13 Wintery Children’s Books

All the Christmas books are put away and we’re feeling a little un-festive over here. To combat the cold-weather blues, I pulled out all of our Winter centric books. Sometimes seeing this frosty season portrayed in books helps my attitude. If you’re the same or just need some new reading material, here are some of our favorite Winter themed picture books (and a bonus middle-grade read).

What are your favorite wintery reads?


Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, Illustrated by Susan Jeffers

This is a gorgeous book that will delight young and old. Robert Frost’s iconic poem is immortalized with hauntingly lovely illustrations. The book jacket is vellum which adds to the wintery vibe. A great way to introduce poetry to any age.You Can Do It, Sam by Amy Hest, Illustrated by Anita Jeram

Anita Jeram is responsible for the the adorable illustrations in favorites like Guess How Much I Love You and Skip To The Loo, My Darling! A Potty Book. She works her magic one the Sam Books, too. Sam bakes treats for all his neighbors and hand delivers them with his mom.

Katy and The Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton

A classic, originally published in 1943. A big snow strands the city of Geoppolis and Katy saves the day.

Who Likes The Snow? by Etta Kaner, Illustrated by Marie Lafrance

Each page has a reason why “I like the snow..” and a question related to it. When you lift the flap, there are simple, scientific explanations to the question. The more we read this, the more my kids pick up on the science, but even if it goes over their heads, the other text is engaging.

The Little Snowplow by Lora Koehler, Illustrated by Jake Parker

The other construction trucks look down on the little snowplow for his size, but when the dump truck gets buried in snow after an avalanche, the little snowplow’s hard work pays off.

Poppleton in Winter by Cynthia Rylant, Illustrated by Mark Teague

Any pig who has a specific library day is a friend of mine (from Poppleton). Poppleton and his friends are delightful and their Winter activities are fun. Each book has three or four simple stories that my 2 and 4 year old both like and will grow with them as they learn to read. Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner, Illustrated by Mark Buehner

This talented husband and wife team have created four snowmen books (at Christmas, at Night, at Work, and All Year) with clever rhymes and engaging illustrations that have hidden pictures, keeping everyone involved.

The Hat by Jan Brett

Many of Brett’s books are set in Winter (The Mitten, Gingerbread Friends) and she does it well. She has a distinctive illustration style that feels old fashioned in a good way. In The Hat, Hedgehog uses a runaway stocking as a head covering, much to the amusement of his animal friends. Little does he know they go in search of similar hats. Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter by Kenard Pak

Pak’s illustrations are graceful and beautifully capture the atmosphere of each season. Brother and sister walk home experiencing the change from Autumn to Winter. Pak also wrote the equally lovely Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn.

Mouse’s First Snow by Lauren Thompson, Illustrated by Buket Erdogan

Lauren Thompson’s Mouse series follows Mouse as he experiences all the firsts (think holidays and seasons). In Mouse’s First Snow, Mouse and his Poppa do all sorts of Wintery activities. Each activity is accompanied by fun onomatopoeias which will delight younger readers.

A Loud Winter’s Nap by Katy Hudson

Katy Hudson is a talented illustrator whose style is playful and nostalgic. Too Many Carrots was an instant hit with my kids and A Loud Winter’s Nap showcases the same characters. Tortoise isn’t a fan of Winter. His plans to hibernate until Spring get interrupted by all his friends until he has a change of heart.

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, Illustrated by John Schoenherr

A daughter goes owling with her father for the first time. Both the text and illustrations are magical and poetic and all around wonderful.

Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick

The Lovejoys moves from Texas to Pumpkin Falls, NH to take over the family bookstore. Truly, the middle of the five kids, finds a mysterious note in an autographed copy of Charlotte’s Web, sending her and her new friends on a literary scavenger hunt. Such a charming middle-grade read.

A Bible Literacy Book Flight

My zeal for reading doesn’t always translate to a zeal for reading my Bible. I wake up early, ostensibly to meet with God and have some quite before the kiddos wake up, but it’s a struggle of varying degrees to prioritize reading the Bible instead of my current novel during that precious alone time.

Reading other people’s perspective about the Bible and how it intersects with their own lives has given me a renewed passion for leaning in to God’s word. This may seem counterintuitive since I was just saying reading in general can be distracting to my commitment to reading the Bible, but sometimes you need a prod.

I’m over on Club 31 Women today sharing six books that have given me a fresh heart towards  the Bible. Here’s a sneak peek…

 

The entire post is HERE!

An Advent Book Flight

My first married December was rough. We had moved from SoCal to Northern Idaho a couple months earlier and I wasn’t going to see my family on Christmas. I was grumpy most of the month, unable to appreciate new traditions and the Currier and Ives weather in our new state.

Decorating the Christmas tree was a special event when I was growing up. My step-dad got it in the stand and as perpendicular as possible. My mom and brother did the lights – always colored and the more the merrier. Then we set to unwrapping ornaments, laughing at the ones made in grade school, making sure the one-eyed mangy bird got a prime spot.

As Tim and I set up our forest-felled tree that first year together, I felt bereft and lamely incapable of putting lights on branches properly. He wisely stayed on the couch as I huffily wound lights onto branches but ended up at Lowe’s three times in the span of an hour because WE DIDN’T HAVE ENOUGH LIGHTS (I was yelling this to myself while huffing). And the next day, the ding dang tree fell right over.

I know I’m not the only one with Christmas stories like that one, or worse. Disasters are just lurking in the shadows of high expectations, an influx of social engagements, and the pressure to spend money. Christmastime is often the breeding ground for tension and hurt instead of comfort and joy.

Practicing Advent is something that has helped me create space for my soul to breathe (to borrow a phrase from Emily Freeman) during the holidays.

I didn’t grow up in a denomination that followed the liturgical church calendar, so I mostly associated Advent with consuming a small, waxy chocolate each day in December until Christmas. But in the past few years, I’ve enjoyed the rhythm of an Advent devotional to focus my mind and prepare my heart for the season of celebrating our Savior’s birth.

Here are five of my favorite Advent reads.

The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp

Ann’s lyrical writing voice seems particularly fitting for wonder surrounding Christ’s birth. In The Greatest Gift, Ann uses the advent tradition of the Jesse Tree (a tradition I knew nothing about before reading this book) to frame daily readings that follow the lineage of Jesus starting with Jesse, the father of David. Similar to The Jesus Storybook Bible where “every story whispers His name,” The Greatest Gift continually points to the coming promise of Christ throughout the Old Testament. It’s rich and beautiful and I usually re-read this every year.

Unwrapping The Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp

This is a stunning coffee-table-worthy reimagining of The Greatest Gift geared toward families. The gorgeous illustrations give life to The Jesse Tree tradition and will captivate children of any age. Each day has a scripture reading, kid-friendly devotional and suggested activities to do as a family. When we do a book advent (I wrap 24 books and the get to open one every day leading up to Christmas), I have the kids open this one first.

Unwrapping the Names of Jesus: An Advent Devotional by Asheritah Ciuciu

Asheritah sent me a copy of her re-released Advent devotional and I’ve already read through most of it (I love Christmas and couldn’t contain myself). I can’t wait to go back through at a slower pace. There are so many things I love about this slim book. It’s beautiful to look at inside and out. Asheritah convincingly explains the history and relevance of celebrating Advent in her introduction. Each devotional focuses on a different name of Jesus and are grouped to follow the four weeks of Advent (Hope, Preparation, Joy and Love). Every week starts with an interactive devotional for the whole family. Unwrapping the Names of Jesus is a perfect place to start if you’re new to Advent!

She Reads Truth Advent Study

I am just such a huge fan of the mission behind She Reads Truth – to have women in the Word of God every day. Their website, app and study books are beautifully designed and engaging. Since Lent 2017, I’ve done five studies with them. The Advent study book 152 pages of gorgeous goodness including the full scripture readings, wintry recipes, theological extras, and perforated scripture memorization cards. They also have resources for men and kids, too! If you just want the scripture readings and commentary, they are available one day at a time on the website (free) or the app (2.99).

She Reads Truth also has an amazing Bible (I own the Grey Linen, Indexed version) that would make a wonderful Christmas gift.

The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs

Here’s a bonus pick that is Advent related but doesn’t have daily readings like the previous selections. Liz Curtis Higgs is skilled at bringing emotional depth to stories in the Bible. (I thoroughly enjoyed her retelling of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah’s story set in the Lowlands of Scotland.) In The Women of Christmas, Higgs explores the lives of three women who carry the story of Christmas – Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna. She provides commentary, verse by verse, as these women prepare for the birth of the Messiah. I loved the fresh perspective on how these women’s individual stories intertwined with the Christmas story.

What books do you read during Advent?

An Epistolary Book Flight

There’s something intimate about reading letters. When we write them, we give permanence to what has previously been in our minds and hearts, and when we read them, we get a peak into the feelings others. I’m guessing that’s what makes epistolary novels so engaging – connections built on the pieces of self we see embedded in each missive.

Here are five of my favorite epistolary novels:

Love, Mary Elisabeth by Christy Martenson

Set in the Pacific Northwest, this  charming novel is reminiscent of the Dear America books I so loved in grade school. Instead of diary entries, Love, Mary Elisabeth is comprised of letters written by eleven-year-old Mary Elisabeth and a few of her family members. Mary Elisabeth is a city (Seattle) girl who goes to live with relatives on a farm while her mother recovers from tuberculosis and her Papa works in the shipyards.

Christy has captured the joy of a childhood spent navigating the triumphs and trials of country life that is so captivating in classics like Understood Betsy and Up A Road Slowly. Sometimes I find young narrators to be grating, but Mary Elisabeth’s youth is full of believable innocence without being saccharine. I can’t wait to read this gem with my kids. The pretty cover and inside sketches are a wonderful bonus with the paperback!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Guernsey has so much to recommend itself. The plot centers around a writer, Juliet, who receives a letter from a stranger that catapults her into the middle of an off-beat society formed on the island of Guernsey during the German occupation in WWII. I love historical fiction about WWII and this offered a setting and events I wasn’t familiar with previously. Plus, the letters are written by a cast of colorful characters who have unique voices that are witty and endearing. Having so many people writing letters can get a wee bit confusing but keeps the novel moving and interesting. The love story is sweet but doesn’t dominate the narrative. I feel like I’m rambling about this book, but I thought it was lovely and re-read worthy.

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

I’ve said it before, Katherine Reay is a master at integrating classic literature into original plot lines and Dear Mr. Knightley is my favorite. The title alone would convince the likes of me that it was worth reading – because who can pass up a nod to Austen (and Emma for that matter)? – but Dear Mr. Knightley can stand alone with it’s nuanced plot that is both charming and poignant. Plus, she gives a nod to epistolary forerunners like Lady Susan and Evelina

The story centers around Sam, a twenty-three year old orphan who is back at Grace House after getting fired from her desk job. When an anonymous benefactor offers to fund her continued education, Sam reluctantly applies to Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. There’s a catch: on top of her doubts about the program, she must write regular letters to the mysterious donor who chooses to be addressed as Mr. Knightley. A unique relationship develops as Sam begins to sort through her painful past in the one-sided letters. (You can read my more lengthy review here.)

If that description reminds you of Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster (another wonderful epistolary classic), you’d be right in seeing similarities!

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

The work of C. S. Lewis is important to my spiritual growth and The Screwtape Letters is no exception. Sometimes you have to hear truths from a different perspective to have them sink in and that’s what The Screwtape Letters did for me. The slim novel is comprised of correspondence between a more seasoned devil, Screwtape, and his young nephew, Wormwood. Screwtape gives advice on how best to derail Wormwood’s “patient.” With his characteristic wit, creativity, and faith, Lewis explores good and evil, temptation and grace.

My family readThe Screwtape Letters around the dinner table over the course of a few weeks when I was in late middle school. It took me a few letters to wrap my mind around it being written from a devil’s perspective. I had to keep reminding myself that “the Enemy” wasn’t referring to Satan but God. But because I had to pay a bit more attention to keep things straight, I found the story/message more impactful.

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

What would happen if it were illegal to use an increasingly large number of the letters in our alphabet? Ella and the residents of Nollop find out when the island’s council bans the use of letters as they mysteriously drop from a memorial statue commemorating the author of the phrase “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” which contains all the letters of the alphabet. The letters written in the book contain the alphabet restrictions being laid on the citizens of Nollop.

Ella Minnow Pea is lots of fun for the English Major type or those who love words. It’s also an interesting reflection on freedom of expression, fear mongering, and totalitarian government.

What’s your favorite epistolary novel?

A book flight is a curated sampling of reading material that shares some defining quality: theme, setting, time frame, subject matter, etc. Like a beverage flight, the samples are selected with care and presented together intentionally with the purpose of expanding the sampler’s horizons, developing literary discernment, and encouraging reflection and analysis as she considers, compares, and contrasts each book.

A Sisters Book Flight

Many of my favorite classics feature sisters. Instead of including the Bennet sisters or the little Ingalls, I’m focusing on modern classics some of which give a distinct nod to the aforementioned sisters.

After choosing this flight and writing these reviews, all I can think of is Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye dressed up in sequins and boas singing, “sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters,” in White Christmas.

I’ll leave you with that image and these four fun reads about sisters.

Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay

I’m a Katherine Reay fan! She writes emotionally driven novels with nods to Austen (and other great literature) without being straight up fan fiction. (Though there’s nothing wrong with a Mr. Darcy’s Diary or Lost in Austen, both of which are on my bookshelf next to Reay’s fantastic first novel, Dear Mr. Knightley.) Her novels have originality while maintaining the substance of classics.

In this, her second, novel, Katherine tells Lizzy’s story. Lizzy is a talented chef who has lost her food inspiration. Her sister, Jane, has cancer. Together, they have a messy sibling relationship that keeps getting more complicated. I love how Reay adds modern elements, like the importance of social media hype to new businesses, in a timeless fashion. Lizzy and Jane gives an intimate look at caregiving and what you can learn about others by what they read.

If any of this review piques your interest, check out the interview I did with Katherine on Kindred Grace. We talk about why classics are appealing, what she hopes her novels will be saying years from now, and the challenges of incorporating classics into her own work. 

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

A friend with excellent taste recommended this to me and I can’t resist her suggestions, rabbits, or a New England setting. The Penderwicks is a an absolutely heartwarming  middle grade novel about four motherless sisters who spend a Summer on the grounds of a sprawling estate in Massachusetts with their father. Adventures ensue and I loved every minute. Jeanne Birdsall captures the tipping of child into adolescence so perfectly with the oldest sister, Rosalind. I cannot wait to read these with my kids and to finish the series (four books altogether) myself.

Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility by Hilary Manton Lodge 

Jane Austen created several recognizable sets of sisters, two of which can be found in Sense and Sensibility, her novel about practical Elinor and fanciful Marianne. In Jane of Austin, Lodge has modernized the Dashwood’s story, putting the sisters in a Texas setting as tea shop owners. For me, Jane Austen retellings always have the potential to be too similar to the original (Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope) thus boring, or too convoluted that they miss the appeal of the original (The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine ).

Jane of Austin was the perfect fusion of contemporary and classic with a fun Southern twist. Here are a few things I loved: I’m not always a fan of quotes to start chapters, but these were diverse, contributed to moving the plot along and alternated in subject depending on the narrator of the chapter (clever!). The author is a foodie and she includes a few recipes scattered throughout the novel. They were actually things I’d like to make. Plus, her use of food in the novel is tastefully done, not excessive. Sweetly romantic AND clean. The 10 discussion questions included at the end went beyond plot-points. The cover is lovely.

The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper

The well-known set of sisters in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is loosely based on the author and her own three sisters. One of those sisters, Abigail May (went by May), is the subject of The Other Alcott. May is plagued by the fictional reputation of Amy March in Louisa’s utterly successful novel and burdened by the underlying competition between herself and her older sister. The novel follows May as she wriggles out from under the control of her sister, trying to establish herself as an artist.

This book was such a pleasure to read. Elise Hopper brings the Alcott family to life. I learned so much about art in the nineteenth century and I loved seeing how May’s journey intersected with familiar painters like Degas and Cassatt.

What is your favorite book about sisters?

A book flight is a curated sampling of reading material that shares some defining quality: theme, setting, time frame, subject matter, etc. Like a beverage flight, the samples are selected with care and presented together intentionally with the purpose of expanding the sampler’s horizons, developing literary discernment, and encouraging reflection and analysis as she considers, compares, and contrasts each book.