 4-8)
Written by Aimée M. Bissonette and illustrated by Erin Hourigan
A family snowshoes into the winter woods that look empty, but hidden in empty logs and winding tunnels is an assortment of wildlife. From hibernating tree frogs to mice nestled underground and evergreen trees protecting chickadees, nuthatches and jay, the winter woods may seem still but are very much alive with the creatures that call it home. This book reminds me of my bygone winter hikes, snowshoeing the mountains of Northern Utah.