As someone who didn’t grow up seeing snow very often, I might romanticize winter and cold places just a touch. Ok, maybe a lot. You must excuse me if my list of winter books for kids below is a bit biased in that way. To me, thinking of snow conjures up images of streets quietly blanketed in beautiful, fluffy white powder, always on a day where you have nothing to do but sit by a fire and read. (Of course, because what else would you be doing by a crackling fire?). Unfortunately, that may not be the reality of living in a snowy place, but there’s no harm in imagining it that way, right?
Now that I live in a place where snow literally needs to be made inside if it is to stay frozen at any time of year, I enjoy conjuring up those lovely mental images by reading about winter and snowy places. There is no crackling fire where I live, but I can still enjoy a wintery landscape without needing to add any layers or dig out my winter gloves I usually keep hidden in a drawer somewhere.
If you’re also feeling the need for winter kids books wherever you are in the world, here are a few titles you should add to your regular reading rotation.
First Snow by Bomi Park
Park’s book is a perfect addition to your winter books for babies and toddlers collection. It has the exact kind of ethereal quiet I associate with an unhurried first snowfall when you have no where in particular to be. Her illustrations add layers of texture and evoke detailed settings without overwhelming the tiny figure at the center of her story.
Baby Penguin Finger Puppet Book by Chronicle Books and Illustrated by Yu-Hsuan Huang
Huang’s Baby Penguin finger puppet book is adorable and will appeal to kids and adults alike. You get to follow baby penguin as she moves through her daily life, with a plush puppet to add to the fun as she snuggles against her mama or peeps “Good morning!” If you like this, you may also like Huang’s other baby animal books like Baby Bear Finger Puppet or Five Little Ducks.
Soup Day by Melissa Iwai
A perfect companion for a snowy day, Soup Day follows a little girl and her Mom as they pick out vegetables and cut them all up to make a delicious soup to warm up with. They play while waiting for the soup to cook, Mom adds spices and lets the little girl pick the pasta, and then they enjoy it together with Daddy. Includes a recipe for “Snowy Day Vegetable Soup” at the end.
The Last Marshmallow by Grace Lin
Grace and Mei have an important problem: it’s cold outside and they have two cups of cocoa. This seems simple enough. However, they also have three marshmallows, obviously one more than their cups of cocoa. So who gets the all important last marshmallow? As you can imagine, the friends split it evenly and everyone is happy by the end of the book. I wish more things in life were as easy and satisfying!
Mouse’s First Snow by Lauren Thompson and Illustrated by Buket Erdogan
Poppa and Mouse go out to enjoy Mouse’s first snow by skating, making snow angels, sledding and sculpting a little mouse twin out of the white stuff falling from the sky. This is a rhyming book with simple language that little listeners will enjoy.
Little Owl’s Snow by Divya Srinivasan
This has a thoughtful, adorable little owl who notices the changing of seasons and watches his friends like Bear and Raccoon get ready for the winter. Although this is a book about fall and winter, it still manages to have a very colorful presentation that lots of readers will love.
Can Bears Ski? By Raymond Antrobus and Illustrated by Polly Dunbar
When I think about winter books for kids, this book immediately comes to mind. It has a panel in it in which Little Bear is looking at snow falling and all it says is “Shhhhh!” at the bottom. Little Bear keeps thinking that the others around him are asking him “Can Bears Ski? After a visit to an audiologist, he begins hearing therapy and lip-reading. He also gets hearing aids, which change the way he perceives the world around him in new ways. Since this story is about hearing and vibration, the image of Little Bear and the quiet falling snow really stuck with me. I enjoy reading this title over and over again, and I highly recommend getting a copy.
Tracks in the Snow by Wong Herbert Yee
This is great for all readers, but especially those who grow up without much snow. They may not know that when people or animals walk in snow, we leave footprints and other traces behind. The little girl in the story sees tracks outside her window and wonders who made them. She decides to follow these tracks and find out. What will she find? Who made these tracks and where will they lead her?
A Coyote Solstice Tale by Thomas King and illustrated by Gary Clement
This book was the winner of the American Indian Youth Literature Award in 2010. This is a rhyming book that follows Coyote as his expected feast with friends is unexpectedly interrupted by a small girl. The animal friends team up to help the girl make it back to wherever it is that she belongs. As they do, they learn more about how humans really live.
Cold and Hot by Jacqueline Sweeney and Illustrated by Anna Rich
This is a charming book about a boy whose family just wants him to be warm outside so they make sure he really dresses for the weather. This seems like a good idea until he realizes that he’s getting too hot in all his extra layers. Definitely a good choice for little kids who will be able to relate to the simple language and the scenario of dressing carefully to go out into the snow.
Ten Ways to Hear Snow by Cathy Camper and Illustrated by Kenard Pak
The little girl at the center of this book, Lina, wakes up to a quiet day of snow. And even though it’s incredibly quiet in the city, she knows it’s werak anab (or grape leaf) day with her sitti (or grandmother) so she sets out to visit her. I enjoyed this story and also really liked the illustrations. If you also like Kenard Pak’s work, you should check out his book Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter or his illustration of ‘Ohana Means Family by Maui-based writer Ilima Loomis (who is sadly no relation of mine as far as I know).
Thunder and the Noise Storms by Jeffrey Ansloos and Shezza Ansloos and illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley
The main character, Thunder, is particularly sensitive to sounds and noises. Without naming any particular cause of this sensitivity, Thunder’s grandfather helps him process some of the sounds around him in a less distressing way. The story is accompanied by lovely illustrations from Ojibwe artist Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley.
Barn at Night by Michelle Houts and illustrated by Jen Betton
A father and daughter go out to the barn at night and see who is awake and who is just emerging in this warm story of a wintery night on a farm. A simple text accompanies the watercolor illustrations showing not only the setting but the animals that also make up this world.
Little Moar and the Moon by Roselynn Akulukjuk and illustrated by Jazmine Gubbe
Little Moar plays with his friends in the Arctic Circle. He finds he’s afraid of the creepy half-smile he thinks he sees on the moon and tries to rush home to beat its rise. However, there are a lot of fun things to enjoy during the shortening days before winter sets in, so readers will have to see if he makes it home in time.
Snow Song by A. K. Riley and illustrated by Dawn Lo
A book with a simple presentation of different kinds of snowfall and ways to enjoy that snow. There are lots of depictions of joyful kids playing and dawdling in the snow with repetition that will appeal to younger readers in particular.
Santa in the City by Tiffany D. Jackson and illustrated by Reggie Brown
A Christmas-themed book, obviously: Deja is eagerly anticipating and counting down the days to Santa’s yearly visit. However, her friends have a lot of questions about whether Santa is real or not, and so Deja sets herself the challenge of staying up for his arrival.
The Real Santa by Nancy Redd and illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow
Another Christmas book for those who enjoy the holiday, this is for any readers who are truly Santa-obsessed (that’s a thing, right?). The sweet family in this book has a number of heart-warming traditions, including enjoying hot cocoa together and having the grandparents stay over for Christmas Eve.
If you like this, you might also check out Redd’s Bedtime Bonnet.
Olwen Finds Her Wings by Nora Surojegin and illustrated by Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin
This is a lovely picture book from Finnish mother and daughter Nora Surojegin and Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin. Olwen is a baby owl who isn’t happy with being so small. She longs to move like her other animal friends, but rather than copying them, she will discover that she has a gift all her own.
If you like this, these authors have also written a Christmas book called Otto and the Secret Light of Christmas which has elves, fairies, and an adventure in Lapland in it.
The Littlest Yak by Lu Fraser and illustrated by Kate Hindley
Gertie is the littlest yak in this cute, rhyming story. She is upset at being so tiny and some little readers will identify with her rush to grow up despite her mother’s reassurances that yaks come in all sizes. Will Gertie learn to accept herself as she is right now?
Brother’s Keeper by Julie Lee
Julie Lee gives readers a book inspired by her mother’s story of living through the Korean War of the 1950s. The main character is a 12 year-old sister, Sora, who must protect her 8 year-old brother, Young, as they struggle to flee a terrible war in what would become the North and South Korea we know today. This 2020 debut won a Freeman Book Award, recognized for what the prize administrators define as “contributing meaningfully to an understanding of East and Southeast Asia.”
The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman
Nick is a 12 year-old runaway who stumbles upon the self-proclaimed evil wizard Smallbone and his magical home in Maine. Smallbone declares Nick his apprentice, but won’t teach him anything. Nick has escaped an abusive uncle and cousin at home, and so doesn’t intend to return any time soon. Plus there is a werewolf and a coyote gang to contend with. Will Nick learn enough to get along with the grumpy Smallbone and protect his town in the process?
Brian’s Winter by Gary Paulsen
Gary Paulsen is probably most famous for his Newbery Honor book Hatchet. Brian’s Winter is sequel to Paulsen’s famous book and provides an alternate ending to the first book, with 13 year-old Brian spending the winter on his own. Paulsen is most famous for his adventure writing, much of which was based on his own experiences. I recently listened to a 1994 interview he did with Terri Gross in which he talked about his experiences running the famous Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska; Paulsen passed away in 2021 after writing some 200 books.
The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia by Esther Hautzig
This book tells the true story of 10 year-old Esther and the rest of the Rudomin family who were deemed “enemies of the people” and deported from their home in Poland in 1941 by Russian forces. The Rudomins were forced to live for 5 years under brutal conditions, performing hard labor and barely surviving near starvation in Siberia. This was originally published in 1968; the cover at the left was designed to celebrate the 50 anniversary of its publication.
Dog Driven by Terry Lynn Johnson
McKenna Barney is the 14 year-old protagonist of this book by Canadian author Terry Lynn Johnson. McKenna suffers from an eye condition that impairs her vision. Not wanting her family to doubt her capabilities or limit her growing independence, she keeps her limited vision a secret from her family. However, this becomes increasingly difficult as she tries to complete a dog sled race through the Canadian wilderness.
Race to the Frozen North: The Matthew Henson Story by Catherine Johnson and Illustrated by Katie Hickey
This is a book about Arctic explorer Matthew Henson, whose adventurous life and experiences were shaped not only by his spirit but also by the color of his skin. Believed by many to be the first to reach the North Pole, Henson was skillful at surviving in the harsh environment and built much of the equipment he and his colleagues used to reach remote places. This adventure book may appeal to reluctant readers in particular and it is good to see that Henson’s story is presented in a dyslexia-friendly format by publisher Barrington Stoke.
That is it for my list for winter books for kids. If you’d like more, try this one for preschoolers (which I am delighted to see includes Bomi Park’s work). And you might also check out this list of fall kids’ books or these winter comics for more seasonally-inspired reading.