Outdoor activities with a healthy dose of curiosity, brought to you by Laure Latham
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With these 12 books for kids on winter and the holidays, embrace the festive season at home and celebrate the peaceful changes that nature shows in winter! From the original Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer story to the inventor of earmuffs or a craft book for the whole family, these books will get your little ones in the right mood and accompany some of the rituals that accompany the shortest nights of the year. Happy holidays and happy winter solstice to you all!
Just Right For Christmas
By Birdie Black & Rosalind Beardshaw
Perfect for the spirit of the season, this little book tells a tale of generosity trickling down a series of people and animals. After a king has a cloak made with bright-red cloth, the remnants are used to make a jacket for the mother of the castle’s kitchen maid, and the remnants get re-used again until they end up as a scarf for the youngest mouse in the kingdom. Young ones will love the lovely winter illustrations and the message of sharing and joy.
Ages: 9 months+
Peppa Pig and the Day at Snowy Mountain
Created by Neville Astley and Mark Baker
It’s snowing! Waking up to snowy skies out the window, Peppa Pig and her family decide to head to Snowy Mountain for a day of good old winter fun. They go sledding (without a sled, oh dear), skating (who’s a natural?), up the mountain on the ski lift (Daddy Pig is afraid of heights) and skiing (with Madame Gazelle the ski coach). Expect funny situations, just as in real life. If you’re snow-bound this winter, this fun little book has all the ingredients of a fun family day at any snowy mountain.
Ages: 2 – 5 years
Maisy’s Christmas Tree
Written and illustrated by Lucie Cousins
Nothing like a tree-shaped book with sparkly text and bobs to make you feel festive! When Maisy decorates her tree, she calls her friends and each one adds a different item, reminiscent of the holidays. Whether it’s lights, candy canes or ornaments, they all decorate together and finish on that most cherished tradition: caroling.
Ages: 2 – 5 years
Flora and the Penguin
Illustrated by Molly Idle
Having mastered ballet in Flora and the Flamingo, young Flora takes to the ice on her white skates and forms an unlikely skating duo with a penguin. Using only pictures to tell the story, the author takes the reader through charming scenes on an ice shelf. Using lift-the-flap surprises and subtle face features to suggest changing emotions, the book is an ode to friendship (and skating with your penguin friends). A must before the holidays ice skating rinks and hot chocolates!
Ages: 3 – 5 years
Star Bright, A Christmas Story
Written and illustrated by Alison McGhee and Peter H. Reynolds
This creative take on the Nativity shows a little angel looking for a special gift for a baby to be born at the end of the December. Will it be wind? But wind is the gift of the sky. Rain? But rain was the gift of the clouds. Each gift that the angel considers has already been given by someone else, until the young angel has a bright idea. Using simple words and cute pictures, this book is a sweet bedtime read and will particularly for families with young babies.
Ages: 3 – 7 years
What Forest Knows
Written by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by August Hall
Forest knows snow, icy branches, frozen waterfalls, squirrels asleep in hollows, insects burrowed in bark, moles resting among roots. As a forest goes through the seasons, the poetic text and stunning illustrations of this book show us tell-tale signs of each of the changes. Celebrating the beauty of forests and the variety of their wildlife, this book reads like a poetic hike. If you have a forest near you, plan a visit with your little ones and enjoy the season!
Ages: 5 – 8 years.
Three Little Owls
Written by Emanuele Luzzati, illustrated by Quentin Blake, translated by John Yeoman
Translated from the Italian, this story shows three little owls who start and end a journey around the world on Christmas day. More of a nonsensical journey, less of a holiday book, Three Little Owls will still capture the imagination of young readers with mischief, faraway lands and a festive jumbo-sized basket full of fine treats.
Ages: 5 – 8 years.
Hanukcats and Other Traditional Jewish Songs for Cats
Written by Laurie Loughlin, illustrated by Gemma Correll
Even if you don’t know (or remember) the tune to these traditional Jewish songs, the cat take on Hanukkah is pretty hilarious. Just reading them will be quite fun for the family. From “we want some tuna and chicken” to “Hanukkah Messes,” the tiny book even got creative on songs for other celebrations. Perfect for any cat family, bonus points for a silly sense of humor!
Ages: All ages.
And Then Comes Christmas
Written by Tom Brenner, illustrated by Jana Christy
For a non-religious take on Christmas traditions, this book has everything you need to feel festive. Using a repetitive pattern, the author introduces familiar Christmas activities. When boughs of holly welcome winter and frost glistens on fence posts, then fill the windows with paper snowflakes and frame the house with colored lights. After the elves and reindeer appear in stores, after the tree is decorated, after the concerts are over and after a tray is set out with cookies and milk, then it’s Christmas. The soft blurry edges of the warm-colored images add to the cozy winter feel of this book.
Ages: 4 – 8 years.
Earmuffs For Everyone! How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs
Written and illustrated by Meghan McCarthy
What says winter better than a fluffy and fuzzy pair of earmuffs? Ah, but for a very long time, there were no earmuffs at all. There were ear slippers or funny ear protectors, but the earmuffs that we know were truly invented by Chester Greenwood from Maine where bitter cold winters guarantee the necessity for warm earmuffs. A great read for budding inventors, this book will tell kids not only how earmuffs came about but how they can patent their own invention!
Ages: 4 – 8 years.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Written by Robert L. May, illustrated by Antonio Javier Caparo
If you were Santa and had trouble navigating the skies on Christmas night because of foggy weather, wouldn’t you be happy to find a young reindeer with a red nose that shines so bright? In 1939 Robert L. May, a copywriter working at Chicago’s Montgomery Ward & Co., wrote a holiday story at the request of his employer. Almost two and a half million copies of the little tale about a reindeer with a shiny red nose were given away to all the children who visited Montgomery Ward stores that year. For the 75th anniversary edition of the tale, expect the original rhyming text as well as lush illustrations by Cuban artist Antonio Javier Caparo. Then if you’re feeling nostalgic, you can watch the 1964 stop-movie animation while sipping a hot chocolate. Aaah, vintage holidays….
Ages: 4 – 8 years.
Handcrafted Christmas. Ornaments, Decorations, and Cookie Recipes To Make At Home
Written by Susan Waggoner, photographed by Dane Holweger
This book will delight fans of nostalgia and vintage decorations that graced old family photographs. Recreating ornaments invented between the 1920s and the 1960s, Susan Waggoner modernizes the list of materials and simplifies the steps of retro Christmas decorations. While you may not start immediately with the red-glitter little village house or the diorama ornament (so cute, though), you can certainly tackle easier projects such as the lucky pinecones, Noël blocks or chenille candy canes with kids as little helpers. If some pages look right out of Mad Men, it’s normal. Long live vintage!
Ages: for the whole family, crafty ones in particular.