Winter can be a magical time of year. Temperatures drop, everyone bundles up and the landscape is transformed into a winter wonderland, covered in a sugary layer of ice and snow. So grab a cozy mug of hot cocoa and dig into some great titles with beautiful winter imagery.

Over and Under the Snow (Grades K-3, Lexile 700): The charming illustrations in this picture book evoke the adventure of learning about nature on a cross-country ski trip as a father and daughter team learn about a secret winter kingdom under the snow.

“Under the snow, fat bullfrogs snooze. They dream of sun-warmed days, back when they had tails.”

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy (Grades 3-7, Level T): Ophelia, along with her sister and newly widowed father, journey to an unnamed city caught forever in the middle of a perpetual winter, where her father has a job working on a new museum exhibit about historical swords. There, Ophelia becomes involved in a quest to free a little boy from the clutches of Miss Kaminiski, the beautiful but cold head of the museum. This modern retelling of the classic Snow Queen fairy tale is full of breathtaking and wondrous descriptions of a frozen city covered in snow and ice.

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold (Grades 1-4): This new picture book from Newbery Honor winner Joyce Sidman pairs lyrical poetry and beautiful illustrations with informational sidebars to create a series of wintery nature vignettes.

“Snowflake wakes, whirling, arms outstretched, lace sprouting from fingertips/ Leaps, laughing in a dizzy cloud, a pinwheel gathering glitter.”

Winter is Coming (Grades P-3): A young girl takes her journal to her treehouse in the woods every day in the months leading to winter. She records the changes in the natural world—animals gather food, sunsets arrive earlier, leaves turn colors before falling—as she patiently waits for the seasons to change. The illustrations by Jim LaMarche pair perfectly with the minimalist poetry of the text.

The Polar Express (Grades PreK-3, Level N, Lexile 520): Chris Van Allsburg’s Caldecott award winning illustrations carry the reader through a beautiful winter landscape in this classic holiday adventure.

“The mountains turned into hills, the hills to snow-covered plains. We crossed a barren desert of ice—the Great Polar Ice Cap. Lights appeared in the distance. They looked like the lights of a strange ocean liner sailing on a frozen sea. ‘There,’ said the conductor, ‘is the North Pole.’

Over and Under the Snow - Kate Messner Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold Winter is Coming The Polar Express
Snow - Cynthia Rylant Owl Moon - Jane Yolen Stopping By Woods Dogteam A Christmas Carol


Snow
(Grades P-2, Lexile AD840): Join a young girl and her friend as they explore all the wonderful things a snow day has to offer in this appealing picture book.

“The best snow is the snow that comes softly in the night, like a shy friend afraid to knock, so she thinks she’ll just wait in the yard until you see her. This is the snow that brings you peace.”

Owl Moon (Grades K-3, Level O, Lexile 630): Join a girl and her dad as they search for owls on a moonlit winter’s night. This classic picture book brings to mind the cold, crisp evenings of the season.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (Grades K-8): It doesn’t get much better than this Frost classic, but pair it with some gorgeous illustrations that add depth to the story and you have a special picture-book adaptation that appeals to younger students too.

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep/But I have promises to keep/And miles to go before I sleep/And miles to go before I sleep.”

Dogteam (Grades K-4, Level L, Lexile AD960): Gary Paulsen takes the reader on an adventurous nighttime romp through a winter landscape in this illustrated poem.

“In the full moon when it is blue and white on the snow at the same time, so bright and clean and open you could read in the dark, we harness the dogs and run at night.”

A Christmas Carol (Grades 4-8, Level U, Lexile 900): Using the desolate, cold winter season of 19th century London as the backdrop to a story of transformation and love is pretty much a literary dream come true.

“He went to the church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of homes, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed of any walk, that anything, could give him so much happiness.”