The Best Winter Picture Books to Read with Kids
Winter is the perfect season to spend time reading aloud. With the cold & flu season, chilly weather, and short hours of sunlight, sometimes we all just need a break! Enter, winter picture books. Enjoy my curated list of the best winter picture books that will keep kiddos occupied during dreary winter days. These books are filled with bears, sledding, skiing, snow-plows, and more–all organized into one easy-to-reference booklist.
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The Best Winter Picture Books
- books about snow
- book about winter wildlife
- wordless books
- books about winter sports
Books About Snow
You can’t have a collection of winter picture books without some snow! These five books will get you started.
Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton
Katy, a crawler tractor, is the pride of the city of Geoppolis. There seems to be nothing she can’t do, from pulling a steamroller out of a pond to plowing incalculable amounts of snow. When a giant snowfall descends on Geoppolis, Katy gets a chance to use her power and skill. Read and discover how she repeatedly saves the day in Geoppolis with her determination and persistence.
Small Walt by Elizabeth Verdick, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal
Walt’s dilemma is this: he is the city’s smallest snowplow and thus, consistently underestimated. When Gus, a driver, gives him a chance to plow with all his might, he is determined to prove he is up for the challenge. Snowplow aficionados (especially in the 3+ age range) will enjoy the story that ensues. The retro-style illustrations (that recall Virginia Lee Burton’s classic, Katy and the Big Snow) are my favorite part. Ages 4-8.
Small Walt and Mo the Tow by Elizabeth Verdick, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal
Small Walt and Mo the Tow is the sequel to Small Walt featuring the same charming storytelling and illustrations. When a car slides off into the ditch on a snowy day, Small Walt and Mo the Tow (together with their drivers, Gus and Sue) must attempt a rescue. Plenty of “varroooomms”, rumble-grumbles, and engine humming to keep things exciting as you read aloud. Ages: 4-8.
Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Mary Azarian
This 1999 Caldecott Medal Winner begins with “a boy who loved snow more than anything else in the world.” Mary Azarian’s woodcut illustrations paired with the biography from Jacqueline Briggs Martin make for a winter picture book that will have you amazed both at Bentley’s scientific pursuits and the wonder of snow itself. Age range: 4-8 years. Full review here.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The Snowy Day is a classic. From the very first pages where Peter makes tracks in the snow, “like this”, then “like that”, to further on when he brings a snowball indoors (and is confused when he can’t find it later!), children will recognize and relate to the joy that a snow-covered world brings. A delightful story and a piece of history that deserves a place in your winter picture book collection. Age range: 2-5 years (but you can really read it with any age). My rating: 5/5. Caldecott Award Winner.
Books About Winter Wildlife
For the kids who love reading about animals, these winter picks won’t disappoint!
A Bear’s Year by Kathy Duval & Gerry Turley
A Bear’s Year begins with a bear drifting into sleep for the winter. Newborn cubs are revealed, and we get to watch them grow as the seasons move forward. The book ends as it began, in winter. But, this time, mama prepares to hibernate with her cubs alongside her. “Last year’s cubs, almost grown, dream they’ll soon be on their own.” I love the sparse text paired with the sweeping illustrations. This short picture book is a great choice to wind down before bedtime or naps. Ages 3-7.
The Mitten, written and illustrated by Jan Brett
When a young boy, Nicki, loses one of his snow-white mittens, readers get to watch as curious animals start to crawl inside. Just how many animals can fit inside a child-sized mitten? You’ll have to read to the end to find out! A retelling of a classic Ukrainian folk tale, illustrated in Brett’s distinctive style. Age range: 3-5 years.
Over and Under the Snow, by Kate Messner with art by Christopher Silas Neal
A father and daughter cross-country ski through snow-covered woods discovering what is over and what is under the snow. From the first sighting of a red squirrel we learn there is a “secret kingdom” hidden underneath the surface of the snow. Readers will learn more about this and see the winter behaviors of deer, voles, bullfrogs, foxes, and more. Adults will likely learn a thing or two as they read this one as well! The age range is listed from 5-8 years, but I think kids aged 3 and 4 years (especially animal lovers) will enjoy it too.
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and illustrated by John Schoenherr
Illustrated with watercolor scenes (that earned the book the 1988 Caldecott Medal), the author tells the poetic story of a young girl going out owling with her father. They crunch through crisp snow on a winter’s night hoping to catch a glimpse of a Great Horned Owl. Pa makes owl calls as they traipse through the cold waiting for an answer. When an owl eventually responds we experience the quiet excitement as the owling party sees what they have come for. A thoughtful, contemplative book perfect for bedtime or settling down some busy kids! Age range: 3-7.
The Snowy Nap, written and illustrated by Jan Brett
Hedgie just can’t bear to hibernate and miss winter AGAIN! But in the middle of the frostiest cold, he can hardly keep his eyes open. This is when Lisa (another recurring Brett character) finds him and rescues him. Hedgie finally gets a chance to view the wonders of winter…all from his cozy windowsill perch in Lisa’s home. Features Brett’s signature border illustrations. Age range: 4-8. Full review here.
Where Is Home, Little Pip? by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman
In Where Is Home, Little Pip?, we meet a small baby penguin named Little Pip. When she wanders too far from home we follow along as she tries to find her way back once again. From the author/illustrator team that created Bear Snores On, don’t miss this sweet winter picture book. Filled with rhyming songs and onomatopoeia it is well-suited to reading aloud and a heartwarming choice for bedtime. Ages 4-8. Also look for What’s in the Egg, Little Pip and Don’t Be Afraid, Little Pip.
Winter Dance by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by Richard Jones
“’Winter is coming,’ says the fox. ‘What should I do?’” A poetic book all about what various animals (such as a squirrel, goose, or snowshoe hare) do during winter. The fox in question is unsure about what he should do during winter. Finally, it’s another fox that points the way. Bauer is a Minnesota dweller like myself, so I particularly enjoyed her take on winter in this unique picture book. Age range: 4-7 years. Also available in a beautiful board book!
How do you feel about wordless books? Sometimes I like to read Amazon reviews to get a sense of how books are working for other families. Wordless books always have at least several people who are VERY DISAPPOINTED THERE WERE NO WORDS.
But I encourage you to embrace the lack of words and the interaction with your kiddos that will ensue. Asking questions, back-and-forth, letting your child narrate, etc. These favorite winter picture books will get you started with wordless stories!
Red Sled by Lita Judge
Red Sled is a wordless picture book includes onomatopoeia words that give you something to cling to if you really can’t handle the no words thing. In this story, when a young child leaves a red sled outdoors for the night, a curious bear approaches. Next thing we know, he is taking it for a joy ride. Other animals pile on until the sled hits maximum capacity. The sled is returned, but the next day the young owner might have a few suspicions…
Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell
Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell
Wolf in the Snow is a story of young girl walking home (in a lot of snow!) who becomes lost. She meets up with a wolf cub, also lost, and the way they find their way home is an adventurous (and sweet) story. The wordless format (other than the occasional onomatopoeia word) leaves lots of room to interact with the book. I love how even as the human characters are bundled up against the cold Cordell manages to portray great emotion with just bits of their faces peeking out. Winner of the 2018 Caldecott Medal.
Books About Winter Sports
Everyone needs to laugh now and then–especially when winter is droning on and on…so definitely don’t miss Chris Van Dusen’s Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee when you are choosing winter picture books!
A Day for Skating by Sarah Sullivan, illustrated by Madeline Valentine
You’ll feel the crisp chilled air and whoosh of skates in these illustrations! Rhyming couplets form the story of this sweet new book, which begins, “Mittens, boots, parka, cap. Crisp cold. Branches snap.” Skating, falling, snacking, gliding and the day grows long with the winter sport. Soon the skaters return home to thaw out and head to bed. Then, “Night grows deeper. Day is gone.” We get one more glance at the skating pond and discover a little surprise: “Now who’s skating round the pond?”. You’ll have to grab the book to see! Ages: 3-7.
Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen
“One winter morning at 6:53, Mr. Magee and his little dog, Dee,
Woke to fresh snow and a beautiful sky
And decided, “It’s time to give skiing a try!”
Mr. Magee jumps in wholeheartedly (with his little dog Dee in a backpack behind him!) and decides it’s time to learn how to ski. The story (all in rhyme that flows impeccably) is wildly fun. If you’re reading this aloud to your kids, you too will undoubtedly be amused as you discover the escalating adventure on each page. A wonderfully funny and wholly creative winter picture book. I love it!
Enjoy, friends! Now you tell me, what are some of YOUR favorite winter picture books?