Heartwarming Winter Tales – Top 10 Picks for a Cozy Season

Top 10 Winter Books, Books, Books!

(Set to the tune of “Up On The Housetop”)

Up on the bookshelves, we will find
The Top 10 Winter Books I’ve in mind.
Snuggle up tight and begin to read
All for the children when they plead…

Books, Books, Books!
Please read me some books!

Books, Books, Books!
These wonderful storybooks!

Oh, up on the bookshelves,
Flip, flip, flip

Enjoy these Top 10 Winter Books,
For each one is a gift.

The Children in the Box is a heart-tugging holiday story about two orphaned children struggling after war and disease took their parents because medicine and physicians were scant.

With the weather cold and frigid, a hungry tummy, along with living in a box in the company of your younger, orphaned sister, what would you do if you found a large sum of money on the street, abandoned by someone you knew? A ten-year-old young man faces that very question as he struggles to provide for himself and his sister. Throughout the cold winter days, the boy works hard and manages to earn money by shining shoes and selling pencils to purchase food. One Christmas Eve, the young boy sells two pencils to a unique lady who unknowingly drops her purse. Instead of keeping the money he discovered in the lost purse, the boy sets out to find its owner. You’ll love how this courageous and honest young man’s choices lead to a beautiful future for him and his young sister. The Children in the Box is a powerful story of family, resilience, goodness, kindness, and courage.

After you read this story, I encourage you to go back through each of the pages to capture all the beautiful details within the illustrations.

The Kindness Snowflake

by Jen Brewer

Being an Arizona native, I had never experienced waking up to a white Christmas until I visited my in-laws in Utah one year. It was then that I understood the nostalgia of a white Christmas. The white-blanket ground fascinated me and brought a sense of peace and childlike delight. I was amazed at how the snow quietly fell from the sky as I slept through the night. Snowflakes are a wonder.

Prepare yourself to make the most out of your reading experience by getting out your paper, scissors, and string. You’ll want to read this book under strings of homemade snowflakes! Before you begin reading this story of kindness, drift to the back of the book and float over the directions to make your very own Kindness Snowflake. Sit under your flurry of handmade flakes to enjoy Brewer’s heart-warming tale.

Similar to my real-life experience, The Kindness Snowflake by Jen Brewer offers a snowflake story that begins with the wonder of waking up to see a snow-covered earth. Little Mary is mesmerized by the snow and learns many facts about this tiny symbol of purity from her meteorologist mother.

Along with facts about snowflakes, Mary’s mother affectionately correlates the snowflakes with spreading kindness. Mary latches on to the thought of sharing kindness and makes a plan of action to spread love to others. Throughout the story, Mary’s family performs acts of kindness for individuals within their family and community… melting the heart of a grumpy old… Well, you’ll just have to read and find out.

Readers are encouraged to create snowflakes and to share in the joy of considering and helping others. The Kindness Snowflake will remind readers of all ages that no act of kindness can ever be too small.

Filled with gorgeous illustrations by Diana Del Grande, this heartfelt message about thoughtfulness and compassion will surely engage young readers. The joy and fun of playing in the snow are also wonderfully captured throughout this charming book. Readers will be inspired to make their kindness snowflakes and to start spreading joy within their own families and communities. This book may spark discussions about how we can assist others and how simple gestures of kindness can have a lasting impact.

Rami's Snow Day

by Candace Rowe

What do you like to do on snow days? There are so many options to choose from. Snow brings gifts to the senses, and Candace Rowe’s emotionally poignant illustrations will afford you a realistic snow day through her artistry.

Rowe takes readers along on a snow day filled with activities that will bring back memories. Reading this story, you will believe that you are experiencing the day with Rami’s family, actually hearing the sounds of snow, feeling the chill, and smelling the crackling fire.

Rami’s Snow Day is a gift in a gift. While reading, conversations centered around making snow day plans, memories of winter activities, and stories of childhood will all strengthen family bonds.

Activity: Snowflake Ornaments

Making popsicle stick snowflake ornaments will FREEZE this day in your family’s memories! The beauty of these snowflakes is that after you hot glue the craft sticks together to form the snowflake shape, your kids can decorate them however their hearts desire. Using their imagination and creativity, your kids can decorate the snowflake ornaments with stickers, glitter, pom poms, sequins, and whatever else you have around the house!

Charlie & Emmet - Snowy Day

by Lori Ries

Charlie & Emmet’s, Snowy Day is the perfect introduction for first and second graders beginning to read chapter books. Winter is SNOW much fun! So let’s go exploring with Charlie and Emmett! You’ll find yourself SKIING through the pages as Charlie and her curious dinosaur friend, Emmet, play in the snow, shop for groceries, entertain each other, and greet Charlie’s father at the end of the day. You will be SLED away with Emmet’s energy and questions. Everyone will want a dinosaur for a friend after reading this winter book.

Snowflake Bentley: A Caldecott Award Winner

by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Snowflake Bentley, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, won the 1999 Caldecott Medal. The book begins with “a boy who loved snow more than anything else in the world.” From there, we are brought along as Wilson Bentley’s life is detailed alongside Mary Azarian’s snow-speckled illustrations. These woodcut illustrations, paired with the biographical text from Jacqueline Briggs Martin, make for a picture book that will amaze you both at Bentley’s tenacious scientific pursuits and the wonder of snow itself.

This book, though a picture book, has a more nonfiction/biographical quality as it teaches about Bentley’s life. It includes sidebars with additional information outside of the story, like when/where Bentley was born and what the “snowbelt” is. The book details Bentley’s persistence in learning all he could about moisture, weather, and especially snow.

What he discovered is, of course, fascinating. Such as how each snowflake boasts six identical branches (he found occasional three-branch flakes), and yet no one design was ever repeated. I mean, talk about amazing! This would be an excellent book to start conversations about Creation and intelligent design with your kids.

Wilson Bentley, in addition to what he was able to learn about snowflakes, was the very first person to manage to photograph a snowflake – with equipment from the late 1800’s, no less. A feat that took him over a year to accomplish (with a camera/microscope his parents bought with their savings).

I recommend reading this alongside some of his snowflake photographs (Dover has published a great edition of these) to show your kids. Also, try to look closely at snowflakes together the next time you have a blizzard—they are truly incredible!

The book goes far beyond the science of snowflakes. The text provides many opportunities for thoughtful questions. For example:

  • Education: The limits of Bentley’s education, how he prevailed in the face of those limits, and gratefulness for the opportunities we might have available to learn.
  • Tenacity: How hard Bentley worked even though he was working with limited resources (education, finances, equipment).
  • Sacrifice: Such as the sacrifice his parents made to buy his camera/microscope. And the sacrifices Bentley himself made: lack of income, scoffs of neighbors, early mornings, long walks, even his eventual death from pneumonia he contracted while working through a blizzard.
  • Snowflakes: They are frankly amazing, and it’s a worthwhile topic to discuss how such beauty came about.

Over the River and Through the Wood

by Lydia Maria Child

Lydia Maria Child is a historical 19th-century American writer of importance. She is known for her personification, as well as linking literature with reform. Over the River and Through the Wood was originally published in 1844 as a Thanksgiving poem. The lyrics celebrate this author’s childhood memories of traveling to her grandmother’s home for Thanksgiving. Over the years, the poem was set to a tune and some of the lyrics have been modified (i.e., grandfather vs. grandmother’s).

I adore David Catrow’s illustrations in this version of Over the River and Through the Wood. An excellent present for children ages 4-8. I’m reminded of a Mad Magazine, worth viewing and reading alike, for Catrow’s illustrations portray the silly spoof on this holiday’s tradition.

Red & Lulu

by Matt Tavares

The book Red & Lulu by Matt Tavares is a wonderful holiday story with fantastic illustrations. You will love it. The cover of Red & Lulu is both iconic and novel. Through dreamy snowfall, we see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and meet two new characters – lovely red birds, Red and Lulu. Without yet knowing their story, through the cover, you can feel the birds’ bond and glean the excitement of a shared adventure.

Red and Lulu are two cardinals that live in a large evergreen tree. It was a perfect place for them to live. The tree kept their nest safe and protected them from the weather. Red and Lulu loved building their nest in this tree, which shaded them in the hot months and kept them cozy in the cold months. Their favorite thing about the tree was when the family whose yard the tree was in decorated it with lights and sang O’ Christmas Tree.

But one day, something unthinkable happens, and Red and Lulu are separated. Red left to get breakfast, and when he returned, the tree was gone! Lulu was gone, too! It will take a miracle for them to find each other again. Luckily, it’s just the season for miracles, for Red saw the tree strapped to a big truck. He tried to follow the truck to the Big Apple (New York) but was not fast enough to keep up. Red searches for the tree and Lulu in the city for days. Eventually, Red hears the song O’ Christmas Tree. He follows the sound and discovers his tree all lit up. He also finds Lulu! Separation and miles cannot keep a determined cardinal from his loved one.

This book will instantly work its way into your family’s everyday moments. At the end of the book, there is a page that tells a bit more about the history of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

This book is beautifully illustrated. And since I love cardinals, the storyline was perfect: how two cardinals are separated, but love brings them back together because they let nothing stop them from being together. It’s such a heartwarming tale.

Christmas Trolls

by Jan Brett

Jan Brett’s style and technique are specific to her; when one picks up a book from her collection, it is immediately apparent. Each book provides the same wonderful style of artistry that her readers have come to love. Using vibrant colors to tell stories that will delight readers of all ages, Brett shares two stories in each of her books. The first plays out on the main spread with a secondary story in the sidebars and/or borders of each page.

Christmas Trolls is a clever way of sharing with children that Christmas is about more than just presents, and that the old ‘giving is better than receiving’ chestnut does actually have some truth behind it.

Treva, Sami, and their parents are preparing for Christmas, but things keep mysteriously disappearing. After spying the Christmas pudding flying across the snow, Treva decides to follow the traveling treat and find out what’s happening.

Lo and behold, two trolls, Mig and Tig, have taken the things because they want Christmas. Treva shows the trolls how to have Christmas and even how to get along with each other. While Treva shows the trolls how to have Christmas, a hedgehog takes all of their items back to the sleigh.

This book shows how gifts from the heart really do matter in this world. When we show people love and attention through what we do and say, that gift cannot be taken away.

Treva helps the trolls tidy up and decorate a tree, but then the more challenging lesson comes – encouraging them to be happier by playing together rather than arguing all the time. She also, in a touchingly unselfish gesture, gives them her favorite toy as a present. Treva gives the trolls her red horse to show them kindness at Christmas. Though she will miss her treasured toy horse, the trolls have learned so much about Christmas. On Christmas Day, Treva receives a special gift from the trolls, delivered by the hedgehog.

The message this sends is that it’s lovely to do things for other people and that feelings are more important than “things.”

Enjoy feasting your eyes on all the Scandinavian side pictures within this story. What a gift Jan Brett offers with all the details in her illustrations. When reading, one is whisked away to their own winter getaway that mesmerizes and allows readers to enjoy stories within a story.

Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive the Sleigh

by Mo Willems

Spending the winter holidays with a Mo Willems book is a delightful gift. I want to share the enchanting story Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Sleigh, brought to life by the creative genius of Mo Willems.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year … and in the world of Pigeon, there’s only one thing on his feathered mind—driving a sleigh! Yes, you read that right, Pigeon wants to be the one in charge of Santa’s magical sleigh this holiday season. And he’s making his list and checking it twice, just like Santa himself. Can you imagine the chaos if Pigeon gets his wings on that sleigh?

Get ready for a heartwarming holiday tale that’s bound to make your little ones giggle with delight! With Mo Willems’ signature sharp-wittedness and comedic repertoire, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Sleigh takes readers on a jovial adventure filled with a-bowl-filled-with-jelly laughs. Will Pigeon’s dreams take flight? This story is a perfect gift to read all year long.

The Legend of the Poinsettia

Retold and Illustrated by Tomie dePaola

Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Próspero año y felicidad

*Merry Christmas
A prosperous year and happiness

I can remember, as a child, wondering if Jesus had a Christmas tree and what kind of gifts he wanted Santa to bring. There are so many traditions and customs associated with Christmas that it is almost impossible for a child to separate secular from religious. Let’s face it, it is hard to do as an adult! And there are so many icons that have become synonymous with Christmas, like trees, wreaths, candy canes, presents, angels, and even poinsettias, that their significance is often lost.

We rarely have the opportunity to enjoy a Christmas story from other cultures in the form of a children’s book. So often, in the craziness of the season, children here in America forget that other children, just like them, are celebrating Christmas in their own ways all over the world. The Legend of the Poinsettia is a unique and beautiful Christmas story set in a small village in Mexico. This story tells the Mexican legend of the poinsettia, which has been handed down through the generations.

The Legend of the Poinsettia reveals how a different culture celebrates the birth of Jesus. The focus of the story is not on lavish gifts and Christmas trees, shopping, or fancy decorations. Rather, the reader sees a village humbly preparing for the most important day of the year when they get to honor the birth of Jesus.

In this folktale, a little girl is embarrassed that her family has nothing to put before the baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas due to her mother’s illness. A little girl named Lucida lives with her family in a small village in the mountains of Mexico. As Christmas approaches, Padre Alvarez from San Gabriel comes to Lucida’s mother and asks her to weave a new blanket to cover the Baby Jesus in the Christmas procession. Her mother is honored and asks for Lucida’s help picking out and dyeing the finest yarn they can find. One day, as the children in the village are practicing for the procession, Senora Gomez comes to get Lucida and tells her that her mother is sick and has been taken to the doctor. She will not be well before Christmas, and Lucida’s father will stay with her, so Lucida and her siblings must remain with Senora Gomez. Lucida is heartbroken because she knows the blanket won’t be finished in time for the procession. Lucida is ashamed when she arrives at San Gabriel without something beautiful for the baby Jesus. Crushed and embarrassed, she hides out the night of the Christmas procession. When a mysterious old woman tells her, “Whatever you give, the baby Jesus will love because it comes from you,” the little girl gathers up some weeds that she takes as a gift. To Lucinda’s surprise, her simple gift of weeds turns out to be the most miraculous gift of all, as the weeds transform into glorious red poinsettias. Every Christmas to this day, the poinsettia appears on top of green branches in Mexico, and the people call these plants the Flower of the Holy Night.

There are many wonderful Christmas books for children that share both facts and legends. One of my favorite authors/illustrators of children’s literature is Tomie dePaola. His bold, beautiful colors and folksy illustrations are so appealing to children. As a starting point for discussing Christmas symbols, we read dePaola’s The Legend of the Poinsettia.

Whether you celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus or simply embrace the season, it is important for children to understand why certain icons are associated with this time of year. Sharing facts and legends helps us all better understand the season and helps delineate between secular and religious celebrations.

Winter brings memorable gifts, just like the words and illustrations in each of these wonderful stories. When the weather outside is frightful, and reading time is so delightful, open up a book from this blog! Oh, the Top 10 Winter Books while drinking eggnog.

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