Family Read-alouds: Books to Keep Winter’s Chill at Bay

Remember when we suggested that winter is the perfect season for family read-aloud time? Here in Virginia, most of January and February have like April, but I have no doubt that there is still time for winter! Even without snow (drats!) we can still count on damp, chilly days that call for staying inside, sharing a book, and enjoying our favorite warm beverage. 

Don’t be surprised if these books set in winter spark warm, cozy feelings and request to spend more time together reading!

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coziest place jamie michalakThe Coziest Place by Jamie Michalak 
| picture book, ages 2 to 8 |

A bear family has been out playing in the snow. Now it’s time to come in and warm up! The bears surround themselves with food and other things – as well as people! – that make them feel cozy. Then they fall asleep while the wind howls outside.

Parent reviewer: I read this with my 5-year-old, who loved it. Reading this led to a discussion about the things that make us cozy. The pictures are sweet and the story reminds us about focusing on the little things that bring us comfort.

Conversation-starter Ideas: The story makes it easy to ask questions like: what makes you feel cozy? What makes our family special?

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Mice Skating by Annie Silvestro
| picture book, ages 2 to 10 |

mice skating annie silvestroWhile all the other mice are hunkered down for the winter, Lucy is out enjoying everything the season has to offer. Try as she might, she couldn’t get her friends to join her, and her efforts to bring snow into the burrow were futile. Then one day, she discovered ice skating and is convinced that she can change the minds of her friends. Will it work? 

Parent reviewer: We all wanted to read this one again and again. Lucy takes the center ice and steals your heart in this lovely story of friendship, perseverance, and joy. Toddlers and preschoolers may not get the cheese-y references from Marcell or in the pictures, but older kids and adults will.

Conversation-starter ideas: Friendship and what makes a good friend may pop first, but the story opens the door to talking about change and fear (trying something new, taking risks doing something you’ve never done before)? Re-explore the book to see who can find the “cheesiest” references.

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I’ll Hug You More! by Laura Duksta
| picture book, ages 1 to 6 |

flip picture bookThis is a “flip” book with two stories, and both parent and child get to tell their story. When you read one side, a parent shares all the times when they will hug their child throughout the day, ending with a goodnight kiss.

When you flip the book, the child shares all the times THEY will hug their parent … ending with a goodnight kiss.

Parent reviewer: Love, love, love I’ll Hug You More. The illustrations are adorable, the rhyme is exceptional, and the fact that it will inspire hugs is awesome. 

Conversation-starter ideas: There are lots of different kinds of hugs  … which ones are your child’s favorite? Let the kids take the lead in reading the story and exploring the pages. Talk about all the things parents and kids can do together – and create a list of favorites.

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Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryant Obed
| illustrated chapter book, ages 8 to 12 |

short stories winterFrom the first ice, a thin skin on a bucket of water, through thickly-iced fields, streams, and gardens, a girl, her family, and friends anticipate and enjoy a winter of skating, ending with an ice show complete with costumes and refreshments. These are short stories about the author’s experiences of winters in Maine.

Young reader reaction: This book doesn’t focus on the ice. It focuses on the girl and all the special moments she had with family and friends. I would call it Twelve Kinds of Happiness because it fills you with all the happy memories you experience in winter.

Conversation-starter ideas: Each chapter/short story ends with an unfinished sentence. These create natural opportunities that give everyone a chance to share feelings, ideas, etc., and can spark conversations.

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Mangoes, Mischief and Tales of Friendship: Stories from India by Chitra Soundar
| illustrated chapter book, ages 7 to 10 |

diverse trickster folk taleIn King Bheema’s kingdom, his subjects can bring their troubles to court and ask the king for help. Whatever the need – poverty, theft, greed, misunderstanding – the king listens to each case and renders a decision. When Prince Veera learned that his father had to travel, he offered to hold court in his place. Afterall, he and his best friend Suku regularly listen. They are sure they are capable of holding court. King Bheema agreed, allowing the boys to handle only “simple cases.” Prince Veena and Suku quickly learned that simple was not the same as easy!

Parent Perspective: This is a delightful collection of trickster tales expertly woven together through the adventures of two boys who, despite their different backgrounds, are best of friends. Prince Veera and Suku have a natural give-and-take that kids can understand. Each story stands as its own chapter. Readers have the option of picking any story (based on title or illustrations that catch their eye) or starting at the beginning.

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Need more ideas?