Favorite Seasonal Books to Read with Children

“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 GoatsThe 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 YearAround 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 DayThe 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

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

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 BentleySnowflake 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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30 thoughts on “Favorite Seasonal Books to Read with Children

  1. These are all wonderful recommendations! I keep hearing about the story of Snowflake Bentley lately. Thanks so much for sharing these!

    1. Thanks, Emmie! Snowflake Bentley is a relatively new discovery for us, too. There are so many gentle life lessons in it, like perseverance and the absolute wonder of nature. Hope you get a chance to read it this winter!

  2. Hey – I need some couch time! I love The Tree of Cranes by Alan Say and The Mitten by Jan Brett . Loved your book list! Alison

    1. Hey – me too! Maybe that’s what made me think of you! No more little ones here to snuggle up with for these great read-alouds. But with my teen, we do read poetry together on the couch! The Mitten is another good one. I’ll have to check out The Tree of Cranes. Thanks for sharing, my friend!

  3. SO many titles to write down this morning. LOVING the blog hop!
    PS I love the layout of this post. Will have to implement the right and left photo thing.

    1. Yes, LOVING the blog hop! And thanks about the layout. I’m loving learning about wordpress – more than I ever thought I would! Weird about the posts not going out automatically this morning though. I haven’t figured that one out yet. xxoo

  4. I am already signed up, having received this blog hop via email. I appreciate this list. Some are favorites of ours, too, and some are new to me! I love seeing the Patricia Polacco book. She is a ‘local’ favorite to many I know. Happy Holidays!

    1. Thanks, Nicola! I just love Patricia Polacco books. Her stories are always touching and her artwork amazing! Happy Holidays to you too!

      1. Hi Jean. This hopping is fun. Do you know Patricia Polacco’s Christmas Tapestry? Love the intergenerational, interfaith theme!

        1. I don’t know that one, Siobhan! I’ll have to look at the library tomorrow. Intergenerational and interfaith is good. Glad you’re enjoying the hop. I’m having fun too!

  5. Hi Jean,
    I too want “couch time” with your wonderful collection of books! Your descriptions of your “snow” books are so enchanting that I want to try to find them for my children. (who have only experienced being in the quiet of snow two times in their lives) Thanks so much for sharing…Much aloha, Lori

    1. My list definitely reflects my geographic home in northeastern Ohio! We get “lake effect” snow here, and that first big snow is always magical. Everything is so quiet and our rushing around comes to a halt. Hope you have luck finding some of these books in your part of the world! We have a friend who just moved here from Arizona and I just love watching her joy at seeing snow for the first time!

    1. Yes! My favorite in this book is the illustration for the month of November (maybe because that’s when my birthday is!) The poem is about how cold and grey November is: “Grey is November, except by the bright fire, with a story, a cushion for the cat, the dark shut outside, and the light in the flames…” Mama and the children around the fire for a story!

  6. As I wrote in my hop post, An Orange for Frankie by Polacco is my favorite Christmas book. The Trees of the Dancing Goat sounds exactly wonderful. I am also excited about Snowflake Bentley — I love those magical books that show the glory of God’s creation through the lens of close observation.

    I love your thoughts on coming to a halt at the first snow and how quiet and wondrous it is. We live in a tropical locale now and I wouldn’t trade it for our former snowbound home. But I have been pondering lately the lovely benefits to cold weather for family cocooning.

    Enjoy your couch time. I wonder if that poetry book Sheila recommended about the beauty of Christmas might figure in.

    I think I’m maxed out on my library requests because of this wonderful hop! Thank goodness I have power over three other family cards (;

    1. Yes, this hop has been so great to discover new, special books! Did you see Siobhan’s recommendation for another Polacco book: Christmas Tapestry? We have a winter snow warning in effect tonight – freezing rain and snow coming down as I write this…so I’m looking forward to some couch time tomorrow! Stories connect us in such sweet ways. It is great to have many library cards to use, for sure. Happy Holidays, Mama.

      1. Yes, Christmas Tapestry is also in route to our branch. I have the feeling that next year’s Christmas Books post is going to be longer. Ah, life is great!

        Enjoy your couch time xo

  7. Love that I discovered your blog on my book search…now, the challenge is limiting myself to one book per child that we can read together night after night and truly cherish!

    1. Yes, very cool! And how they love to hear stories over and over. I also like to pick a book a week this time of year as a family read aloud. Enjoy your time with them!

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