We love this line from a Verlyn Klinkenborg essay in The New York Times: "When the thermometer bottoms out, I remember, again, that winter isn't a season, it's a place."
It is indeed a place transformed by blankets of snow; a place filled with frosty breath and reddened children's cheeks peeping out from under hats and mufflers; it's a slippery place, yet a place we still walk through as briskly as we can on our way back home. Winter is a place and time when there are few things we'd rather do than to snuggle up with a warm preschooler and a good book. It's been plenty cold in many parts of the country these days, so we offer you our favorite winter reads to savor the season with the little ones.
The Snowy Day by Jack Ezra Keats
This classic (1963) celebration of a snowfall in the city remains one of the loveliest children's books on any theme. (It is also noteworthy for its very big first: it was the first color picture book for young children to feature a small African-American hero.) On this happy morning, Willie wakes up to discover his familiar urban world transformed by a blanket of snow . We follow his little red-capped figure on a day of snowy discoveries. Keats's watercolor and cut-out images are spare and simply stunning. This was the first in the author's series of books about Willie's adventures, all of which we love and heartily recommend.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
Susan Jeffers's exquisite pictures of the snowy forest and its creatures bring this beloved poem to life for small readers. It's a beautiful reading experience for kids and grownups, and we can think of no better way to share Robert Frost and the magic of winter with your children. The hush of the winter woods is spellbinding, and promises to mesmerize the most raucous of little snow-lovers in your midst.
Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton
For some small persons, snow is all about the snow-plows. If you have such a vehicle-obsessed one at your house, here's a classic that will delight to no end. Katy the "beautiful red crawler tractor" is the star of the Highway Department of the city of Geoppolis, and with good reason. When a big snow cripples the other trucks, it's up to Katy to dig out the city, so that planes can land and trains can run, water mains can be repaired, fires put out, patients taken to the hospital, and mail delivered. Thank goodness for Katy! It's a book not just about a tractor, but about how a city works, featuring numbered maps that track Katy's progress through the snow, from uptown to downtown - an all-around charmer!
The Fourteen Bears in Summer and Winter by Evelyn Scott
This is a reissued treasure from Golden Books circa the mid-1960s that we remember from childhood and simply adore. A (large) family of bears live in the forest, each child in their own individual tree, fantastically decorated to their own individual taste. (We are quite sure this book has inspired many a future interior designer!) They experience the delights of summer (honey bees, swimming in a stream, the sun on their shoulders), and, when their hibernation is interrupted, of winter (crunching through the snow, skiing, sledding and snowshoes, and snowbears too). What a gorgeous, quirky delight to teach the seasons!
The Mitten by Jan Brett
This book is an adaptation of a classic Ukrainian folk tale. When Nicki loses his bright white mitten in the snow (just like his Baba warned him,) a tiny mole burrows inside for warmth. As other animals come along, it is revealed that the mitten is a place where there is room for everyone. Brett's unique style, which makes use of every inch of paper, makes this book a delight.
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