Up until a few years ago, I had lived almost my entire life in Minnesota, a place where severe winter weather can last six months out of the year. I did not love Minnesota winters. But each year that I live in Virginia, away from that extreme winter weather, the more I come to love the season. Big, fluffy snowflakes. Snow angels. Chilly days with a cup of hot chocolate in front of the fire, curled up with a good book. We’ve had our first snowflakes of the year in Fredericksburg, and I’m ready for more! With their beautiful illustrations and whimsical language, I think children’s picture books capture the magic and beauty of winter like nothing else.
Croc & Turtle: Snow Fun!, opens a new window by Mike Wohnoutka
Croc and Turtle are excited to spend the day together, and each comes with a list of fun things to do. Croc’s list is all outdoor activities. Turtle’s are all indoor activities. They are good at compromising, so they take turns doing things on each other’s list. But when they truly don’t enjoy each other’s activities, it leads to hard feelings, and they need to come up with a different solution.
Hiders Seekers Finders Keepers, opens a new window by Jessica Kulekjian, illustrated by Salini Perera
As the days get shorter, animals prepare for winter. Some are hiders and burrow deep. Some are seekers and migrate to a different place. Some are finders and keep warm and fed by using their special skills to survive the cold weather. I particularly like this non-fiction book because it has simple, rhythmic language that makes it a fun choice for younger children, while the supplementary information on each page and in the backmatter make it interesting for elementary school-age children as well. That supplementary information and backmatter also help adults answer questions that younger children may have.
How to Build A Snow Bear, opens a new window by Eric Pinder, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
When Thomas gets home from school, he can’t wait to build a big snowman all by himself in the freshly fallen snow. He rolls a giant snowball for the base, then one for the middle, then one for the top. But no matter how hard he tries, he cannot get the snowball for the head onto the top of his snowman; it is just too tall. After some gentle prodding and some cookie bribes, Thomas gets his little brother to help him. Thomas’ snowman doesn’t turn out exactly how he had planned, but he winds up having so much fun with his brother that he doesn’t mind.
Little Mole's Wish, opens a new window by Sang-Keun Kim
Lonely Little Mole is headed home by himself when he encounters a snowball. As Little Mole walks, he talks to the snowball and pushes it ahead of him, so that it grows larger and larger. While waiting at the bus stop, Little Mole tells the snowball what fun they will have when they get to his house. The bus driver, however, won’t allow a snowball on the bus. Rather than get discouraged, Little Mole gets creative. The soft colors of the illustrations match the gentle story and together convey some magic.
A Sled for Gabo, opens a new window by Emma Otheguy, illustrated by Ana Ramírez González
Gabo sees children from school outside sledding and enjoying the freshly fallen snow, but he doesn’t have a sled. Or boots. Or a warm hat. And he is shy. But with some help from his mother and some gentle prodding, Gabo bundles up and heads outside. Friendly neighbors, both young and old, help Gabo gain the confidence (and the sled!) he needs to join in the fun.
We Want Snow!, opens a new window by Jamie A. Swenson, illustrated by Emilie Boon
Three children, who are anxiously waiting for snow, begin to chant: Snow! Snow! We want Snow! As they imagine all the fun they’ll have sledding and skating and building snowmen, they keep up their chant until it is finally snowing. They gently hold the slowly falling snowflakes then bound through the mountains of snow that accumulate until they start to wonder if maybe there is such a thing as too much snow.
Darcie Caswell is the Youth Services Coordinator at CRRL. This column originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.