scarves of red tied ’round their throats…five for a winter’s day

We’re only dreaming of a white Christmas here in Minneapolis, with bare ground and not a flake of snow in the forecast. Still, whether your weather is conducive to snowy scenes or not, you’ll enjoy these beautiful wintertime offerings.

Ten Ways to Hear Snow, written by Cathy Camper, illustrated by Kenard Pak
published in 2020 by Kokila

If you grow up in the North, you understand exactly what it means to hear snow. The muffled silence of a fresh, deep layer of powder. The high-pitched squeak of snow under boots and tires on the coldest days.

In this warm, multigenerational, story Lina walks to her Grandma Sitti’s to help make warak enab — Lebanese stuffed grape leaves. It’s the morning after a blizzard. Because Sitti’s eyesight is failing, Lina has become more attuned to other senses as a way of experiencing the world, and along her walk she counts the many ways she can hear the fresh snowfall, from the scrape of snow shovels to the gentle poof of snow clumps falling from tree branches.

I’m especially glad to see multicultural stories set in wintery locales and this story deftly introduces a family of Arabic origin in a snowy cityscape. Kenard Pak’s artwork is, as always, lovely. The icy blue of a winter’s day in weak sunlight, the softening effect of snow muting every surface, the elegance of bare tree branches stretching towards the sky, the warmth that envelops the interiors of Sitti’s assisted-living residence — every detail contributes to the tone of beauty, love, and mindfulness. It’s a superb addition to the winter canon, for ages 4 and up.

Snow Birds, written by Kirsten Hall, illustrated by Jenni Desmond
published in 2020 by Abrams Books for Young Readers

I love watching birds at my feeder in wintertime, and marvel frequently over their ability to survive the harsh, cold days.

Kirsten Hall is likewise an admirer of these tiny featherballs. She has crafted poems for seventeen different species celebrating their ways of coping with winter. Beginning with the last days of fall, journeying through the darkest, coldest stretches of winter, and ending with the promise of spring, we briefly meet chickadees and cardinals, puffins and snowy owls via lines as minimal and graceful as their subjects.

Whatever Jenni Desmond illustrates, I snatch up. Once again she brings enormous beauty to every page with a great variety of compositions that make every spread a fresh treat. Back pages include short informative blurbs on every featured bird pitched for older readers where you can find out, for example, that chickadees enter a hypothermic state every night to help them survive. Fascinating! Super nature read for ages 4 and up.

First Snow, written and illustrated by Peter McCarty
published in 2015 by Balzer + Bray

The gang from Fall Ball is back, this time for a joyous romp in the snow. A special guest has arrived as well. Cousin Pedro has come a long way for a visit and it’s his first time to see snow. Is he excited about that?

No. He is not. Snow sounds like a lot of cold and Pedro is not fond of the cold. As his cousins explode with enthusiasm over bundling up, plumping into the powdery white stuff to make snow angels, Pedro remains utterly unconvinced. When they move on to sledding, will Pedro warm up to the cold? Love these merry, energetic stories for ages 2 and up.

Winter Sleep: A Hibernation Story, written by Sean Taylor and Alex Morss, illustrated by Cinyee Chiu
published in 2019 by words & pictures

Granny Sylvie has a lovely cottage in the countryside where her lucky grandson gets to visit. In summer they amble about splashing in a pond or spying on a dormouse in a secret glade in the woods.

When he goes to Granny’s in winter, though, everything looks quiet, bare, dead. “Nothing is alive!” he says, but Granny knows better. She leads him on a snowy nature walk and tells him about all the ways animals sleep through the winter –bats snuggling in a cave, frogs burrowing into mud, bears denning up.

Gorgeous artwork allows us to walk right alongside these two and enter the frosty world of the forest. Nine pages at the end provide illustrated information on the hibernation habits of all sorts of critters from polar bears to ladybugs. The whole package is beautiful, a treat for ages 4 and up.

Snow Song, written by A.K. Riley, illustrated by Dawn Lo
published in 2020 by Kids Can Press

Enjoy a snowy day in the city park with a crew of bundled-up friends!

Riley’s text sings of the ways snow moves, how it twirls, curls, swirls, how it looks and feels. Her lovely rhythms and vivid language create an exquisite portrait of a winterscape. Lo’s chunky kids are vibrantly happy, toasty warm in their parkas and boots even as they puff out frosty breaths and careen down sledding hills. A thoroughly happy choice for ages 2 and up.

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Snuggle up with dozens more of my favorite winter reads that you can find in my Winter Stories list here.

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