The winter season is perfect for cozying up with a warm blanket and a cup of tea and hot chocolate, and getting lost in a good book. But it’s also great for a family outing to a library or bookstore to explore the possibilities for new reads. To fully embrace the season, check out these amazing and fun wintry stories for readers of all ages. From an action-packed winter day of activities, to informative and fascinating nonfiction picture books, to enthralling adventure chapter books, we’ve got something for everyone!
Written by Kathryn O. Galbraith
Illustrated by Adela Pons
Spirited, rhyming text and colorful, graphic art reveal an energetic cast of babies having an action-packed day of play in the park on a cheerful winter day. Featuring diverse characters and highlighting early concepts like shapes and repetition, books in the Babies in the Park series encourage an appreciation of nature and outdoor imaginative play.
Want to introduce the wonders of winter to your little one? Check out our activity suggestions!
In the Snow
Written by Elizabeth Spurr
Illustrated by Manelle Oliphant
In this gently rhyming board book, a young girl makes a snowman, sleds, and has other winter fun! Elizabeth Spurr and Manelle Oliphant together create a perfect sit-in-your-lap reading experience for toddlers. Read an excerpt here.
Written & illustrated by Karin Littlewood
A young girl way, way, way up north in a snow-covered world finds a small colorful surprises on he end of her fishing line. When visiting the fishing hole for the last time, she drops a little wooden bear into the water. Far away on a beach in the hot, hot sun, a young boy throws a colorful object into the water, then a small wooden bear washed up on the beach catches his eye.
This simple, affecting story filled with quiet magic shows how individuals around the world connect and enrich each other’s lives. Beautiful watercolor illustrations vibrantly depict the story’s shifting locations―from the frozen Arctic to the tropical shoreline. Read an excerpt here.
This beginner’s guide offers a first glimpse into the natural world of penguins, including what penguins are, how they look, how they move, what they eat, and where they live. Beautifully detailed, realistic paintings, show readers a variety of penguins, from the Adélie to the Rockhopper to the Emperor. Read an excerpt here and check out the series teacher’s guide. Learn more about the rest of the award-winning About… series here.
About Habitats: Polar Regions
Written by Cathryn Sill
Illustrated by John Sill
This beginner’s guide explores the major attributes of the Arctic and Antarctic biomes, like what they are and what kinds of animals and plants live there. The full-color illustrations show the striking beauty and remarkable diversity of these amazing regions using examples from around the globe. Read an excerpt here and check out the series teacher’s guide. Learn more about the rest of the award-winning About Habitats series here.
Written by Sally Grindley
Illustrated by John Butler
While her new cubs Snowball and Snowflake are too young to venture far from their den, Polar Star shows them the delights of their ice and snow wonderland home. But when the cubs are old enough to leave the safety of the den, they must learn how to survive in their beautiful yet hostile world and follow Polar Star across the treacherous sea ice in search of food.
This factually accurate portrayal of the joyful but often dangerous life of the largest meat-eating mammals on earth includes wondrous landscape paintings that reveal the grandeur of the Arctic world.
Under the Snow
Written by Melissa Stewart
Illustrated by Constance R. Bergum
When snow falls, we go home where it is warm and safe. What about all those animals out there in the forests and fields? What do they do when snow blankets the ground? This lyrical tour of a variety of habitats provides young readers with vivid glimpses of animals as they live out the winter beneath the snow and ice, and glowing watercolors perfectly capture the wonder and magic that can happen under the snow. Check out the teacher’s guide and readers’ theater for ideas of how to use Under the Snow in the classroom.
The Snow Lion
Written by Jim Helmore
Illustrated by Richard Jones
After moving to a new home, Caro wishes she had a friend, but she’s too shy to meet the neighborhood kids. With a little imagination, however, Caro finds the Snow Lion. Together, they have all kinds of fun racing, climbing, and playing hide-and-seek. But when the boy next door asks Caro to come play, Caro isn’t so sure. Then, the Snow Lion has an idea! Making new friends isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it in the end.
This powerful but gentle story about making new friends is gorgeously illustrated to celebrate the magic and imagination that fills every page and will appeal to any shy or lonely young reader. Read an excerpt here and learn more about the creation of the book with our Q&A with author Jim Helmore.
Under the shadow of the white-capped mountains of Japan, a kind and gentle monk takes in a white cat with unusual markings and names him Tama, Lucky Cat. Tama truly earns his nickname―“Lucky Cat,” when during a powerful thunderstorm, he sees a towering warlord on a white horse. The cat beckons the warrior forward just as a large branch crashes to the ground and lands right where the warlord had previously stood. In gratitude to Tama, the warlord lavishes gifts on the monk’s poor temple.
Based on one of the legends of Maneki Neko―“beckoning cat,” in early Edo-period Japan―this beautiful story of friendship, generosity, and kindness includes graceful text and breathtaking watercolor illustrations. Read an excerpt here.
The Story Blanket
Written by Ferida Wolff & Harriet May Savitz
Illustrated by Elena Odriozola
Babba Zarrah lives in a tiny village in the snow-covered mountains. The children love to visit her. They settle down on her big, old story blanket and listen to her imaginative tales. One day Babba Zarrah notices that Nikolai needs new socks, but she has no yarn. “Every question has an answer,” Babba Zarrah tells herself, “I just have to find it.” After the children leave, she unravels part of her story blanket and knits him some nice warm socks. As villagers start receiving mysterious gifts to keep them warm, the story blanket gets smaller and smaller until the children have nothing to sit on at story time. When the villagers finally discover Babba Zarrah’s secret, they decide to give her a surprise of her own.
Enhanced with charming illustrations, this heartwarming story of generosity makes for a wonderful read aloud experience.
Jake’s 100th Day of School
Written by Lester L. Laminack
Illustrated by Judy Love
Jake and his fellow students are getting ready for a celebration. Tomorrow is the 100th day of school and everyone is going to share their collections of 100 things. The day of the celebration arrives, but Jake forgets the 100 family pictures he has glued into a special memory book at home. Disaster! Thanks to Jake’s ingenuity and the sensitivity of his principal, Mrs. Wadsworth, Jake does have a collection to display that day… and something special to share with the class on the 101st day of school.
As classrooms prepare for the 100th day of school during winter, use this well-crafted story as inspiration for how to celebrate this exciting day of school. Find a teacher’s guide here.
Written by Lester L. Laminack
Illustrated by Adam Gustavson
When the television weatherman predicts a big snowfall, the narrator gleefully imagines the fun-filled possibilities of an unscheduled holiday from school. But when the family wakes up the next morning, they are in for a disappointment. No snow! As the family members pile into the car so they won’t be late for school, an unexpected twist reveals who wanted the snow day most of all.
This clever take on this familiar childhood wish features an unexpected twist sure to surprise and delight school-age readers. Read an excerpt here.
The Story of Matthew Henson, Co-discoverer of the North Pole
Written by Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrated by Stephen Alcorn
This stunning picture book tells the story of the under-recognized Matthew Henson who joined Robert Peary’s great 1909 expedition to reach the North Pole. The team endured storms, shifting ice, wind, injuries, accidents, and unimaginable cold. Finally, on April 1, Peary, Henson, and four Inuit men began the final 133-mile push to the Pole. Excerpts from Henson’s expedition diaries, a time line, and an epilogue place the story in its historical context.
For more resources, check out our teacher’s guide here.
Flying Over Brooklyn
Written by Myron Uhlberg
Illustrated by Gerald Fitzgerald
While trudging through deep snow in a neighborhood park, a young boy is suddenly hit with a strong wind that grabs his coat and lifts him into the air. As the young boy is soaring over familiar sites―a bridge over a frozen river, a baseball field, and an amusement park―he gains a new perspective, escaping from the routine of everyday life. But when the boy returns to the safety of his home, he is left wondering: was it all just a marvelous dream?
Based in part on author Myron Uhlberg’s childhood memories of the Great Blizzard of 1947, the author’s note provides details about the snowstorm and places this fantasy in its historical context. Find the teacher’s guide here.
Claude on the Slopes
Written & illustrated by Alex T. Smith
Claude and his best friend Sir Bobblysock go to the Snowy Mountains to swish down the powdery slopes. They throw snowballs, learn to ski, and enter a snow-sculpture contest. But when an avalanche threatens their winter wonderland, Claude must come to the rescue.
Quirky, delightfully odd, and positively surreal, this illustrated early chapter book series promises giggle-filled bedtime reading and a laugh-out-loud option for readers transitioning from picture books to chapter books. Read an excerpt here.
The Last Polar Bears
Written & illustrated by Harry Horse
Grandfather and Roo, a remarkable little dog with strong views and a short attention span, is off on an expedition to the North Pole to find the Last Polar Bears. They endure storms, high seas, a temperamental sea captain, and seasickness until the ship reaches Walrus Bay. In a primitive coastal town, Grandfather gets in a game of golf, but unscrupulous wolves plague him and Roo. Finally, Grandfather, Roo, and a penguin companion head off on foot to find the Great Bear Ridge, home to the Last Polar Bears.
This hilarious, original story through a series of letters written by Grandfather to his grandchild will delight young and old alike. Winsome pen-and-ink illustrations capture the charmingly eccentric personalities of Grandfather and his delightful canine companion and the amusing calamities that befall them.
Written by Sam Gayton
Illustrated by Alice Ratterree
She is a girl three inches tall with eyes like drops of dew. Her clothes are cut from handkerchiefs and stitched with spider silk. For half her life, she has been trapped in a birdcage while her giant kidnapper sits beside her, writing in a leather-bound book the size of a house. Her name is Lily, and tonight she is escaping. She is going home. To Lilliput.
Inspired by Gulliver’s Travels, Lilliput is an exhilarating and imaginative adventure filled with cunning escape plans, evil clock makers, and talkative parrots. Join Lily as she travels through eighteenth-century London―over rooftops, down chimneys, and into chocolate shops―on a journey to find the one place in the world where she belongs…home. Read an excerpt here and check out the discussion guide, great for middle grade book club!
In 1919, just before Christmas, the S.S. Ethie sets sail for St. John’s Harbor, but a violent winter storm casts the steamship onto the rocky cliffs of northwest Newfoundland, threatening the passengers’ survival. Ninety-two passengers and crew, all eager to be reunited with family for the holidays, are now at the mercy of the stormy sea. Seeing the wrecked ship off the coast, a fishing family sends their dog Skipper, a hardworking and courageous Newfoundland, to brave the icy and dangerous waters to carry a lifeline from the sinking ship to shore.
This minute-by-minute fictionalized account of the S.S. Ethie’s dramatic voyage vividly brings the adventure to life, showing the spirit of survival among the passengers and crew, as well as the strength and determination of a poor fishing family and their courageous dog to save those ninety-two souls. Read an excerpt here.
Murphy, Gold Rush Dog
Written by Alison Hart
Illustrated by Michael G. Montgomery
After escaping from his brutal and merciless owner, Murphy is taken in by a young girl named Sally. She and her mother have just arrived in Nome, Alaska, intent on joining the other gold seekers and making a new life. Yet even with Murphy at their side, Sally and Mama find living in the mining town harsh and forbidding. When it seems they may have to give up, Sally and Murphy decide to strike out on their own, hoping to find gold and make a permanent home. But dangers await them―not only blizzards and grizzly bears, but also Murphy’s original owner, who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.
This action-packed and heartwarming story explores the roles that dogs played during the Alaskan gold rush. Read an excerpt here. Check out the teacher’s guide and learn more about the award-winning Dog Chronicles series.
Written by Alison Hart
It is 1888. Twelve-year-old Anna loves life on the Nebraska prairie where she lives with her parents and four-year-old brother in a simple sod house. She doesn’t mind helping out with chores, especially when she is herding sheep with her beloved pony, Top Hat. On the open prairie, Anna feels at home. But at school she feels hopelessly out of place. Arithmetic is too hard, her penmanship is abysmal, and stuck-up Eloise Baxter always laughs at her mistakes. When an intense Nebraska blizzard traps Anna, her schoolmates, and young teacher in the one-room schoolhouse, Anna knows they must escape before it is too late. Does she have the courage and strength to lead her school through the whiteout to safety?
This dramatic story of rescue and survival, based on “The School Children’s Blizzard” features a plucky, determined protagonist. An author’s note provides more information about prairie life in the late nineteenth century and about the great storm that hit Nebraska in 1888. Read an excerpt here.
Skilley, an alley cat with an embarrassing secret, longs to escape his street-cat life. He hopes to trade London’s damp alleyways for the warmth of ye olde Cheshire Cheese Inn, so he strikes a bargain with Pip, an erudite mouse. Skilley will protect the mice who live at the inn, and in turn, the mice will provide Skilley with the thing he desires most. But when Skilley and Pip are drawn into a crisis of monumental proportions, their new friendship is pushed to its limits. The escalating crisis threatens the peace not only of the Cheshire Cheese Inn but also the British Monarchy!
New York Times best-selling author Carmen Agra Deedy and author Randall Wright collaborate on this compelling and playful homage to Charles Dickens set in Victorian England. With the stunning artwork of award-winning illustrator Barry Moser, The Cheshire Cheese Cat is filled with charming characters and important themes of friendship and loyalty. Read an excerpt here and check out the discussion guide!