Best Children's Picture Books About Winter and Snow

Reading To Her Daughter
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Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. Penguin Random House

It's no wonder John Schoenherr received the 1988 Caldecott Medal for his Owl Moon illustrations. The story by Jane Yolen and the artwork by Schoenherr beautifully capture a child's excitement at finally being old enough to go "owling" with her father. The little girl eloquently describes their late night walk through the cold and snowy woods.

Author Jane Yolen's words capture the mood of hushed expectancy and joy while John Schoenherr's luminous ​watercolors capture the wonder and beauty of the walk through the woods. It's apparent that the walk itself is what's important and getting to actually see and hear an owl is just the icing on the cake. Both the artwork and the text show the loving bond between father and child and the significance of their walk together. (Philomel, A Division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 1987. ISBN: 0399214577)

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. Penguin Random House

Ezra Jack Keats was known for his striking mixed media collages and for his stories and was awarded the Caldecott Medal for illustration in 1963 for The Snowy Day. During his early career illustrating books for different children's picture book authors, Keats was dismayed that an African-American child was never the main character.

When Keats began writing his own books, he changed that. While Keats had illustrated a number of children's books for others, ​The Snowy Day was the first book he both wrote and illustrated. The Snowy Day is the tale of Peter, a little boy who lives in the city, and his delight in the first snow of the winter.

While Peter's joy in the snow will warm your heart, Keats' dramatic illustrations will have you shivering! His mixed media collages include collage papers from a variety of countries, as well as oil cloth and other materials. India ink and paint are used in several ways besides the traditional ones, including stamping and spattering.

What most impresses me is the way Keats captures the effects of sunlight on snow. If you've ever been out in the snow, especially on a sunny day, you know that snow is not just white; many colors sparkle in the snow, and Keats captures that in his illustrations.

The Snowy Day is recommended for ages 3 to 6 in particular. It is one of seven picture books by Keats about Peter. For more of Keats's stories, see . (Penguin, 1976. ISBN: 9780140501827)

Snowballs by Lois Ehlert

Snowballs by Lois Ehlert
Snowballs by Lois Ehlert. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Lois Ehlert is a master of collage and Snowballs is a delightful look at a variety of snow people and animals that can be made with snowballs and household items like mittens, buttons, and nuts. Snowballs is told in the words of a child who, along with the rest of the family, has "been waiting for a really big snow, saving good stuff in a sack." That good stuff includes corn, bird seed, and nuts for the birds and squirrels to eat off of the snow creatures; hats, scarves, bottle caps, plastic forks, buttons, fall leaves, a man's tie, and more found objects. The photo collages feature fabric circles as snowballs that are transformed when stacked and decked out with features and accessories.

At the end of the book, there is a two-page photo feature showing all of the "good stuff," with captions, that the family used to make the snow people and animals. That spread is then followed by a four-page section about snow, including what it is and what makes it snow and featuring photographs of snowmen and other snow creatures. This book will appeal to children of all ages who enjoy playing in the snow, making their own snowballs and transforming them with good stuff. (Harcourt Children's Books, 1995. ISBN: 0152000747)

Stranger in the Woods by Carl R. Sams

Stranger in the Woods by Carl R. Sams
Stranger in the Woods by Carl R. Sams. Stranger in the Woods website

The full-page color photographs go a long way in telling the story of the Stranger in the Woods. In the woods, the bluejays caw, "Take care!" All of the animals are apprehensive because there is a stranger in the woods. The bluejays, chickadees, deer, owl, squirrels and other animals are not sure how to react. Little by little, starting with the birds, the animals in the forest follow the snow trail and come close enough to examine the stranger. They find a snowman.

Unbeknownst to them, a brother and sister had crept into the woods to build the snowman. They gave him a carrot nose, mittens, and a cap in which they make a dent so it could hold nuts and bird seed. They also left corn for the animals. A doe eats the snowman's carrot nose, while the birds enjoy the nuts and seed. Later, when a fawn finds a mitten on the ground, the animals realize that there is still another stranger in the woods.

Stranger in the Woods is a beautifully photographed, captivating book that will appeal to 3- to 8-year-olds. The book was written and illustrated by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick, who are professional wildlife photographers. Younger children will enjoy their book Winter Friends, a board book, which also includes exceptional nature photography. (Carl R. Sams II Photography, 1999. ISBN: 0967174805)

Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton

Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton
Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Young children love the story of Katy, a big red crawler tractor who saves the day when a huge snowstorm hits the city. With her big snow plow on, Katy responds to cries of “Help!” from the police chief, the doctor, the superintendent of the Water Department, the fire chief and others with “Follow me,” and plows the streets to their destinations. The repetition in the story and the appealing illustrations make this picture book a favorite with 3- to 6-year-olds.

The illustrations include detailed borders and a map. For example, a border with illustrations of the City of Geoppolis' trucks, diggers, and other heavy equipment surrounds an illustration of the Highway Department's building where all the vehicles are kept. A map of the City of Geoppolis with lots of red numbers on it includes a border of numbered illustrations of important buildings in the city that match the numbers on the map. Virginia Lee Burton, the award-winning author, and illustrator of Katy and the Big Snow won the Caldecott Medal in 1942 for her picture book The Little House, another classic childhood favorites. Burton's Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel is another family favorite. (Houghton Mifflin, 1943, 1973. ISBN: 0395181550)

Snow Crazy by Tracy Gallup

Cover art of Snow Crazy by Tracy Gallup, a children's winter picture book
Snow Crazy. Mackinac Island Press

Author and illustrator Tracy Gallup celebrates the joy of snow -- waiting for snow and playing in it when it finally arrives -- in Snow Crazy, an appealing little picture book. A little girl is eagerly awaiting the snow that has been forecast. She makes paper snowflakes, and she and her mother "laugh, drink hot chocolate, and stand in a [paper] snowdrift." Finally, the snow comes, and the little girl has a wonderful time playing in the snow with her friends, sledding, skating, making snow angels and building a snowman.

The illustrations are what make this story so appealing. They feature sculpted and hand painted dolls and props created by Tracy Gallup, who has been a professional doll maker for more than 25 years. Snow Crazy is best for 3- to 6-year-olds. (Mackinac Island Press, 2007. ISBN: 9781934133262)

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. Penguin Random House

The Snowman by English author and illustrator Raymond Briggs has intrigued and delighted young children since it was first published in 1978. At first sight, the book looks like a typical picture book, but it's not. While it is a fully developed story about a little boy who builds a snowman and then, in his dreams, provides an adventure for the snowman when he comes to life one night and the snowman then provides an adventure for the boy, it has an unusual format.

The Snowman is a wordless picture book, with significant comic-book aspects. The book is the size, shape, and length (32-pages) of a typical picture book. However, while it does include a few single and double-page spreads, almost all of the illustrations are done in comic-book format, with multiple panels of sequential art on each page (about 150 in all). The softly rounded panels and the misty illustrations create the sense of peacefulness that often comes after snow falls, making it a good book to enjoy at bedtime.

In discussing his use of pencil crayons and the absence of words, Raymond Briggs said, "You can draw lightly in color, then gradually make it sharper, clearer and darker, while coloring it at the same time. Furthermore, for this book, crayon has a softer quality, ideally suited to snow.

"The wordlessness also seemed right for snow, which always brings with it a feeling of silence and peace. The house in the book is my own house here, at the foot of the South Downs, a few miles from Brighton." ​(Source: Guardian book club 12/19/08)

The Snowman is recommended for ages 3 to 8. (Random House Books for Young Readers, 1978. ISBN: 9780394839738)