Bright Ideas

Books for Exploring Winter Environments

Natural Start

Winter is a time of quiet and gentle beauty in the outdoors. We collected here some of our favorite books for bringing winter worlds to life and giving children views into parts of winter environments that they might not normally see. And one of our favorites doesn't focus on wildlife or wild places at all, but instead follows a young child through winter adventures in the city. After all, we live in all kinds of different environments and cities have their own special beauty in winter.


Owl Moon
By Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr

If you've ever been owling in winter, you know it's cold and quiet in a winter forest at night. Through its words and pictures, this book transports readers to a cold winter forest at night, and helps capture the wonder of seeing wild animals like owls.
Over and Under the Snow
By Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal
Because winter landscapes might look quiet and even barren, we often forget that many animals remain in the forest, but are hidden under the snow. This book takes readers on a cross-country ski trip with a girl and her father to discover "the secret kingdom beneath the snow."
Stranger in the Woods 
by Carl R. Sams and Jean Stoick
While most children's books feature beautiful artwork, Stranger in the Woods is unique because its story is told through wildlife photography. The book explores forest animals' reactions to a snowman in the woods after a winter snow. The photos lend a realism that's unusual in books for young children, and gives children a real-life look at life in a snowy forest. 
Animals in Winter
by Henrietta Bancroft and Helen K. Davie 
The Common Core State Standards emphasize non-fiction reading, starting in kindergarten. As a result, many parents and teachers are looking for nonfiction books that will capture children's interest. Animals in Winter is an early science book that keeps the ideas simple and the pictures plentiful. And along the way, young children can learn about what different animals do as winter approaches. 
The Snowy Day
by Ezra Jack Keats
The Snowy Day has no winter animals or snowy forests. But it so exquisitely and simply captures a young child's perspective of a snowy day in the city that it can't be overlooked as a winter reading classic. And while it doesn't feature forests or wildlife, this book celebrates children's delight in exploring the snow—its sounds, textures, and properties—on their own, even in the city. 
Snowflake Bentley
by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
This Caldecott Medal winner tells the story of Wilson Bentley, who was the first to discover that no two snowflakes are alike. The illustrations' wintry palette of blues and whites showcases Bentley's happiest days -- snowstorm days. This is a story of perseverance and experimentation to catch the fleeting snowflakes, "as beautiful as butterflies or apple blossoms."
Winter (Nature Projects for Every Season Series)
by Phyllis S. Busch
Providing an answer to the question, "What is there to do in winter?", this book lists simple activities that promote inquiry and hands-on exploration. Budding scientists will enjoy both the outdoor  ("Examine some leaves on the snow", "Where do icicles form?") and the indoor activity suggestions ("How much water is there in snow?").


books, winter