“I remember that winter because it had brought the heaviest snows I had ever seen. Snow had fallen steadily all night long and in the morning I woke in a room filled with light and silence, the whole world seemed to be held in a dream-like stillness. It was a magical day… and it was on that day I made the Snowman. ~ Raymond Briggs
Here is a collection of wonderful picture books about snowmen. In addition to making readers want to get outdoors to build fabulous snow people, they provide much inspiration for creative art experiences, storytelling, taking pictures, engaging in inquires about snow and about animals in winter. They encourage reading, writing, rhyming, counting, exploring, singing and making art. They are filled with winter magic and with joy. I hope you will find something in these heart-warming and very cool books to share in your classroom or in your home.
Ehlert, Lois. Snowballs. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace, 1995.
Snowballs is a wonderful book, and offers young readers so much. The simple text, written in a large, easy-to-read font, along with Ehlert’s vibrant collage illustrations, turn building a snowman into a grand adventure! It features a snowman, a snow woman, a snow boy, girl and baby, and also a snow cat and dog, showing a variety of possibilities that exist, whether you create these characters using paper, or actual snow. Children can search in the pictures to identify the many loose parts they could use, which include: seeds, dried and fresh fruit, popcorn, shoelaces, hats, branches, buttons, leaves, stones and more. At the end of the book is a page that features all of the “good stuff” that Ehlert used to create her illustrations, as well as some photographs of actual snow people, and explanations of snow and what makes it snow. I highly recommend this story for inquiries it inspires, both with art materials and with snow, and for the possibilities it suggests for a deeper winter exploration.
Fleming, Denise. The First Day of Winter. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2005.
This is joyful and fun story which can be sung to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Fleming’s repetitive text aids young children in remembering the words, reading along and also counting to ten. Her playful illustrations, rendered in coloured cotton fibre, hand-cut stencils and squeeze bottles, will make readers want to go outside and play in the snow! Like Snowballs, this story suggests a variety of materials that can be used for building a snow person, including a cap, mittens, scarves, pinecones, twigs, leaves, berries, peanuts and buttons. Each item can be counted as you proceed through each page. The addition of birdseed pockets, is something to consider the next time you actually go outdoors to build a snow person, which could bring learning about birds into the outdoor experience! By the time the snow person in the book is complete, s/he is dancing with all of the little birds and animals encountered along the way – yet another fun thing to search for in the pictures.
Hillenbrand, Will. Snowman’s Story. New York: Two Lions, 2014
This is a magical, wordless picture book, rendered by the artist in graphite pencil, coloured pencil, chalk pastel, pixels, china marker, crayon, ink, watercolour, collage, transparent tape, kneaded eraser on paper. It is an adventure story, which involves a snowman, a special book, the naughty rabbit who “steals” it and a collective effort to get the book back. And it has a delightful surprise ending. Snowman’s Story inspires so many ideas for extending the reading experience. Children can look closely at the illustrations and tell their own story, which an adult can scribe for them, though they can be encouraged to write their own text too. Children could use some of the materials the artist did, to create their own wintery illustrations. There is a lot to be learned here about what makes a compelling story, how to tell it, and how to create images that make readers want to keep turning the pages.
“Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.” ~ Vesta M. Kelly
Newbold, Amy and Greg. If Picasso Painted a Snowman. Thomaston, Maine: Tilbury House Publishers, 2017.
I love this book for so many reasons. Most importantly, it challenges young readers to imagine a snowman as something other than three circles stacked one on top of the other. After reading this book children will have no choice but to see all the choices available to them! Amy Newbold imagines how seventeen famous artists might have represented a snowman. Children will be introduced to many genres (cleverly captured by Greg Newbold in each of the different artists’ styles) including: cubism, pop art, impressionism, surrealism, pointillism, and abstract art, to name a few. The book concludes with an introduction to artists such as Turner, Lichtenstein, O’Keeffe, Klimt, Monet, Dali and Van Gogh and a message of encouragement to draw, explore and have fun. As you read the book, pay attention to the hamster who guides us through each art work, at times wearing a beret, a long, waxed moustache, and a bandage on his left ear.
Sams, Carl R. and Jean Stoick. Stranger in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy. Markham: Scholastic Canada, 2001
This is a stunning book, beautifully illustrated with photographs of various animals, including deer, chickadees, blue jays, owls, muskrats, squirrels, porcupines, rabbits, mice and cardinals, all finding ways to adapt to the season. This could become part of an engaging inquiry on animals in winter. The poetic text captures what the animals might be thinking when they discover a tall, white, snowy stranger in the forest, wearing a hat and gloves, and covered with nuts and seeds, carrots and corn. Though they do not know who the stranger is, they enjoy eating the special treats that they find. When the fawn notices a red mitten on the ground, readers get a clue as to who left the treats for the forest animals. We discover that two children have taken on the responsibility of providing food that will help the animals survive the winter. In addition to an important message about caring for nature, the book concludes with a wonderful recipe for a snowman.
Schertle, Alice. All You Need for a Snowman. San Diego: Harcourt, 2002
Barbara Lavallee’s gorgeous and delicate paintings, rendered in watercolor and gouache, bring to life Schertle’s musical, playful poem about what is needed to make a snowman. Readers are walked through the steps involved in building a snowman from “billions of snowflakes piled in a mound, pat them and pack them and roll them around” until we have “three hand-packed, triple-stacked balls of snow.” Readers will recognize all the things that are part of a snowman’s transformation – a hat, bottle caps, a carrot, buttons, scarf and earmuffs. Throughout the story we see many children from the neighbourhood, working collaboratively to collect what is needed to dress the snowman, and bring him to life realizing…as we reach the end… when the snow begins to fall again… that an important thing missing is a snowman’s friend.
“Snowmen aren’t forever, but their memories are.” ~ Unknown