book list, seasons, weather, winter

Book List: Snow Day

For child and adult alike, nothing quite beats a snow day. The mundane familiar world we inhabit is suddenly transformed into a magical landscape. Nothing beats the serene calm & silence of a fresh blanket of snow. There’s a beauty to those nights when the moonlight reflects off the crystalline flakes covering the ground. These books succeed in capturing those feelings and emotions with some even teaching about science surrounding weather.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

For ages 3-5
I had to include this classic American piece of children’s literature if we’re going to talk about snow. Author Ezra Jack Keats was a children’s illustrator who was inspired to write his first solo book after seeing some photographs in a 1940 issue of Time Magazine of Black children playing in the snow. For the book’s text, he was inspired by the beautiful simplicity of Japanese haiku. The illustrations rely on collages of decorative paper and cloth. He even used a toothbrush and India ink to embellish the work. The result is a story that captures the wonder of playing in the snow from a child’s perspective. The Snowy Day is an absolute must for any wintertime reading and provides so much inspiration for artistic children & adults alike.

Blizzard by John Rocco

For ages 3-5
In 1978, John Rocco experienced a significant blizzard in his childhood Rhode Island hometown. As an adult, he’s written a wonderfully illustrated story about what that week was like. At the start of the week, young John is pleased with staying home from school and playing. Yet as the week progresses, he becomes worried about the food in the house, if his neighbors are okay, and even likes the idea of going back to school. Rocco’s art takes advantage of vast white landscapes, emphasizing how small he is against this force of nature. There are some beautiful surprises along the way, including a massive gatefold spread detailing his journey through the neighborhood when he begins to explore.

Snow by Sam Usher

For ages 3-5
The boy wants to get dressed and play in the snow, but he’s got to wait for Grandad to get ready. When our young protagonist finally gets outside, he’s upset with how many children beat him to it. Grandad remarks, “the whole zoo is probably out there,” which kicks off an amusing and charming story. It turns out that a giant snowball fight is happening in the nearby park, and it includes an elephant, giraffe, penguin, walrus, and more animals. Like Blizzard, Snow uses large white expanses punctuated with his lovely ink-and-watercolor drawings. This is a fantastic book for children who have a close bond with a grandparent, a reminder that snow days can be fun for kids of all ages.

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner
Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

For ages 4-8
While most of the books here feature snow in an urban setting, this one takes readers into the woods. Our narrator and their father wander through a snowy forest, and the text remarks upon what we can see and the bustle of life happening underneath this white blanket. Deer, bullfrogs, beavers, foxes, and more are featured in illustrations that recall the work of Jon Klassen. This book is a perfect introduction to hibernation for young readers, showing them how even though they may not see much when they go outside, so much is happening out of the range of their eyes. There’s a lot here that visually recalls older, classic lit (see The Snow Day) but with great scientific content.

Snow by Uri Shulevitz

For ages 4-8
If you are a fan of Maurice Sendak’s work, then writer-illustrator Uri Shulevitz offers a lot. There’s also an old-world European feel here that also recalls the work of Tomie DePaola. Snow is full of delightful details and provides plenty of reasons to re-read. A young boy is excited when the first snowflake falls but is constantly reminded by the grumpy adults in his town that nothing will happen. However, the flakes keep falling despite the negativity, and before you know it, the whole city is transformed. The story serves to remind us how important it is to retain that sense of joy and wonder and not become cynical like we adults are so prone to do. 

Snow Day! by Lester Laminack
Illustrated by Adam Gustavson

For ages 4-8
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of hearing the tv meteorologist tell you there’s a chance for heavy snow. That sense of anticipation and excitement builds as you check the radar and start to see those first flakes fall. Lester Laminack’s Snow Day! captures those emotions perfectly as they build to a fever pitch. We follow a brother and sister as they realize the potential snow day is coming and spend the evening imagining all the fun they will have the next day. Besides Gustavson’s luxurious & festive illustrations, the hilarious twist thrown at the reader on the final page will cement the whole story to memory. I won’t say more, but this is a perfect read for children and adults alike. 

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Illustrated by Mary Azarian

For ages 4-8
Unlike the other books on this list, this one is the true story of a scientist who taught us so much about snowflakes. Wilson Bentley (born in 1865) was fascinated by snow as a child. His parents scraped together enough money to buy him a camera with a microscope which he wanted to use to get a closer look at these falling flakes. For the next few decades, he would photograph the ice crystal structures that make up snow and inform so much of the world about how intricately beautiful this weather phenomenon truly is. The book is written in a lovely poetic style. The illustrations are gorgeous woodcuts full of texture and colored in blue snow shadows. This book pulls double duty as the biography of a scientist and a wonderful immersive winter experience, capturing the piles of Vermont snow that sparked Bentley’s curiosity all those years ago. 

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