10 Picture Books to Read With Your Kids This Winter

Parents reading with their young children
As we approach the coldest months of the year, you may be dreading those unstructured hours that used to be spent outside playing each day. The reality is that cold temperatures, early sunsets, and winter weather might have you confined to your home a little more than usual at this time of year. I mean, there are always those indoor playgrounds and amusement parks in which to spend the afternoon (pro tip: bring disinfectant wipes), but sometimes kiddos just need some quiet time at home.

Of course, the easiest option is to cuddle up on the couch and binge-watch a season of Daniel Tiger or Paw Patrol, though I’m guessing we’re all fairly aware of the World Health Organization’s recommendations on screen time: “Less is better.” So, it’s up to us to fill the days with more meaningful activities.

When I think of meaningful activities for my 3 and 5 year olds, I think of getting down on the floor with them and doing what they love most: building. We build with their magnetic tiles, we build a town on their car mat, or we build a fort with pillows and blankets. We certainly love to build over here! And we also love to read.

Our daily routine includes a book before naps/quiet time and another book as part of our bedtime routine, but the teacher in me loves when the kids ask me to read during what is normally playtime at our house. And the mom in me loves that we can utilize the themed book collections I’ve created over the years. Diving into those books each day is one of the most important things I do with and for my children.

When it’s time to put away the holiday books this year, what will you find on your shelves? Check out these 10 books I’m looking forward to highlighting with my kids this winter:

Collage of book cover images
  1. Cold and Hot by Jacqueline Sweeney: The best part of this picture book is the illustrations! I think back to my childhood’s snowy days in New York and completely connect to the main character as he bundles up to go out into the cold and snow. Maybe you and your kids can empathize too as you talk about how the illustrations help you better understand the story.
  2. The Storyteller’s Candle by Lucia Gonzales: Two children in the story are having a hard time adjusting to their new life in New York City, which is far from their home in Puerto Rico. But when a librarian comes to visit their class, their eyes are opened to the beauty of the public library and its important role in their community.
  3. SkySisters by Jan Bourdeau Waboose: This beautiful story gives a glimpse into the Ojibway culture as it follows two Ojibway sisters as they set off across the frozen north to see the SkySpirits’ midnight dance. Throughout the story, you’ll see the characters embrace the stillness and wonderful experience of seeing the SkySpirits or the northern lights.
  4. When This World Was New by D.H. Figueredo: Living in a new place with a completely different climate can be overwhelming! The young boy in this book learns to overcome his fears about his new home as he explores the freshly fallen snow.
  5. Claudia & Moth by Jennifer Hansen Rolli: Not usually a fan of winter, Claudia resents the fact that her favorite butterflies aren’t around anymore. But when she meets a moth, her whole outlook about winter changes.
  6. Curious About Snow (Smithsonian) by Gina Shaw: This nonfiction book displays exquisite images of snowflakes, showcasing how unique each one is. Along with the stunning photographs comes factual information about the science behind snow.
  7. Lemonade in Winter by Emily Jenkins: This brother and sister pair aren’t going to let a little winter stop them from having their lemonade stand. This cute story teaches about math concepts, such as profit and counting money, while highlighting a sweet relationship between the siblings.
  8. Iguanas in the Snow by Francisco X. Alarcon: The colorful pages in this book showcase a diverse group of people in the snow. The book includes short poems that tell about enjoying the winter season to the fullest.
  9. Immi’s Gift by Karin Littlewood: This lovely story shows how people can be connected over large distances, all the way from the frozen Arctic to tropical beaches. It also teaches readers that it can be winter in one place but not another! In this story, a young girl goes fishing to find colorful treasures on her fishing pole day after day. On her last fishing trip shown in the book, she puts an item back in the water and it washes up to a young boy across the world.
  10. Cold Snap by Ellen Spinelli: Your child may be able to relate to the characters in this book as they are losing hope that winter will never end. The community comes together for a winter surprise that’s warm and toasty! Be sure to pay extra attention to the illustrations that add more detail to the story that you won’t find in the text.

Whether your area offers plenty of cold and snow throughout the winter or you’re on the beach in the middle of January, snuggling up with a book is always a good choice. Not only does reading together improve your child’s reading skills and vocabulary, it also improves the parent-child bond. Enjoy the comfort and magic (and all those other wonderful benefits of reading together) in discovering new picture books with your child this winter!

By Jasmine Gibson, an educational consultant with expertise in early elementary education, supporting teachers, and designing curriculum. 

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