Winter is a perfect time for reading with a child and rediscovering some of the best children's winter picture books out there. In the cold and snowy weather, it can feel so good to burrow into a big chair with a blanket and read by the fireplace or heater. Encouraging kids to read has so many benefits, so try digging up a few season-friendly books and finding out more about what the children you know like to read most.
Famous Winter Picture Books
- The Polar Express
This is one of the best-loved children's books of all time, and for good reason. It has magical qualities and became so popular through the years that a film version starring Tom Hanks was released in 2004. The illustrations of this book make it a real standout and won the Caldecott Medal in 1986 for its author, Chris Van Allsburg.
- Snowflake Bentley
This lovely book by Jacqueline Briggs Martin introduces kids to Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley, the first man who ever figured out how to photograph a single snowflake. Wilson loved the intricate, beautiful shapes of each flake and dedicated his life to chronicling snow in pictures. Another Caldecott winner, this book boasts gorgeous illustrations by Mary Azarian.
Best Children's Winter Picture Books
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Though not traditionally thought of as a winter book, this title by Judith Barrett ends with a picturesque mashed-potato snowfall and a sledding adventure. A classic just as relevant and enchanting today as it was at the time of its release. Kids will eat up the whimsical illustrations and many jokes in the text.
- The Little Match Girl
This heart-wrenching, fairy-tale-like story by Hans Christian Andersen has powerful, emotionally charged prose and is a must-read when introducing children to concepts of poverty, abuse, and charity. It's not an uplifting story, but it's an important one to share with children who mean the most to you. Delicate, sparse illustrations by Rachel Isadora are a perfect match to Andersen's words.
- Snow Day!
The words "snow day" are magical to all school-going kids, and this book by Lester L. Laminack (illustrations by Adam Gustavson) celebrates them by imagining the endless potential of a winter day away from class. It might involve sledding, hot chocolate, or a snowball fight-all the possibilities are here, as is the bitter disappointment of finding out that the weather forecaster may not have been entirely accurate with the prediction.
Playful verse and repetition make this book by Philip Eastman and Roy McKie one of the best children's winter picture books for young kids. The verses have a rhythm to them that's fun to read out loud, and older children will quickly memorize the short lines. This is a fun, quick book to read at bedtime.
- The Snowy Day
This classic by Ezra Jack Keats has a captivating cover illustration and beautiful artwork throughout, made from a mixture of collage, cut-paper, and drawings. The understated, timeless illustrations won Keats the 1963 Caldecott, and it was notable at the time of its release that this book featured an African-American child as its hero. The story is a true celebration of winter, featuring simple activities that become so much more thrilling when there's a blanket of snow on the ground.
Your local library is an excellent place to find more winter-themed children's books, and the catalog should guide you by allowing you to search by category or subject. Bookstores often feature seasonal stories, too, so try taking kids along there to let them browse and choose titles that appeal to them. If you know children who are too old for picture books but are still looking for stories with winter themes, try skimming chapter-book and young-adult sections or seeking out recommendations from teachers and librarians.