I get so excited to put away the books from one season or holiday and bring out the books for the next. And while I staunchly refuse to put up a single Christmas decoration (or unpack the box of Christmas pop-up books) until the day AFTER Thanksgiving – I’m willing to give a little leeway in my fall-to-winter turnover.
There’s a point where fall gives up. Overnight, it changes from crisp-aired, brightly colored, crunchy-leaved wholesomeness into chill, damp, murky blahsville. That’s when I’m ready to forget fall. I dive, instead, into the dream of a white winter – and pull out wintery favorites about snowmen, mittens, and wild toboggan rides.
This year, I’ve gone beyond the classic favorites and gathered up a particularly fine selection of NEWLY RELEASED winter-themed picture books.
I’ve paired each to a project that teachers, librarians or room parents could easily use as an extension activity as a lesson or as part of a winter party.
Winter-themed read-alouds are absolutely perfect for classroom parties, as they manage to invoke many of the special things about the season while appealing to kids of all religious denominations and backgrounds. You’ll want to Pin this selection for your next classroom celebration.
Any of these books would also make a great holiday gift or wintery bedtime story.
LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Troy Cummings (Random House Books for Young Readers, October 2015)
Kids will adore this brand-new fractured fairy-tale by the author of such wonderful children’s books as THE MONSTORE and I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK. Little Red wore out her ice-skates and wants to win a new pair – but she needs a partner to skate with her in the big competition. The other fairy-tale characters seem to have found partners already, all except for one big, bad fellow. The prose is full of alliteration and humor, the illustrations packed with cheer, motion, and sherbet-colored details. LITTLE RED is bound to become a favorite winter book (and fairy tale re-telling) for the pre-school to second grade crowd.
After reading, what could be more fun than making this ICE SKATING craft? Kids could design any character they like from the book or make up their own!
THE LITTLE SNOWPLOW by Lora Koehler, illustrated by Jake Parker (Candlewick, October 2015)
For kids who love KATIE AND THE BIG SNOW or GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGHT,CONSTRUCTION SITE, I can think of no better winter book than THE LITTLE SNOWPLOW. In a fantastic, fun-to-read story, the littlest snowplow manages to get through where bigger, tougher machines cannot – and by being small, he saves the day.
Follow up this read-aloud with these snowplows for a seriously snowy craft project!
SKIPPYJON JONES, SNOW WHAT by Judy Schachner (Dial Books, October 2014)
It takes a special cat to dream up a Snow White “tail” like this one – but Skippyjon Jones is not your average kitty-boy. The amazing Judy Schachner brings her trademark bilingual voice, catchy rhythm and unexpected rhymes to a winter book that will have your kids rolling in laughter and as our mini hero and his band of Chihuahua friends rescue a sleeping princess, encased in a block of ice and guarded by a fire-breathing dragon!
Your kids can be just like Skippyjon Jones, and rescue a princess (or any plastic toy!) from a block of ice! Check out this Frozen Gelatin Excavation Activity from Fun At Home With Kids!.
Legend may have it that yetis are frightening beasts – but truth be told, they’re loveable fluffy white fuzz balls that enjoy the same wintery activities as you and me! Snowballs fights, hot cocoa, and sledding fill their days. But sometimes even yetis get the winter blues. In THE THING ABOUT YETIS, we get to see how they bring a little summer cheer to the chilliest days! Publishers Weekly says “Vogel narrates with gentle humor as his yetis – and the human kids they play with – remind readers that there’s plenty of fun to be had in every season.”
Follow up THE THING ABOUT YETIS with this craft. OK, it says “fuzzy ghosts” on the website- but you and I know these are the cutest yetis ever. You could get easily use stick-on felt or craft foam pieces to let kids customize them!
FROZEN WILD: HOW ANIMALS SURVIVE IN THE COLDEST PLACES ON EARTH by Jim Arnosky (Sterling Children’s Books, September 2015)
It’s impossible to ignore this incredible non-fiction picture book. Award-winning author-illustrator and naturalist Jim Arnosky takes kids on an adventure they’ll never forget, tracking wild creatures through harsh and frozen environments. Readers encounter otters, beavers, moose, polar bears, killer whales, penguins, fur seals, and other creatures. The stunning art includes five foldouts that reveal worlds under the ice and at the farthest, frostiest reaches of the globe.
FROZEN WILD is a great compliment to science curriculum, addressing as it does ecosystems, adaptations and behaviors that help animals live through freezing winters. After reading, why not try this simple animal track activity with young children or try this more advanced activity kit with your second to fourth graders:
*Full disclosure: I received a promotional copy of THE THING ABOUT YETIS from Penguin Young Readers.