Picture Books for Snow Days

Hooray for a week of snow days right after winter vacation!…said no mom ever. And yet, we did okay. Unfortunately, the temperatures were dangerously cold so we couldn’t really make the most of our snow days and cabin fever set in quickly. By the end of the week the roads were better, and Mia and I ventured to the library with a purpose: to compile a loot of snow-themed picture books.

On the way home, Mia looked at the return date on our receipt.

“Wow,” she said. “We have a lot of days to celebrate these books.”

Yeah. She said “celebrate”.

And if ever there was a book form to be celebrated it is the picture book. Below are our top picks for snow days. Most we own or have read before, but some I’ve only read about. Obviously, these are not all the snow-themed picture books ever to be published in history so if you have any to add, please do so in the comments! I’d like to put together a list for middle grade and YA too so please chime in if you have any to recommend.

snow books at the library

“We should’ve brought a suitcase.” ~Mia

snow books  Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton

Katy the snowplow wants to be useful, and she gets her chance when a big snow storm covers the little town of Geoppolis. Everyone, including firemen and doctors, is dependent on Katy, and she doesn’t disappoint.

Good for ages: 2-6

Good to know: It’s a classic. Teachers and parents have touted its potential introduction to maps and use of repetition.




The Snowman by Raymond Briggssnow books

A boy builds a snowman who comes alive in his dreams at night. A magical  and hushed wordless picture book, The Snowman is a timeless classic.

Good for ages: preschool and older

Good to know: wordless; won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award







snow books  The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

If you’ve ever watched a child experience snow for the first time you know how magical and wondrous it is. Jack Ezra Keats tries (and succeeds) in recreating that magic with the humble adventures of a small boy and his innocent escapades in the snow.

Good for ages: preschool and up

Good to know: The Snowy Day won the Caldecott Medal in 1963. According to Horn Book magazine, it was “the very first full-color picture book to feature a small black hero.”



Owl Moon by Jane Yolensnow books

Disclosure: I know Jane personally, and I hold her and her work in the highest esteem (I also love owls), so I might be a bit biased, but if the hushed magic of a girl and her father’s nighttime winter search for an owl played out among gloriously illustrated pages is what you’re looking for, this is the book for you.

Good for ages: preschool to 8 years (according to the publisher), birth to infinity (according to me)

Good to know: Owl Moon won the Caldecott Medal in 1988.






snow books  The Snow Day by Komako Sakai

After a full week of school cancellations and snow emergencies and winter weather advisories, I can empathize with little rabbit’s sentiment: “We are all alone in the world.” He’s referring, of course, to the stillness of a morning fogged by falling snow and the isolation of being confined to the house. Add to that the predicament of his father’s whereabouts: stranded in a different city. Waiting for the snow to stop so he can go out to play and waiting for his father’s return can be oh so difficult for a little rabbit who just wants to play in the snow. This one has a satisfying and comforting ending, especially for those of us who know firsthand the wonder of nighttime walks after snowfall.

Good for ages: 3-5 years

Good to know: The Snow Day received starred reviews in Publisher’s Weekly and School Library Journal.



Snow by Uri Shulevitz snow books

First, there is no snow. Then there is just one flake. All the grown-ups say it won’t amount to anything or it will melt, but a boy and his dog have faith. Gradually, their city is transformed into a snowy playground. With sparse and poetic text, Shulevitz intends to say more with beautifully muted watercolors than with words, and he succeeds as readers are gifted the magical transformation of a city.

Who should read this book: children ages 3-7 years

Good to know: Snow was a 1998 New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year and a 1999 Caldecott Honor Book.





snow books  Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Snowflake Bentley is a biographical picture book about a man who saw snowflakes as small miracles and took photographs of them so that others could witness the wonder of the tiny crystal. His obsession with snowflakes was misunderstood at the time, but his work ultimately documented two important truths: 1) no two snowflakes are exactly alike, and 2) and each one is beautiful. Many of Bentley’s photographs are still used in nature photography today.

Who should read this book: children 4-8 years old , though in my opinion older children could enjoy this one as well.

Good to know: Snowflake Bentley won the Caldecott Medal in 1999.



Henry and Mudge in the Sparkle Days by Cynthia Rylant snow books

If you have a beginning reader and haven’t yet discovered Henry and Mudge, get thee to a bookstore or library stat. Rylant has been known to spend little to no time on revision (on anything she’s ever written). This is evident, in my opinion, in some of the Henry and Mudge books, but Mia loves them. Henry and Mudge in the Sparkle Days, however, is warm and loving and fun.

(My hesitancy to them could have to do with the fact that Mia was obsessed with one particular Henry and Mudge book when I was pregnant with the boys. This was long before she could read, and for some reason whenever I read it to her, which was at least twice a day, I became overwhelmed with nausea. That book was conveniently misplaced for a few months before magically reappearing on her bookshelf.)

Who should read this book: beginning readers

Good to know: has the mysterious potential to induce pregnancy related nausea



snow books  It’s Snowing! by Olivier Dunrea

It’s Snowing! is the story of a new mother introducing her baby to snow for the first time. After sledding and building a snow troll and a baby bear ice sculpture, they retreat inside to the cozy glow of the fire.

  Good for ages: 3-6 years






A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portissnow books

Edna is a determined penguin in search of color. So far, she only knows of three: white ice, black night and blue sea. So she sets off  in search of something new, and she finds it. Her discovery, however, doesn’t mean she’s through searching.

Good for ages: 4-8 years

Good to know: A Penguin Story received a starred review in School Library Journal





snow books  The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino

How do snowflakes form? The Story of Snow will tell you how. This study of the science of snow features visually stunning watercolor and ink pictures along with close-up photos of snow crystals. It even includes snow-catching instructions.

Good for ages: preschool-4th grade

Good to know: The Story of Snow received a starred review from Booklist.




And a few more to add to the list:

Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London

Jan Brett’s Snowy Treasury by Jan Brett

Hello, Snow! by Hope Vestergaard

Snowballs by Lois Ehlert

Snow Day! by Lester Laminack


Dear Mia,

I don’t know what time you woke up this morning. I do know that as my eyes fluttered open at 6:30 to the sounds of your brothers’ voices coming through the monitor, you were sitting next to me in bed, reading a book. Have I told you lately how much I adore you?

Reading picture books

Not too long ago you held a paperback book in your hands. “Mommy, I love this sound,” you said, bending the pages so they crackled, making them speak.

We decided recently that one of our favorite words is kokoshnik. We talked about the way the front end pops (ko-ko) and the back end sizzles (shhh…nik). Sometimes you will recite a word or a sentence over and over just to hear the way it knocks against the roof of your mouth or rolls to the front of your tongue. You count syllables and compare rhyming words. Yesterday — for fun and just because — you made a list of “H brother” words, separated into different categories: ch, th, wh, sh, etc. You wouldn’t let me help you, wanting to come up with the words all on your own. You were going to turn those words into a book, you said, and I have no doubt you will. My files are already filling with your books.

When your dad was a little boy, he would ball his hands into fists and smell them. It’s still a quirk of his, this movement so repetitive and quick that it’s become subconscious. You? You smell books. You smell a lot of other things too (you two share this keen olfactory sense that’s so foreign to me), but always you crack the spine of a book and bury your nose in those pages.

There’s something about the beauty of a book, isn’t there, in its tangibility and also in its inventiveness and its truths among fairy tales? In its subjectivity according to the perspective of its reader. The way lives and worlds are born in the space of words. The way we can come to the same book and take from it different interpretations. There’s something about the way letters connect to form words that string together sentences to build paragraphs that construct a story. And within that story, characters and places both real and make-believe that have the power to transport us. Reading is an escape but also a way to connect to something within us that we can’t necessarily name.

But I don’t have to tell you this, Mia. You already know.

If you’re on Instagram you know about Throwback Thursday (#tbt). Consider this my #tbt video: a 3-year-old Mia “reading”. (One of the books we read so much that she memorized it.) Also, she’s totally speaking Turkish.