There is something about winter that makes it seem perfectly pleasant to stay indoors cozied up with a favorite book. It helps, of course, that we live in a place with cold, snowy winters. But there is something undeniably nice about turning the pages of a book during the shorter days of winter. For me, it is a soothing and calming activity during a time of year that can often feel hectic, and not only during the holidays.
We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite wintry (but not Holiday-centric) picture books that beg to be enjoyed by families on a long winter night.
By Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by Beth Krommes
This peaceful poem expresses a child’s wish for an overnight winter storm so mighty that it stops the world. I refuse to believe that this child and I are the only ones who have ever wished for a big blizzard that makes the busy world stop. This longing sensation, a decidedly wintry one, is perfectly expressed by Newbery medalist, Joyce Sidman and is perfectly matched by gorgeous scratchboard illustrations from Caldecott medalist Beth Krommes. This is a quiet, slow and mesmerizing book perfectly suited for a winter bedtime.
By Jan Brett
Nearly any of Jan Brett’s books could be on this list, because her signature artistic style is so associated with winter reading (if you haven’t read her version of THE MITTEN you really ought to). But COZY, her newest book, is an especially sweet story of winter friendship. Cozy is a young musk ox in Alaska, named for his especially silky coat. When he is separated from his herd during a harsh winter, his coat protects him from the winter chill. Soon, a growing number of animals seek shelter in his coat which prompts Cozy to set some “house rules” so everyone will get along. If you know Jan Brett, you know to expect beautiful illustrations and incredibly detailed side panels that young readers will spend hours exploring,
Virginia Lee Burton is a classic children’s author and illustrator who wrote lots of stories of personified things, but KATY AND THE BIG SNOW holds a special place in my heart, and not just because it’s perfectly wintry. Katy is a tractor with a snow plow attached to her front who only gets brought out on very snowy days when the town needs her the most. She waits, and waits, and waits until a big snow storm arrives and then she happily goes to work clearing the streets so that people in the town can get where they need to go. Truck-obsessed children will love seeing Katy at work, and the vintage illustrations make such excellent use of white space that this book can be read over and over and still be charming – especially on a snowy day after seeing a snow plow at work!
This is part of Kenard Pak’s series of books showing two children saying goodbye to one season and welcoming another. The entire series is beautiful, but this entry holds a special spot in my heart. We follow the two children on a long walk as we watch the season start to turnover. We see the tell-tale signs that autumn is ending – like piles of leaves and crisp early evenings all moving towards the inevitable snowfall. The text in this quiet and inviting book is sweet, but the illustrations and how they manage to really feel like the change in seasons are what will make this book a delight to read over and over again – especially as we prepare for a snowfall.
By Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Illustrated by Mary Azarian
There are a surprising number of Caldecott winners about winter, which made it a difficult choice to recommend just one. But in the end, I had to pick this nostalgic favorite – a picture book biography about Wilson Alwyn Bentley. Bentley, or Snowflake Bentley, was a self-taught scientist who studied the microscopic world of snowflakes by photographing thousands of flakes to study their form and prove that no snowflake is alike. The incredible illustrations in this book are done with woodblock and hand-tinting to evoke the snowy 19th century Vermont town where Bentley lived. This is a simple but beautiful book that could act as an invitation to explore snow science with children.