Looking for snow picture books? As a child of California, I grew up fascinated by snow. Earthquakes. Drought. El Niño Flooding. Forest Fires. I knew all about those. But snow? It was a magical, foreign concept to me. I never even had a winter coat until I moved to the east coast when I was 11. What was most fascinating part of snow? Snow days, of course. Whether stuck inside because of snow or celebrating the natural world, here is a list of 12 books perfect for reading together on snow days or all winter long.
Classic Snow Picture Books
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
This wordless picture book shows how illustrations alone can tell a whole story. It was even made into a half hour animated show in 1982. These delightful, pencil crayon drawings show a young boy going on escapades with a snowman that’s come to life. They end with the snowman melting and the boy learning to mourn the loss and keep the memory of his friend alive.
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr
With sparse language and soft watercolor illustration, celebrated children’s book author Jane Yolen tells the story of a father and daughter walking through the woods looking for owls. In the still, snowy night the father calls “Whoo-whoo-whoo” into the silence. It’s a mystery whether or not an owl will call back. This book is a celebration of humans’ relationships with the natural world. It’s been a bedtime favorite for over 30 years!
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
No list of snow picture books would be complete without this beloved winter classic. The bold shapes and colors bring readers a winter city landscape through the eyes of young Peter and his iconic snow suit. It was a groundbreaking book for being one of the first picture books featuring a Black child as a main character and refraining from using negative stereotypes popular in children’s literature at the time. Along with the Caldecott medal, it has the distinction of being the most checked out book in the New York Public Library’s 125 year history.
A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Steve Johnson, and Lou Fancher
This book (with a long title) doesn’t really belong in the classic snow picture books section. It was published in 2016! But I put it here because it makes such a nice pairing with its predecessor: The Snowy Day. Using poetic language, Andrea Davis Pinkney tells the story of Ezra Jack Keats’s life, starting as the child of Polish immigrants in New York City over 100 years ago. The story focuses on how his own experiences with being different and antisemitism lead him to create the character of Peter in his most iconic work. It also discusses how this character paved the way for more characters and creators of color. This book is a true celebration of Ezra Jack Keats. It’s also on the longer side, great for a long chunk of time or older elementary school kids to practice their reading.
Contemporary Snow Picture Books for Kids
Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter by Kenard Park
A brother and sister take a walk, noticing the differences between autumn and winter. From leaves falling off the trees to birds flying south to winter flowers sprouting out of the ground, they say goodbye to fall and give each sign of the new season an enthusiastic “hello!”
Little Mole’s Wish by Sang-Keun Kim, Translated by Chi-Young Kim
Translated from Korean, this beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Mole, who is new in town and very lonely. One day, he rolls a snowball all the way to the bus. Along the way, the tells the snowball his worries and secrets. When the bus driver won’t let the snowball on the bus, Mole forms his friend into a bear as a disguise. When Mole’s friend doesn’t survive the warm bus ride home, he’s distraught. But with the help of his grandmother, and maybe a little magic, Mole finds his friend again.
A Big Bed for Little Snow by Grace Lin
This modern day fable seeks a mythical explanation for why it snows. Little Snow’s mother fills his bed with feathers. But Little Snow would rather jump on the bed than sleep on it. And when he jumps extra high, a big bunch of feathers fall out leading to a blizzard down below. This is a sweet snow-themed companion to A Big Mooncake for Little Star that will delight kids’ imaginations.
Tracks in the Snow by Wong Herbert Yee
A little girl sees mysterious footsteps in the snow outside her house. She follows them wondering who made them and where they are leading. But when they bring her in a loop back home, she realizes they are the tracks she made yesterday. A very cozy book perfect for reading after a snow day exploration.
A Day So Gray by Marie Lamba and Alea Marley
The girl in this book is tired of winter. At first, she can only see the gray and brown colors. Wherever she looks things are blah, boring, and bland. But her friend sees beauty in everything around them. She notices orange berries, purple shadows in the snow, and more. This story presents two ways of looking at winter. The acceptance that we will all have days where we can only see the gray. And the encouragement for looking on the bright side and trying to see the beautiful details that are easy to overlook.
Nonfiction Snow Picture Books
Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal
Mixing scientific information with stark, beautiful illustrations, this book examines what in nature exists above and (most excitingly) below the snow. While above the snow, everything looks peaceful and quiet, there is a whole secret world of animals living below the white, frozen blanket. From bullfrogs to bears and squirrels to snow hares (yes I rhymed, the book does not), many animals live through the winter safe and warm under the snow.
The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Jon Nelson and Mark Cassino
A nature photographer and a snow scientist answer all the questions young readers might have about snow. Starting with clouds, step by step they explain the entire life cycle of a snow flake. The up close photographs of actual snow crystals are particularly fascinating to look at!
Animals in Winter by Henrietta Bancroft and Richard G. Van Gelder and Helen K. Davie
This nonfiction picture book step by step goes through what different animals do to survive the winter. Some move south. Other hibernate or collect food to last them through the long season. Even though they might be different, every animal has a plan. Beautiful illustrations are accompanied by informational text that covers a wide variety of animals.
This year, with the pandemic, winter can feel bleaker than ever. I hope you and the young readers in your life can find some celebration and understanding of the season through these cozy, informative snow picture books. And once you work your way through these, if you are still looking for more try these winter books for preschoolers.
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