Ahh winter. It starts with such optimism and coziness, and then drags on for what feels like a year. (Loving the “January was a tough year, but we made it” meme). Seriously feeling it! But with the cold, comes a bit more cozy indoor time and… books! These winter books are great for preschoolers — and babies and toddlers. The early grades have enjoyed the stories too, just not on repeat like preschoolers do. They have the usual suspects – snow, forest animals, hot chocolate, sleds, mittens. You could practically play bingo or a drinking game with the subject matter of these books. Is it even a winter book if it doesn’t involve snow?
While we started reading winter books in December, we’re still going strong this February! A lot of winter and Christmas books intersect with snow and holidays. We have returned most of our Christmas books to the library. But we’re still enjoying the last bit of our winter books before we fully get excited about Spring!
Frugal Bon Vivant note on seasonal books – I adore seasonal books and I love supporting the purchase of real, physical books. However, I really recommend using your local library to start. First, it allows you to try out a dozen or so books to narrow down your favorites. Second, it’s a huge cost savings! If you bought every book in this list, you’d be spending like $150. And if you want to try new books for all four seasons, and holidays etc. it really adds up! Tip: Most libraries allow you to place holds on books. Sign in to your online account and place holds on all the books you want. Then you’ll get a quick email when the books are ready, and you just waltz in and pick them up.
Our fav winter books:
Red Sled – by Lita Judge – The illustrations and simplicity of this book are adorable. Our two year old also started saying “Alleyoooop!” because of this book which is pretty hilarious. It took me a couple days to figure out where he had heard the word. Then we read this book again. This book has minimal words and more sounds like scrunching of the snow etc. Something about this really appeals to some kiddos – mine especially.
Winter is Here – by Kevin Henkes, Illustrated by Laura Dronzek – This book follows all the things that winter brings. Our toddler really fixated on the mittens aspect. It’s a beautifully illustrated and descriptive book about things winter brings. There’s also a board book version which would have been great when he was in the tearing books up stage.
The Mitten – by Jan Brett – This Ukrainian story of a boy who requests his grandma knit him white mittens. He drops one in the snow, and it becomes a home for many different animals. Then the boy finds it on his way home. Part folky, part imaginative – this one really captured the imagination of our toddler.
Winter – by Gerda Muller – There’s something about this simply illustrated books by Gerda Muller that our two year old just loves. No story here, just winter scenes. As a parent, it can sometimes feel exhausting when a book doesn’t have words. Especially if they request you “read” it. This series however, I can tell him to read it to me. Sometimes we just talk about what’s happening in the pictures. Love this series.
The Snowy Day – by Ezra Jack Keats The biggest classic on this list! It follows a boy exploring his neighborhood after the first snowfall of the season. Written in the 60s, this book was ahead of its time for featuring a child of color as the star of the book. It was the first to win a major children’s book award. Pretty cool. After your child has read the book, there’s also a new Amazon Prime video of the book. Kind of a fun way to experience the story in a different medium. We saved it for a winter flight and it was a hit.
Over & Under the Snow – by Kate Messner, Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal – this one is especially great for toddlers in that stage of learning “over” and “under”. They’ll be pretty excited to learn what’s under the snow.
Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter – by Kenard Pak – This one has a fun sing song text of “Hello…” to all the things winter brings as fall turns to winter. And in putting this list together, I realized they just released a new one called Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring!
The Shortest Day – by Susan Cooper, Illustrated by Carson Ellis – The older book by this name – The Shortest Day – Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer was a little old for our toddler. We may revisit it in the future. The newest Shortest Day is illustrated by Carson Ellis (Home book). We also checked out at the library and we loved the pictures and book overall. But again, the concept of winter solstice is still a bit advanced for our two year old. It’s still interesting subject matter and beautifully illustrated so we’ll be reading in future years as well.
Winter Dance – by Marion Dane Bauer, Illustrated by Richard Jones – I loved this one for the animals and illustrations but also the underlying message of being yourself. As animals get ready for winter, the fox looks for what to do. All the animals he meets tell what they do to prepare for winter. Finally fox meets another fox and finds their role.
The Wish Tree – by Kyo Maclear, Illustrated by Chris Turnham – The Wish Tree follows a boy and his sled (Boggan the toboggan) exploring the forest for a wish tree. It’s imaginative – showing that wishes can come true in very different interpretations. Plus, it’s really magically illustrated.
Pick a Pine Tree – by Patricia Toht, Illustrated by Jarvis – honorable mention to Pick a Pine Tree. Yes, it’s a Christmas book but it’s also all about winter and one that has stayed out longer than Christmas. Our two year old loves this book. We also went and cut our own tree down in the woods this year. I’m loving the memory association and traditions aspect of this book. After checking it out at the library the first time around, I ended up buying it in an after Christmas sale. The illustrations are gorgeous.
Other Winter Books we have on our list for next year: