It’s sweltering outside. But at least it’s not raining, right? Nevertheless, I’m doing that weird human thing where in the midst of the season I was praying for in January I am looking forward to the cool-off. Why can’t we just be happy with what we have? Well, I don’t know. Sometimes it’s too hot and sometimes it’s too cold and sometimes it’s too wet and sometimes it’s too dry… We don’t live on a perfect planet. And that’s okay. Because it gives us something to look forward to. In honor of that, today’s book recommendations are going to be good additions to a winter study. The season, ice, snow, snowflakes, hibernation and other animal habits–all of those things make great science studies. So how about a little literature to go along with it?
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
My favorite thing about winter is the very first snowfall. I don’t care if it happens in the daytime or the dark of night, I always go for a walk in it and listen to the hush of it, the silence of the earth as it welcomes the flakes, the stillness that happens at no other time, ever. I always take these walks by myself. Later, after the snow has really accumulated, that’s the time for Littles. The Snowy Day is about that littles’ time. It’s about a little boy’s day in the snow, and the wonder he encounters in a totally transformed city. You’ve probably read it. Read it again. It’s a great celebration of the winter season.
The Mitten by Jan Brett
I’m totally smitten with The Mitten. (Like how I did that?) This story is not only a good winter tale, it’s a wonderful reminder to share and be good to others. As all the animals pile one after another into a single mitten, your little will giggle and wonder how they all fit. And when a sneeze tumbles them all out into the snow, you’re sure to get an outright laugh. Brett’s wonderful illustrations are heartwarming, helping to keep the chill off of this wintry tale.
A Bird in Winter by Stepanie Girel and Helene Kerillis
This book combines two of my favorite things–Literature and great art. It’s based on Pieter Breugel’s painting The Hunters in the Snow. The premise is that of a young girl who nurses an injured bird back to health. It is also a good introduction to the Renaissance and to Breugel’s artwork. If you don’t know Breugel, he was a Renaissance painter from the Netherlands who was known for his landscapes, especially peasant scenes. I have long been fascinated with his work because it is so simple and true. The book contains a reproduction of the original, a picture of which I’m posting below. Because it’s amazing.
Frost (Book 1 of the Frost Chronicles) by Kate Avery Ellison
Frost is the first book in a superb YA series set in a world that is entirely immersed in winter. Monsters lurk in the wintry woods, and Lia, the protagonist, has to discover their secrets in order to protect her younger sister and her crippled brother. When her sister discovers a fascinating stranger who needs their help, Lia is forced to go against everything she has ever been taught to keep them all out of danger. Listen, there are 5 books in this series, and every single one of them is worth the read. Each book has its own twists and turns and the overall story is well-planned. Full of action, romance, and mystery, I think it will suck in any teen you gift it to. Oh, and it’s about winter.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Well. I had to include Dickens. You’re not really surprised, are you? (And The Shining by Stephen King .might not really be appropriate here.) I know, I know, there are about 10 million films out there based on it, including a Muppet version, and you’ve seen them all. It. Is. Not. The. Same. Even the Littles agreed that reading it exceeded watching it on film a million times over. Since it is set at Christmastime, every scene is in winter. And it’s Dickens. So you can’t beat it. Read it.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Set in Russia, Tolstoy’s epic novel of love gone wrong (and right) is a long read, but well worth it. It’s at the top of my list of all-time faves because of its close look at Russian classes and life and the numerous story lines that tie together and unravel so beguilingly. Believe me, in the end Anna isn’t even the star of the story, though she is, perhaps, the most tragic part.
Even if you’re just craving a cool-off right now, all of these books are excellent for bringing winter into your mind so that you can almost feel it.
Now if you can excuse me, I’m going to go get in the pool. And pretend I’m a polar bear. In the Arctic.
Day One: Donkeys Day Two: Summer Day Three: Water
Day Four: Insects Day Five: Owls Day Six: Bears