A note about Amazon: Since the start of this little blog, I've always used and linked to Amazon as a matter of ease and familiarity - Amazon as a website is one of the tools I use to organize my own book lists, seek out new books, and generally gather information. With that 'information' - I then head to either our library (when my fines aren't too high!), one of our favorite local independent bookstores, Powell's, or yes, sometimes Amazon, too. I want to let you know that I have recently begun participating in the Amazon Associates program, whereby I earn a small percentage of all sales made via links through this site. So, for example, if you follow any of these links below, or the Amazon links in my sidebar, I would earn based on anything you purchase in that shopping trip. I made this decision with the confidence that one - nothing in my content has changed or ever will change; two - my own personal buying habits will continue to remain as they always have; and three - that the earnings will - in a small but helpful way - contribute to my family. If you have questions about any of this, I'll do my best to answer them in the comments. I am not, however, up for debate. I trust that you will make the best decisions for your family, and ask that you respect the ones I make for mine. Thank you!
And now let's talk about books...
There are a lot of books in this house - thrifted books, vintage books, purchased books, hand-me-down books, library books. They're on shelves, in baskets, under tables and chairs and in drawers. Really. While sometimes that feels absolutely magical and limitless when choosing a book, sometimes I know it can feel overwhelming too. So, for us - a system that's turned out to be really helpful is to pull them into 'themed' baskets - some that stay the same and some that change frequently. (As a side note - the kids love labeling the book baskets, with little tags they make for them, "library books, winter books, etc".)
Around the transition of each season, I pull - from all the various spots - our favorite 'seasonal' books, and these stay in a basket close at hand for the duration of the season. So the books are always around - they're just pulled a little closer to view when they're something we're focusing on, or the appropriate time of year. (The exception to this would be the straight-up traditional "Holiday" books that do get packed away with holiday decorations, because I just cannot bring myself to read The Night Before Christmas in July. I just can't do it.)
I tried very hard to keep it to our Top Ten, but you can see I failed miserably at that. I couldn't imagine leaving any of these out - they're all quite treasured by my family. So without further adieu, I bring you the favorites of our Winter books.
Christmas Treasury - Jan Brett
I can't imagine winter reading without Jan Brett's stories and tales full of scandinavian traditions. The Mitten, The Hat, and Christmas Trolls are our favorites, but I just found this treasury with a few more pulled together as one holiday collection. (As a side note - if you don't know about Jan Brett's website, and you have little ones, you must pay it a visit. It will keep you busy all winter long.)
Snow - Uri Shulevitz
This classic is simple and sweet and beautiful. When the snow starts to fall around here, we find ourselves quoting this one to each other a lot. "'It's snowing' said boy with dog. 'It's nothing' said Man with hat." It's one that contains enough repetitive phrases and such that it's a perfect read for the very-beginning readers among us.
The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice - Wendy Pfeffer
A wonderful non-fiction picture book which explains the significance of Solstice, as well as some of the traditions and ways that cultures throughout history have celebrated it. There are activities and experiments as well, making this one a really wonderful homeschool or classroom resource.
The Little Fir Tree - Margaret Wise Brown
I found a vintage copy of this one illustrated by Barbara Cooney that we adore, which includes music for the carols. I haven't seen the illustrations in the new one I've just linked to, but the story is a lovely one of a living pine tree and it's presence in a family's holiday. Brown's rhymes are so sweet and the story is soothing.
The Return of the Light: Twelves Tales from Around The World for Winter Solstice - Carolyn McVickar Edwards
This collection contains traditional tales that tell how different cultures celebrate the magic of solstice. While the faiths and different cultures vary greatly, the connecting themes of 'renewal' and 'change' and 'light' connect us all, and this collection is a wonderful demonstration of that through story.
Ollie's Ski Trip and Peter and Lotta's Christmas - Elsa Beskow
Two wonderful stories by one of our favorite author/illustrators. Calvin claims Ollie's Ski Trip to be his very 'favorite book of all' - (and we have a little bit of Jack Frost in our dress up rack). It's one of mine too - full of magic and wonder at the winter season. Peter and Lotta's Christmas is equally as beautiful as Beskow's other stories, and includes a few sweet Swedish Christmas traditions in the tale.
Owl Moon - Jane Yolen
Owl Moon is essential winter reading! Jane Yolen so perfectly captures the simplest of activities and the magic and wonder and beauty within it. A walk in the woods to look for owls turns out to be a beautiful tale of all the magic of parent & child, nature & animals. This book has inspired many a nighttime walk around here. They're definitely magical.
The Big Snow - Berta and Elmer Hader
A wonderful tale of the animals of the wood preparing for winter, with a little help from some human friends. The children love to identify the 'signs' of winter that the animals sense. "They just know winter is coming, Mama!"
Nutcracker and Swan Lake - Lizbeth Zwerger
I fell in love with Lizbeth Zwerger's illustrations after recieving The Wizard of Oz from Amy a couple of years ago. Since then, our books illustrated by her continues to grow, and theyr'e always some of our favorites. These two tales are no exception - her illustrations bring these classic tales to life in a new way. In putting this post together, I discovered her illustrated version of The Night Before Christmas. I had no idea this one was out there, but it will most definitely be on the top of our wish list this year.
Winter - Gerda Muller
Gerda Muller's four seasons board books are one of my favorite newborn gifts to give. Without words, the pictures tell the tales of the seasons - in nature, animals, and people. I always think my children will have 'outgrown' this book, but they continue to love it. (It seems to not be available on Amazon, but it is available here at Nova Natural, where you can find a lot of the books I have in this list).
The Story of the Snow Children - Sibylle Von Olfers
Is there anything more magical than the thought of staring out the window at the snowflakes and having them turn into little snow children that carry you away on a magical winter adventure? Oh my. So much delight and goodness. The illustrations in this are simply stunning. (Not available through Amazon, but I did find it here at Three Sisters Toys.)
Nutcracker - E.T.A. Hoffman, Pictures by Maurice Sendak
Yup, two versions of the Nutcracker. Who can resist Maurice Sendak? Not I. The boys and I actually really love finding different illustrated versions of the same book - it's so fascinating to them to see how differently artists can interpret the same words. And well, this Maurice Sendak Nutcracker is a lovely one, and it's with the original text so it's a hefty and wonderful read.
Christmas in Noisy Village - Astrid Lindgren
This tale of Christmas contains all that I hope my children will remember from their own childhood holiday seasons - handmade gifts, baking, singing, celebrations with friends and family, and much joy.
I know there are other wonderful Holiday/Seasonal Book Lists going on out there in BlogLand, so if you've made one on your own blog, be sure to leave a link in the comments so we can see it! Additionally, if you have a favorite that hasn't been mentioned, let us know that too!
Happy cozy winter reading to you and the little ones in your life!