Winter Books and Activities for Kids
We are in the midst of a blizzard so it made sense to pull out all our winter books as we are trapped inside for two days. I’m not a fan of winter themed books. You know, the books that are tagged as winter and are usually boring with a lot of hibernation going on.
I’d rather read a book that just happens to include winter but has a way of inveigling its way into my mind and heart. Books you remember long past when winter is over. These books do that for me. I remember some from my own childhood. Others have special associations. What are your favorite winter books? Please share!
Favorite Winter Books From Readers
Thank you so much to readers who offer up their very favorite winter books for kids!
Jen Fischer recommends Snow Sounds and Trouble with Trolls.
MaryAnne of Mama Smiles loves Red Sled. (Wouldn’t you know it? There are two Red Sled books. One is by Lita Judge, the other is by Patricia Thomas. I am guessing it’s the one by Patricia Thomas).
Susan Marx of Read Aloud Guide suggests Lois Elhert’s Snowballs. She says, “Engaging text and illustrations makes a snow family come alive in Lois Ehlert’s “Snowballs”. Young children learn how to make a snow family using many different objects. This book is sure to foster children’s creativity as well as encourage them to bundle up and spend fun time outside during the winter. See “Help Me Get Ready To Read” for other wintry books.www.readaloudguide.com Happy Reading Aloud!”
@granolasusan on Twitter recommends Cynthia Rylant’s Snow.
Bernadette from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas loves Snow by P. D. Eastman.
Erica of What Do We Do All Day recommends chapter books Icefall and Breadcrumbs.
Favorite Winter Books for Kids
1. Best Winter Inner City Picture Book
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Hands down, this is our favorite winter picture book. Never has the inner city seemed more appealing. Since two of my kids spent a few years in the city, this is especially fun for us to see Brownstones and snow piled high. Life was like this during the big storm when we lived in the South End of Boston.
2. Best Rhyming Winter Picture Book
Snow by P. D. Eastman and Roy McKie
As my kids get older, sledding is one of the great pleasures of winter. These days we live near a perfect sledding hill. Snow not only conveys the joys of winter for kids, but does it in exuberant rhyme!
3. Best Winter Suburban Picture Book
Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton
We love Burton’s picture books, particularly Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, but even more so now that I’ve discovered we lived in the same town! Check out her biography. I can just imagine Katy or other bulldozers like Katy shoveling our suburb out, much like Katy did for Virginia nearly a hundred years ago in Newton Centre too!
4. Best Explore Winter Picture Book
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Yolen’s picture book reads like poetry, describing a magical time looking for owls at night as a father/daughter outing. May all fathers be inspired to do special father/daughter dates like this one!
5. Best Snowman Picture Book
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
At our first Boston Pops Holiday Concert for Kids, a special guest — a soprano — read The Snowman aloud while images of each page were projected onto a huge screen. She sang too, of course.
6. Best Winter Novel in Verse
May B. by Caroline Starr Rose
Rose’s debut novel in verse is stunning. May is a young girl who gets hired out to distant neighbors. She is forced to survive a snowstorm alone in a tiny sod house with hungry wolves nearby. Think Laura Ingalls Wilder but more honest and raw. In verse too!
7. Best Old Fashioned Chapter Book
The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
My girls refuse to read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books which kills me. I loved them as a child. The Long Winter seemed so foreign to me as a child growing up in Southern California, both the concept of winter and the bygone era of homesteading in the 1880s. Imagine seven months of blizzards! We can barely make it through two days!
8. Best Unforgettable Biographical Chapter Book
The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia by Esther Rudomin Hautzig
A haunting true story of Hautzig’s family who was forced into exile in Siberia during WWII for being Jewish. They were the lucky ones, in retrospect, though life wasn’t easy. On every biting cold day as I zip up my winter coat, I remember the scene in The Endless Steppe where Ester is packing up to leave and decides to stuff in her winter coat even though her suitcase is stuffed full. Imagine life in Siberia without it.
9. Best Animal Winter Chapter Book Turned into a Movie
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
Some old-fashioned chapter books have, thankfully, managed to stay in my kids’ good graces. This is one of them. If you’ve seen the movie, know that it deviated tremendously from the book and should be considered a crime. Mr. Popper’s Penguins was named a Newbery Honor Book in 1939 and won the 1940 Young Reader’s Choice Award.
10. Best Newbery Wintry Chapter Book
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
In homage to Jean Craighead George who passed away last year at 92, I offer you her Newbery winning book. Jean grew up with the Kennedy clan but her life was less about politics and scandal and more about nature and adventure. Here’s a tribute to her:
“Julie of the Wolves,” which was also a finalist for the National Book Award, centers on a 13-year-old Eskimo girl, Miyax, or Julie as she is known in English. Fleeing an oppressive arranged marriage, she strikes out to live alone in the Alaskan wild. Her survival is aided by a family of wolves, with whom she learns to communicate via sound and gesture, much as Ms. George did during a trip to the Arctic to research the book. from The New York Times
I read this book in elementary school and I still remember it. The fiercely independent characters like Julie (or Miyax) and Sam Gribley of My Side of the Mountain greatly appealed to me, though I grew up in a suburban beach town. I wasn’t the only one who was inspired by her books. It seems that Robert Kennedy, Jr. became an environmental attorney due to her influence.
To view any book at Amazon, please click on image or go here to see at Barnes and Noble.
I use our Rhododendrons outside to gauge the weather. The tighter te leaves are curled up, the colder it is. This is a weather indicator my kids use. The leaves below mean coats, but not necessarily zipped up, hats and mittens optional … or at least this is how my kids dress for 30 to 40 degree Fahrenheit weather.
Thankfully, we haven’t had much sub-zero or single digit weather lately. When it’s that cold, the Rhododendron’s leaves are curled up tight.
My husband sent me these tracks he found in our yard. What do you think? Rabbit tracks? We’re not sure …
Other winter activities for kids:
Keeping Kids Active in Winter, Part 2