“Couch time” is a term my friend Alison uses all the time when describing “best practices” in homeschooling – everyone cozies up on the couch for a good read aloud. It’s great for all ages and often goes well with a cup of tea or hot cocoa in the wintertime! I love putting out a basket of books on top of the games cabinet just for “couch time,” whenever it may show up.
Today, I share my favorite wintertime books. Enjoy your “couch time!”
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The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco
Based on a cherished childhood memory of Polacco’s, this is a beautiful story celebrating the miracle of true friendship during the winter holiday season. While Trisha’s family is getting ready for Hanukkah, complete with her Babushka’s delicious potato latkes and her Grampa’s carved wooden animals, their neighbors are unable to prepare for Christmas because they are all bedridden with scarlet fever. Trisha’s family is one of the few who has been spared from the epidemic; how can they enjoy their Hanukkah feast when they know that their neighbors won’t be able to celebrate Christmas? Then Grampa has an inspiration: they will cut down trees, decorate them with his carved animals, and secretly deliver them to the neighbors. Many miracles occur here during a holiday season of multiple faiths.
Ollie’s Ski Trip by Elsa Beskow
Elsa Beskow books are such treasures! Here is the book that tells the story of King Winter and his struggle with Mrs. Thaw (a scene that many families like to recreate on their nature tables). When Ollie gets his first pair of skis and the snow begins to fall, he’s off for a day of exploring in the woods. Ollie meets Jack Frost, who keeps shooing away Mrs. Thaw on their way to the palace of King Winter. All kinds of snow adventures arise. Beautiful pictures here!
Around the Year by Elsa Beskow
There is a delightful verse and playful picture for each month of the year in this book, from icy February to the green shoots of April, the red poppies of July, September’s apples and Christmas in December. These verses could become part of circle time, or even be the basis of drawings or paintings you do to create a calendar for the year.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The sense of possibility and wonder are captured in this book like no other! That first snowfall is pure joy, like a whole new world. I just love the scene of taking a stick to a branch and “plop” the snow falls off. We all hold out the hope of capturing and keeping that sense of wonder forever.
The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader
One of our family’s all-time favorites! The woodland animals all know what to do when winter comes – the geese fly south, the raccoon and chipmunk sleep until spring, and the deer grow thick, warm coats. When the snow begins to fall, they are all ready. This is a gentle, peaceful book with such expressive pictures of all the animals preparing for the big snow.
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Another favorite that captures a child’s anticipation of being invited to go out into the wintry night to look for owls. The awe is captured beautifully here; one has to be quiet when looking for owls!
Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Another Caldecott Medal winner here. This is the story of Wilson Bentley who grew up in Vermont and always saw snowflakes as small miracles. One day, he began photographing snowflakes, capturing their tiny crystals. His patience and determination revealed two important truths: no two snowflakes are alike; and each one is startlingly beautiful. This is a true story, accompanied by lovely woodcuts. We learn about Bentley’s vision as a scientist and his perseverance, along with his clear passion for the wonders of nature.
“Of all the forms of water the tiny six-pointed crystals of ice called snow are incomparably the most beautiful and varied.” — Wilson Bentley (1865-1931)
What are your favorite seasonal books for wintertime to read on the couch with your children?
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