In the event that you’re finding yourself shut in to protect against a very cold world, I thought it would be fun to suggest some books that might help you look out your window and see the sparkle instead of the slush. You could read those books with your little one and pass on the wonder.
Of course, the first and most important board book that I could suggest has to be The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. It’s the perfect book on the subject: the colors are vivid (because a snowy day doesn’t have to be gray), the story is quiet (because snow makes everything sound like a whisper) and the text is simple (because wonder doesn’t have to be complicated).
The Snowy Day was published in 1976, but Keats found his first piece of inspiration for the book in 1940. His inspiration came from four photos, arranged almost like comic panels, in a 1940 issue of Life magazine. The photos are of a young Black boy before and after he gets a blood test. The boy is first happy, maybe happy to be photographed, (“carefree” says the caption), then curious, asking if the blood test will hurt, then “trusting” as he puts out his hand, and finally, the caption says, “test hurt he starts to cry,” though I think the boy looks as much betrayed as hurt.
Keats was captivated by the boy’s expressions and movements, and for decades, he wanted to put the child into his illustrations. In Keats’s Caldecott Medal speech, he said, “His expressive face, his body attitudes, the very way he wore his clothes, totally captivated me…As the years went by, these pictures would find their way back to my walls, offering me fresh pleasure at each encounter.”
Finally, he got the idea for a story that could feature the young boy, and got to work, and our great snow classic was born. But what are some other books that can inspire similar snowy wonder? Below I’ve rounded up nine excellent snow board and picture books for your snow babies.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
It’s the classic story of a young boy, Peter, who heads out to have a solo adventure in the snow. He makes tracks, snowballs, snow angels, and sees the wonder of his city covered in blankets of snow.
A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Lou Fancher
If you want to know more about Jack Ezra Keats and the history of The Snowy Day, check out this lovely, poetic work of nonfiction from celebrated children’s book author Andrea Davis Pinkney. You’ll learn about Keats’s childhood, his time at art school, his work as an artist, and how he finally became a children’s book illustrator.
A Thing Called Snow by Yuval Zommer
Fox and Hare were born in the spring, so this is the first time they’ve ever felt the cold. They’re excited to see what this thing snow is, but they’ve never seen it before! They ask all their friends to describe snow, but nothing prepares them for just how lovely it really is.
Little Owl’s Snow by Divya Srinivasan
The forest is getting ready for winter! Little Owl has never seen snow before, and as all the animals are snuggling up for their winter, something magical happens as the forest turns to sparkling crystal. How strange and wonderful!
Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner and Chris Silas Neal
What’s happening in the forest as it snows? Explore what happens above the snow as you ski through the woods (whose tracks are these? what bird is flying?), and then learn what’s happening deep under the snow (who is hibernating? who is burrowing?) with a young boy and his father as they ski together.
Tracks in the Snow by Wong Herbert Lee
Follow a small child as they follow tracks through the snow. Who made them? Where do they go? The little girl’s red coat stands in wonderful contrast in the charming illustrations in this rhyming story.
Into the Snow by Yuki Kaneko and Masamitsu Saito
It’s snowing! This is a wonderful story told from the point of view of a young child who is excited to go out into the snow. The snow is glittering, light, and fluffy. It’s clear like glass. It’s an evocative, sweet book.
The Snow Day by Komako Sakai
Kindergarten is closed due to snow, so the young bunny won’t have to go to school. She spends the long day inside her apartment, safe with her mother, but her father can’t make it home due to the weather. Her and her mother make the best of their time together as they wait. It’s a simple, charming story that feels safe and cozy in the best way.
Chirri & Chirra: The Snowy Day by Kaya Doi
This is the story of Chirri and Chirra, two twin girls, and their fantastical adventure through the snow. They head off on their bicycles to find a door made of ice. They head through and find all sorts of animals waiting to welcome them in. It’s charming and sweet and a little strange, like the best kind of dream. (Translated from Japanese by Yuki Kaneko, author of Into the Snow above!)
Snow by Uri Sculevitz
This might be my favorite snow book. One snowflake appears in the sky. A little boy with his dog sees it and is excited for the coming weather. The whole city nay-says what he thinks will be a snowstorm, but the snowflakes don’t listen to the weather report. They come anyway.
I hope these inspire you to take a chilly winter walk! If you’re looking for wintery books for kids of all ages, check out 25 of the Best Winter Books for Kids. If you’d like some wintery books for grown ups, you might enjoy these 5 Wintry Books to Read when It’s Too Cold to Go Outside. Looking forward to the change of the seasons? Check out 5 of the Best Children’s Books about Spring!