Winter books for preschoolers are a fantastic antidote for the winter blues. Maybe it’s the Minnesota in me, but let me set the scene for you: It’s 4° outside. Your cheeks go numb after approximately two and a half minutes of exposure. The sun set at like, 2:00. You walk to the bus stop or your car with your head down so that the wind doesn’t dry out your eyes. You get home and stomp the snow off your boots, crabby and cold, having forgotten the magic and wonder of a world transformed by ice and snow. Enter winter books for preschoolers.
For this list, I consulted my brilliant librarian friend, Maddie, who got me started with some of the best winter books for preschool-aged children. Maybe you’re a preschool teacher or you have little ones of your own. Maybe you just like picture books! These books are gorgeous and build a little warmth and coziness when you need it most.
1. Bear Can’t Sleep by Karma Wilson
This book is gorgeous. In Bear Can’t Sleep, a very sweet bear is having trouble falling asleep for his winter hibernation. His woodland animal pals stop by to try and help him. The illustrations are cozy and beautiful, making Bear’s cave feel warm and safe against the backdrop of a cold, snowy forest.
2. Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton
Katy is an industrious tractor who pushes a snowplow in the winter, and the whole town depends on her! What I love about this book is the staggering level of detail in some of the illustrations. If this is your preschooler’s favorite, you’ll have plenty of different things to talk about on each read based on what details they want to focus on.
3. Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal
This is a wonderful nonfiction picture book that illustrates the secret world of animals living in safe, warm caves and holes beneath the snow. It includes a glossary of terms and winter animals for you and your preschooler to learn more!
4. Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter by Kenard Pak
A brother and sister take a walk through their town, pointing out all the signs that autumn is coming to a close and winter is approaching. This is a great book for learning more about the changing of the seasons, and it is beautifully illustrated and written to boot.
5. Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell
A young girl and a wolf cub both get lost in a snowstorm. They help each other reunite with their respective families. The Caldecott winner of 2018 is sparse with words but rich in emotionally expressive illustrations. Given the lack of words, Wolf in the Snow has a lot of potential for discussion and interpretation of the emotions and events on the page with your child.
6. Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk and Alexandria Neonakis
Perhaps this is not strictly a winter book, since it takes place in an Arctic climate where it is snowy and icy year round. But Sweetest Kulu is a lovely story of all the Arctic animals that come to meet the new baby, Kulu. This is a great book for themes of family as well as love for nature and animals.
7. Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers
A lost penguin shows up at a boy’s door, and he decides to return the penguin to his home, the South Pole. They get in a boat and over the course of their long journey, the boy tells the penguin stories. The illustrations are both soft and emotionally expressive, while the narrative is very sweet and kind. Highly recommended for kids who love animals, adventures, and stories of friendship.
8. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
This is a classic (1963 Caldecott Medal winner!) that captures the magic of the season’s first snowfall. We follow Peter as he puts on his snowsuit and explores the new world outside his bedroom window. I especially love how the story lingers on how he tries out different ways of walking in the snow, noticing the patterns he can make with his boots.
9. Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr
In Owl Moon, a young girl and her father go owling. It is a quiet winter night when they walk through the woods together. The 1988 Caldecott Medal winner contains illustrations of the snowy landscape, bare trees, and furry winter animals that are absolutely stunning. This book makes me want to bundle up nice and warm and be very quiet, in case I can hear an owl somewhere in the distance.
10. Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant and Christian Robinson
Winter is here! The little penguin siblings are so excited to finally get to play in the snow.
11. First Snow by Bomi Park
A little girl rushes outside to play in the fresh snow. This book is gorgeous: the illustrations are so soft and dream-like, and the animals are so uniquely fluffy and cute.
12. Winter Dance by Marion Dane Bauer and Richard Jones
Just look at that gorgeous cover. Fox isn’t sure what to do to prepare for winter, so he asks his animal friends. He can’t quite seem to get the right advice for him, though. This is a great introduction to winter animal behavior.
13. Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
In the middle of winter, a girl uses her magical box of yarn to help her town. The illustrations vary from stark black-and-white to vibrant color, and the contrast is striking. This is a great book for reflecting on the necessity of warmth and kindness in the dead of winter.
14. Holly’s Red Boots by Francesca Chessa
Holly needs to find her red boots so she can go play outside in the snow! She can find all sorts of other red things: red socks, a red hat, a red toy car…but no boots! Holly’s Red Boots has vibrant illustrations and a lovely lesson on how initial disappointment can lead to different types of fun.
15. Snow Sounds by David Johnson
On a sleepy winter morning, a boy wakes up and hears all the snow sounds: the “hush” of a town blanketed in snow, the “smoosh” of the plow, and more. This book only contains onomatopoeic words and is great for encouraging kids to think of their own snow sounds. For example: what do stomping boots sound like? What about wind in your ears?
16. Red Sled by Lita Judge
An assortment woodland creatures take a child’s sled for a winter nighttime joyride. This book is nearly wordless, besides a few well-placed onomatopoeic words to convey sound, such as walking on crunchy snow (“scrinch scrunch scrinch scrunch”). The animals have so much fun sledding and the joy leaps off the page.
17. Snow by Uri Schulevitz
When the first few snowflakes fall from the sky, a boy and his dog are the only ones who believe that a big snow is on its way. The illustrations are a story all on their own, though there is also sparse text to help the story along. Snow is a great story of how a snowstorm transforms a town and makes it something magical.
18. When the Snow Falls by Linda Booth Sweeney and Jana Christy
In this very sweet story, snow brings a family together. A brother and sister go sledding with their grandma and take care of their happy farm animals. The illustrations are soft, cozy, and cheerful, and show just how much there is to do with your family in the fresh snow!
19. Mice Skating by Annie Silvestro and Teagan White
Lucy is different from other mice. All her mice friends prefer to burrow underground when winter comes around, but she loves to play in the snow! She’s especially good at ice skating and desperately wants to show her friends. My favorite line: “…she loved wearing her fluffy wool hat with the pink pom-pom on top. It did more than keep her head warm. It kept her heart warm, too.”
20. Claudia & Moth by Jennifer Hansen Rolli
In the spring and summer, Claudia spends all her time chasing and painting butterflies. Winter makes Claudia sad because the butterflies disappear for the season. But one day, she finds a little moth, who relights her artistic fire.
21. Shelter by Céline Claire and Qin Leng
A big storm is approaching, and all the animals in the forest are busy with preparations. Two strangers arrive, asking for shelter, but no one wants to take them in. However, the woodland animals soon find themselves in need of help. Will the strangers be more generous than the other animals in their time of need?
22. Big Snow by Jonathan Bean
David is so excited for the big snow, he can hardly think of anything else! His family gives him chores to complete as he waits, but he keeps getting distracted by his anticipation for the snowstorm. The illustrations in this book are so soft and lovely.
23. Snowballs by Lois Ehlert
The illustrations made of found objects in Snowballs is sure to be a hit with little ones. There are so many ways to make a snowman! This could also make a great introduction to a classroom activity of making snowpeople out of various scraps, back-of-the-arts-and-crafts-cupboard junk, and found objects.
24. Animals in the Winter by Henrietta Bancroft, Richard G. Van Gelder, and Helen K. Davie
This is a sweet and informative nonfiction picture book about how different animals respond to cold, snowy weather. Why do some animals leave, and some stay? Why do some animals go to sleep for months, while others are as active as ever? This book offers kid-friendly explanations.
25. Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar and Troy Cummings
Little Red is a figure skater who needs a partner for the pairs competition! Characters (and phrases) from familiar fairy tales make appearances throughout the story…and what’s the deal with the Big Bad Wolf? The repurposing of stock fairy tale characters is delightful and the illustrations are like a cozier, less garish version of Candyland.
26. Kamik Joins the Pack by Darryl Baker and Qin Leng
Jake dreams of becoming a dog sled musher, and hopes that his puppy, Kamik, is up to the task! With help from his uncle and a lot of hard work, Jake comes to understand just what it takes to win a dogsledding race. This is an excellent present-day setting story of an Inuit family and community, and the illustrations are a delight.
What are your favorite winter books for preschoolers?
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