For a long while now, I have kept a thematic picture book basket out at my house. Each season, holiday, theme, etc. I change out the books. I own a great deal of these books from my former kindergarten classroom, but you can always get these titles from the library. 

I keep my picture books organized in magazine holders. This way, at the start of each season I’m not wasting time looking under kids’ beds or scouring my children’s book shelves trying to locate the book I want. I simply pull out that magazine box, remove the old books and put them in their holder and ….Voila, a picture book basket ready to go.

It has been fun pulling out the same books for the past several years and hearing my kids exclaim, “Oh, I love this one” or “This one is my favorite.” These books have become part of our family culture. Now that my kids are all reading, they have started pulling these books out to read in their free time and the familiarity of the text has helped them in their independent reading. When I first started, we would read together from this basket daily. Now that my kids have grown and I frequently read more chapter books to them, we simply read when we have a free moment. If you don’t own enough books to fill a magazine holder, start with what you have and clip an index card to the back. On this card, keep a list of book ideas. Then as you find books at yard sales and thrift stores, you cross them off the list and add to the box. You can also take this card with you to the library. I have always had trouble locating holiday books at the library when I want them, so depending on your library you may have to put in a hold request before the books get snatched up.

Here’s the magazine holders I use.

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

So on to the recommendations…

Winter Themed Books:

These books by Jan Brett. She is a master storyteller and her illustrations are incredible.

The Three Snow Bears

 The Hat,

The Mitten

Animals in Winter- This nonfiction book is a great introduction to the behaviors of animals in Winter. Great to pair with making a bird feeder and observing who comes visiting.

Owl Moon- The illustrations in this book are phenomenal. Great inspiration for watercolor paintings, focus on perspective.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats- Total classic. I read this over and over again as a child.

Katy and the Big Snow by Viriginia Lee Burton- This book is a classic for a reason. Big hit with my son who loves trucks:)

Stella, Queen of Snow by Marie-Louise Gay- Great story of exploring winter with a younger sibling who asks a LOT of questions.

Frozen Noses by Jan Carr- Great read for toddlers and preschoolers.

The Biggest, Best Snowman by Cuyler- This tops the list as my kids favorite winter book. In this story a little girls wants to make a snowman, but her older sisters tell her she is too little. With the help of some animal friends, she makes a huge snowman and shows her family that she is not so little after all.

The Little Polar Bear by Hans de Beer- Ok, so this book isn’t really about winter as the little polar bear travels away from the north pole and has to find his way back home. I wasn’t sure what other theme this went with, so I put it in Winter and it is such a heartwarming story that I wouldn’t miss this one.

My First Little House Books….Of course, can’t have a book basket without Little House:) (Winter Days in the Big Woods, Sugar Snow, Winter on the Farm)

The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonders- This nonfiction book is a fascinating introduction to the science of snow.

Snowflake Bentley by Martin- Fascinating look at the man who first photographed snowflakes. The illustrations garnered the Caldecott medal.


Winter Chapter Books:

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder- This story of the Ingalls family when the blizzard of 1880 hit the dakota territory will make you want to curl under some blankets and sit by the fire.

Snow Treasure by McSwigan- This story set in Norway during World War II is full of action and suspense. Imagine carrying nine million dollars worth of gold on your sled! Your child will never see sledding the same again.

Hans Brinkler, The Silver Skates by Dodge- A Dutch brother and sister work toward two goals–finding the doctor who can restore their father’s memory and winning the competition for the silver skates. Great story of sibling love and determination.

Heidi by Johanna Spyri- So this book doesn’t take place only in Winter, but I love the images of the snowy alps and imagining those on a dreary Winter day.