Reading just 10 to 15 minutes a day with your children can help ignite a love of books and language. They’ll get even more out of that time together if you ask questions or incorporate activities to pique their interest.
First, set the stage. Ask questions about the front and back covers and title page. Look at the pictures. What do you think this book is about? What kind of story do you think this is: funny, exciting? Can you guess what will happen? Who wrote the book? What does an illustrator do? How many pages/chapters are there?
Then, when you’re done reading, recap and reflect. Ask your child: what was your favorite part of the story? Which pictures did you like the most? Were you surprised about what happened? Can you tell the story in your own words?
Get started with five classic books that celebrate winter. After you turn the last page, try these activities to bring the stories—and the joy of reading—to life.
Classic Stories and Activities
The Snowy Day, by Ezra Keats (Viking Juvenile, 1963; ages 0-3). In this Caldecott Medal-winner, a city boy spends a delightful day in the snow.
Activity: In the story, Peter tucks a snowball in his pocket. As he gets ready for bed, it melts. What happened? Why do some things melt and others don’t? Time which melts faster: a snowball or an ice cube.
Winter Trees, by Carole Gerber (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2008; ages 4-7). This book introduces children to the art of observing nature. A boy and his dog use their senses to identify seven snow-covered trees.
Activity: Look out your window or take a walk. Are all the trees the same? Different? What trees are in your neighborhood?
The Mitten, by Jan Brett (Putnam Juvenile, 1989; ages 4-8). In this gorgeously illustrated retelling of a Ukranian folktale, a boy loses his mitten. Woodland animals try the mitten on, then the unexpected happens.
Activity: Notice the illustrations in the margins. Can your children predict which animal will show up next? Could this happen to your mittens or gloves? Which animal got in first? Which was last? Can your kids remember all the animals in order?
A Hat for Minerva Louise, by Janet Morgan Stoeke (Puffin, 1997; ages 2-10). It’s getting cold out, so silly Minerva searches for something to keep her head warm.
Activity: Have an indoor scavenger hunt. If your child lost her hat, what could she wear instead?
Snowflake Bentley, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin (Houghton Mifflin, 1998; ages 4-8). The exquisite woodcuts in this 1999 Caldecott Medal-winner describe Wilson Bentley’s quest to capture snowflakes on film. Along the way he discovers two truths: each snowflake is unique, and each one is beautiful.
Activity: Make paper snowflakes. Or make a flake catcher. How? Store black construction paper in the freezer. When it’s snowing, go outside to catch some flakes on the paper. Next, use a magnifying glass to study them. What shapes do you see? Which is your favorite? Why?
Justine Ickes is a freelance writer and mom to two young boys.