Books for a Snowy Day

Books for a Snowy Day 

When I was a school librarian, a rare Seattle snowfall was a great chance to pull out all the titles about snow from our collection, read a few, and scatter the rest on tables to be browsed during checkout time. There’s something entrancing about seeing the familiar made strange by just a few inches of snow

I remembered that sense of wonder anew when I woke up last Saturday morning to see little flakes coming down and our yard transformed by that fabled blanket of white; it was thrilling and slightly unearthly, like a whole new landscape right in front of us. 

Here are a few snowy books that can capture that magic and hold it in the reader’s mind until the next snowfall…or until the snow turns to slush and the magical becomes plain old wet yucky reality.

The Snowy Day, written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats. The classic tale of a little boy’s day spent playing in the snow. Kids love to predict what will happen to the snowball he brings inside to save. Winner of the 1963 Caldecott Medal for illustration.

Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr. This is one of those books that seems too gentle to appeal to real live children, until you read it aloud to a group of normally rowdy kindergarteners and see them just melt (no pun intended) into the story of a girl and her father who go out looking for owls one snowy night. John Schoenherr won a Caldecott Medal for the quietly luminous illustrations, and I can see why.

Snowflake Bentley, written and illustrated by Mary Azarian. Yet another Caldecott Medal winner—something about the topic of snow seems to inspire illustrators to really show their stuff. Azarian certainly does here, in a picture-book biography of a humble Vermont farm boy who made studying and photographing snowflakes his life’s work. Her woodcut illustrations are perfect for this rustic story, which may inspire your young scientist to study some snowflakes firsthand. (Tip: try to have some black cardboard on hand for optimal snowflake viewing.)

Froggy Gets Dressed, written and illustrated by Jonathan London. Poor Froggy—every time he goes out to play in the snow, he forgets part of his gear and has to be called back by his mom. The repeated call and response between the two (“FROOGGGGYYY!” “WHAAAAT!”) makes this title a blast to read aloud.

Snow in Jerusalem, by Deborah da Costa, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright & Ying-Hwa Hu. Two boys in Jerusalem —one Jewish, one Arab—argue over a stray cat they’re both feeding, until a snowfall helps them both see another way. The allegory in this tale might be obvious to adults, but kids really want to know what will happen to the cat. And I love how the book captures the sense of hope that snow can bring—a fresh layer of snow softens all those sharp edges, and promises a fresh start.

December 12, 2007

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I love The Snowy Day and Owl Moon.

As an older kid, I thought that Farmer Boy and The Long Winter and also The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe did a fantastic job of showing both the magic and the danger of snow.

Oh! Suzy and the Big Snow!

I mean Katie and the Big Snow. Why did I say Suzy?

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