Written somewhere in the pages of The Every Girl’s Guide to Youth & Whimsy (once it exists) is this:
One shalt not venture into snow without balloons.
Because it just makes sense.
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.
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 Briggs
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
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 Yolen
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.
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
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.
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
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
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 Portis
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
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