We may not feel it, but it is winter here in Austin. Where I grew up, in Southern Maine, this time of year is meant for sleds and skis, hats and mittens, puffy coats and heavy boots. Apparently, not so much here.
But if you enjoy the snow as much as I do, getting ensconced in a good book is a great way to imagine a winter wonderland all your own. With these chilly picture books, it won’t be long before you’re taken away by the spirit of winter.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Many of us remember the first time we ever saw real snow – snow that piles up on the ground, deep enough to make footprints in, sticky enough for a snowball fight or a snowman. This Caldecott Winnter is about one boy’s first snowfall, as he explores his neighborhood dressed in his warm snowsuit. With its bright, bold illustrations and simple, engaging text, The Snowy Day has become a perennial favorite for even the youngest of snow-lovers.
The Mitten by Jan Bret
Jan Bret’s take on this Ukrainian folktale is both charming and humorous with its elaborate illustrations. Baba has made her grandson a new pair of white mittens, despite her warnings that if he drops one in the snow he’ll never be able to find them. When he does lose a mitten, one by one animals crawl inside to keep warm. As the animals coming in get bigger and bigger, you know it’s only a matter of time before the mitten can’t hold them anymore, and even though an enormous bear is already inside, it’s a tiny mouse that breaches maximum capacity.
Snow by Uri Shulevitz
In this beautifully illustrated Caldecott Honor book, snow is beginning to fall. Flake by flake, a boy and his dog notice that winter is on its way. But most of the townspeople ignore his cries of “It’s snowing,” claiming that even if that is snow that he sees, it won’t amount to anything. But, of course, grown-ups aren’t always right, and as the town is covered in white, fluffy snow, the boy couldn’t be happier.
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
This wordless picturebook with its soft, dreamy illustrations follows a boy as he excitedly builds a snowman on a wintery day. In the middle of the night, the boy goes to check on his snowman only to discover that it has come to life. They enjoy a night of adventure, frivolity, and friendship. This is a magical story that charms its way into the hearts of even the most curmudgeonly snow-haters.
The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson, illustrated by Susan Jeffers
This classic fairy tale, told with the amazing illustrations of Susan Jeffers, is both sweet and suspenseful. When the cold-hearted snow queen abducts a young boy it is up to Gerda to find him and bring him home. Her journey is rife with danger, but also with magic, and when she encounters the boy, she discovers that he is under the Snow Queen’s spell. With the story retold by Amy Ehrlich, this is the perfect wintery bedtime story for older kids.