“Winter is the time for home.”Edith Sitwell
A basket filled with books is a beautiful and powerful thing. Sitting patiently on a shelf or in a corner, it cradles so many opportunities. Imagination, connection, wonder, inspiration, and priceless snuggle time.
The humble book basket also has the ability to change our minds about things, if we let it. Take winter for example. Winter and I have not always been friends, but this year I’ve committed to changing that. I want to fall in love with winter and miss it when it’s gone, just as I do with all of the other seasons. Our little morning basket, carefully curated with winter favorites, has made all the difference.
Here are some of the winter books we love the best in our nature-based homeschool:
Favorite Winter Books for Our Morning Basket
Winter Story by Jill Barklem, from the Brambly Hedge series
The Brambly Hedge series reminds me a lot of the Beatrix Potter books. They are beautifully illustrated with wonderful language and sweet stories about a family of mice. Like Beatrix Potter, the word choices may sometimes be unfamiliar to an American audience, and a curious child may have questions about them the first time you read one of Barklem’s books aloud.
Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal
This is a wonderful book to inspire a bit of nature study. Exploring animals in winter, this book naturally lends itself to curiosity about hibernation, migration, and adaptation. As with all of Messner and Neal’s books, it is likely to become a favorite on your nature shelf.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Ah, the magic of the first snowfall! This book captures the wonder and joy of childhood in winter. With gorgeous, brightly colored artwork and a simple storyline, it makes an excellent choice for even the youngest children. (We love it so much, we include it in our pre-k curriculum, Blossom and Root Early Years.)
The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer
What makes the solstice / equinox series by Wendy Pfeffer so great is that it includes information about those significant events from the perspective of many cultures. An excellent selection for both science and cultural studies, this is a wonderful book to share around the time of the winter solstice. (Recommended in Blossom and Root First Grade Science: Wonders of the Earth and Sky, along with the rest of her series.)
Most of us likely heard this book as young children ourselves, and the magical quality only seems to improve with age. The story of a girl and her father “owling” on a bright, moonlit night will linger in your child’s imagination for many winters to come. (Appears in Blossom and Root Early Years, Vol. 2)
Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
There are few books I love more than those that seamlessly combine science, biography, and nature study. This book does that. It tells the story of Wilson Bentley, known for his prolific collection of stunning snowflake photographs. His vision may have been misunderstood initially, but his work has revealed tremendous insight into the science (and the art) of snowflakes. (Recommended in Blossom and Root First Grade Science: Wonders of the Earth and Sky.)
Animals in Winter by Henrietta Bancroft and Richard G. Van Gelder
Another excellent choice to explore the behaviors and adaptations of animals in the winter months. Though it reads much more like a science book and less like a story, it does deliver a lot of great information on a level young children can understand. If you want to delve into a winter animal unit, this would be a solid addition to your book basket.
Stranger in the Woods by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick
This book is pure magic! It was a half-hearted impulse buy at a used bookstore and I couldn’t believe how gorgeous it was when it got home with it. Unlike the selections I’ve mentioned so far, it is illustrated with photographs of real animals. This story of woodland creatures trying to make sense of a snowman left among them is so sweet–highly recommend!
When I went to grab the link for this, I discovered there is an entire series of these amazing books! Oh my goodness–this could be dangerous!
Whose Tracks Are These? A Clue Book of Familiar Forest Animals by James Nail
There is an interactive quality to this selection, and it’s excellent for younger children and elementary children alike. Tracks are a fascinating nature study topic all year round, but especially so in winter. This is a great choice to read prior to a hike or a nature outing.
White Wonderful Winter! by Elaine W. Good
Part of an entire series on the seasons as they are experienced by a young child in the country, this colorfully illustrated selection has been a favorite of mine for years. I used to read it to my kindergarten class every December back in my teaching days. Good’s books capture the sensory experience of each season perfectly.
The Story of the Snow Children by Sibylle von Olfers
This is a very sweet story, but it’s the artwork that keeps me coming back. The art-nouveau style drawings exquisitely portray the imagination and wonder of the winter world from a child’s point of view. This (very tiny) book is a great choice for younger children.
Ollie’s Ski Trip by Elsa Beskow
Another very little book, this selection is one of my oldest daughter’s favorites. Like all of Beskow’s books, this one takes us to a world where forces of nature are alive in the form of mythical figures like Jack Frost and King Winter. It has an epic quality, and though very young children will certainly enjoy it, it will resonate on a different level with early elementary children.
Grandmother Winter by Phyllis Root
Inspired by a character from German folklore (Mother Holle, or the Goddess Holda), this beautifully illustrated story captures the special rhythm of winter. It makes a wonderful book to set the mood for the months to come, and is perfect for younger children to middle elementary.
This book is a quick read, with very little in the way of words. Its magic rests in both the lovely illustrations and the anticipation of the child in the story. One snowflake falls, then another, and soon the world is covered in a blanket of snow! Perfect for younger children.
Based on a Ukrainian folktale, The Mitten is a staple of many a childhood. Of course, Jan Brett’s version is excellent, but there’s something about Tresselt’s version that really speaks to me. Whether it is the different cadence of Tresselt’s story-telling or the captivating (and far less overstimulating) artwork by Ukrainian artist Yaroslava, this is the version I prefer for our basket, year after year.
The Story Blanket by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz
This is an excellent book to read during the holiday season. A folklore-esque story of love, community, and kindness, The Story Blanket remind us of the importance of looking out for one another. Even the smallest gesture of kindness can impact the connectivity of an entire community. Wonderful for both younger and older children.
The Tomten and The Tomten and the Fox by Astrid Lindgren
From the author of the Pippi Longstocking books, the Tomten stories are a perfect way to sprinkle a little winter magic before bedtime. These are both sweet and mysterious, evocative and soothing. They even inspired our winter nature table this year! (Click here to take a peek!)
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I’ve included our favorite long read-aloud for the winter months, because we love it so very much. I don’t know what it is, but this book always evokes winter for me. It makes a wonderful read-aloud for older children, though my seven-year old has listened raptly to it twice in two years. The BBC dramatisation on audible is very good, even if it leaves quite a bit out. It may be a nice option for younger audiences, and parents who are not quite ready to read the full novel out loud.
There are enough titles in the above selections for us to rotate happily all winter long. I absolutely love our winter morning basket!
What are your favorite winter books for children? Please share in the comments!
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