Today is the December solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year. The word solstice comes from Latin “sun” and “to stand still.” The December solstice is also the official start of the season of winter. In our house, that means that we’ve pulled out all the winter books to explore.
For me, the season of winter is magical. Cozy, cold, snowy, and bright. Even more special after we welcomed our own little Winter two years ago. This year we will be spending the season of winter in New England, where I grew. The coastal cold and the sights and smells of the winter season approaching have transported me to winters past, made even more special by the approach of the holidays. I am excited to share the northern winter season with the girls.
These favorite winter books celebrate the season’s beauty and uniqueness.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening is a beautifully illustrated children’s book by Susan Jeffers that brings Robert Frost’s well-known poem to life. The drawings illuminate the magical stillness of a new snowfall. The girls enjoy listening to the poetic language. I love exposing them to a traditional genre within a children’s book format. And as a busy adult, I relate to the poet’s awe of the season nature balanced with the reality of real-life commitments.
Animals in Winter by Henrietta Bancroft explores how different animals survive the winter. It discusses migration, hibernation, and preparation. We especially like and have used the suggestions for feeding animals in your own backyard. The girls are avid bird feeders and watchers, and we have had some beautiful visitors to our window feeder during winter. We will be waiting for them to come this year!
Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal is another nonfiction picture book. When the snow falls and lies on the ground, it may seem quiet and still, but there is a lot happening under the surface during the winter months. The girls love peeking into the underground world of tunnels, burrows, and caves on the charmingly illustrated pages.
A winter family favorite is Jan Brett’s The Mitten. In this story, one of Nicki’s hand-knit white mittens is lost in the snow. But not for long. Soon, a whole cast of animal characters discover it and, one by one, squeeze into the cozy mitten. Before long even a bear has climbed inside. When a mouse’s whiskers cause a great big sneeze, Nicki spots the missing mitten sailing into the air. But he and his grandmother are confused by it’s large size. The girls love to be in on the secret of it stretching out. (We also love The Hat, with a similarly humorous and wintry story line.)
Go Beyond Reading
We will be outdoors (weather permitting) this week to observe signs of winter and to prepare for the season’s arrival. Join us as we:
- Observe signs of animals under the ground. After learning about their winter preparations, we will see what signs of winter animal behavior we can spot in our own backyard.
- Feed the animals. The girls and I will set up the winter bird feeder with sunflower seeds, a type of food that colorful songbirds seem to enjoy. We put it on a window that is hard for squirrels to reach. You can also make your own bird feeders, as suggested in Animals in Winter. We found some easy instructions here.
- Appreciate the magic of the season! We have only had a dusting of snow so far, but we hope to bundle up in our own warm mittens and “watch the woods fill up with snow” sometime soon!
What are your favorite winter books and activities? Share them with us below.