Winter Chapter Books for Kids

Winter themed chapter books make perfect read alouds for the cold weather days ahead. Some of these are books about winter, others simply evoke snowy, frosty landscapes that make you want to snuggle up with a mug of tea. They are the best kind of book to read with your children during the holidays or when the blizzards are raging outside.

Winter chapter books for kids: Fairy tales, animal stories, ice skating and more.

The winter-themed books on this list are primarily middle grade fiction. They are good independent reads for kids ages 8 and up, but kids younger than that will appreciate listening to many of them. Children’s listening comprehension is higher than their reading comprehension levels, so don’t be afraid to try out one of these titles. (As always, I’ve chosen all books based solely on my and my kids’ opinions. Affiliate links are included.)

I’ve divided the books up into smaller categories for ease of organization: animals, fairy tale-ish stories, ice skating and more realistic fiction (plus one non-fiction selection).

Fairy Tale Winter Chapter Books:

Neil Gaiman’s Odd and the Frost Giants is inspired by Norse Mythology. (Is there anything more perfect for a winter read than that?) In ancient Norway a boy named Odd is in the middle of a spell of bad luck. In the forest, he meets a bear, a fox and an eagle who tell him a strange story that sends him on a journey to save the city of the gods from the Frost Giants. Sound winter-y enough for you? I thought so. It’s really quite delightful and will make a fun read aloud while sipping a mug of hot cocoa. I’m told it’s a great choice for fans of Percy Jackson, though I have yet to read that bestselling series. Also available as an ebook. 

A while ago, when I used to do a Mom’s Bookshelf series (who knows, maybe I will again, eventually), I included Breadcrumbs in my middle grade fiction edition (as well as the two books below). I think this book will be best enjoyed by kids who are familiar with a lot of fairytales. The book was inspired by Hans Christian Andersson’s The Snow Queen (which was also the inspiration for Disney’s Frozen – a movie I am rather dreading, but will probably watch anyway). There are a lot of literary references in the book and it is very well written. Hazel and Jack are friends, but one day when Jack gets a piece of glass in his eye he is whisked away by a strange, evil woman to a land of snow. Hazel sets out on a journey to find her friend and return home. Even as a read aloud, I think this is better for kids at least 8 and up, not because the material is inappropriate but because it is sophisticated. Also available as an ebook.

Icefall. Solveig and her brothers, along with berserkers set to protect them, wait anxiously through the winter, trapped in a fortress near snowy mountains and the frozen sea. While they wait for word from their father the King, it slowly becomes clear that someone amongst them is a traitor, but who? This is a thrilling mystery for kids who like stories that keep them perched on the edge of their chair in tense anticipation. This was one of the best middle grade books of 2011, in my opinion. Also available as an ebook. (Check pricing, because as of this writing, the Kindle version was on sale for $1.99, and well worth that price.)

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. I’ve always like the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon and I’ve read a couple of novel-length versions of the tale. This one is my favorite. Lass accompanies a polar bear to the North Pole in an effort to save her family. If she can survive one year and a day, her family will be rewarded with wealth. What she doesn’t know, however, is the polar bear is hiding a secret. If you have a fairy-tale loving kid who is ready to take it to the next level, this might be a place to start. Also available as an ebook.

I’ve never read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to my kids (I loved the series when I was younger, of course). Time to remedy that! Mmmm, I’m hungry for some Turkish Delight just thinking about it. Also available as an ebook.

Moominland Midwinter. What would winter be without a little Finnish madness? Nothing I tell you. It is an excellent counterpart to our Moomin reading adventures this past summer. Moomins normally sleep through the winter, but this year, Moomintroll has woken up early and sets out to discover the truth about winter. Also available as an ebook.

Nancy and Plum. This 1952 book from the author of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is the perfect recipe for an old-fashioned read aloud:  two orphaned sisters, an unctuous boarding school mistress who feeds them hard oatmeal, a wealthy bachelor uncle, a Christmas setting and a feel good ending in which the bad fail and the good triumph.  Read it aloud over the winter break when the kids are home from school. Also available as an ebook.

Winter Chapter Books about Animals:

The Adventures of a South Pole Pig: A novel of snow and courage. I just read this aloud to the boys (ages 8 and 4) and thought it quite delightful. Atop her manure pile, Flora dreams of exciting adventures; she longs to get out into the world! She want to go on an expedition and run with the sled dogs! There’s just one problem. She’s a pig. Finding herself on a ship headed for Antarctica, she digs deep inside her optimistic and brave little self to make her dreams come true. Also available as an ebook.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins. This Newbery Honor book from 1938 is still as funny today as it was then. Mr. Popper and his family adopt a penguin sent to them by an explorer. The brood grows to 12 penguins and hijinks ensue. We first listened to this as an audiobook when my youngest son was almost 4 and he enjoyed it immensely, especially the scene in which the Poppers flood the basement with water, then freeze it. Also available as an ebook.

Stone Fox is an early chapter book I have on my list of books about boys. This is quite a touching story about Willy, who in order to save his grandfather’s farm decides to enter the annual dog sledding race. The resolution between Willy and the longtime winner of the race, Stone Fox, a Native American, is unexpectedly emotional. Readers who like books about dogs in snow should also check out Balto and the Great Race and (of courseThe Call of the Wild, which is a free ebook as it is out of copyright now. Also available as an ebook.

Ice Skating Chapter Books:

Twelve Kinds of Ice. Technically, this isn’t soley about ice skating, but it will sure make you strap on the ol’ skates after reading it. Twenty very short chapters and utterly winsome old-fashioned drawings from Barbara McClintock make this book a real treasure. Those of you who grew up in cold climates will start to get nostalgic for the perfect skating ice, first ice, stream ice, and so on. So delightful. Really. Also available as an ebook.

For good old fashioned fun you can’t go wrong with one of the “Shoes” books. In Skating Shoes a doctor deems skating the ticket to Harriet’s recovery from and illness. She meets Lalla at the rink, and the two bond over their skating careers. This book is a fun read aloud.

In Sugar and Ice, seventh grader Clare’s talent for skating is spotted at a local show and she quickly becomes enmeshed in the world of skating, with its pressures and rivalries. This realistic story of a girl who discovers her strengths and navigates relationships while pursuing her dreams is a good independent read for ages 8 and up.

Realities of Winter Chapter Books:

Blizzard!: The Storm That Changed America. Why not throw in a nonfiction book for good measure? This fact-filled book tells the nail-biting story of the 1888 blizzard that hit  Northwestern America. The focus is primarily on New York City — after all it takes a mammoth storm to bring that city to a standstill, but the far reaching consequences are thoroughly covered.

Confession: I have never read a Little House book to my kids. I started to read Farmer Boy as part of our summer reading, but the boys didn’t take to it and we stopped before finishing. We are in the minority, however, and maybe we will give The Long Winter a go when the mercury starts to drop.

I rarely include books I haven’t read on my lists, but I’m including The Winter Room because Paulsen is an excellent author whose work I have enjoyed and I love the sound of this book. I just haven’t had a chance to read it yet. From the Kirkus review: More a prose poem than a novel, this beautifully written evocation of a Minnesota farm perhaps 40 years ago consists of portraits of each of the four seasons, along with four brief stories told by old Uncle David in the room the family calls “The Winter Room.” Also available as an ebook.

What do your think of these books? Which ones have you read? What winter themed chapter books would you add to the list? I love to chat in the comments or you can connect with me on Facebook.

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  1. says

    Very interesting! I love the sound of Nancy and Plum. Have you read On The Banks of Plum Creek? Its pretty boy friendly as there is so much detail about how they built (dug) their house.

    • Erica MomandKiddo says

      I read all the Little House books when I was growing up and did love them. We’ve only tried Farmer Boy, but we could try Plum Creek. I love how everyone is telling me to give the books another chance. I’ll have to listen to everyone’s advice!

  2. teachingyoungchildren says

    I see several titles here that I found intriguing. I read a couple of Neil Gaiman’s books and found them not age appropriate for younger kids, but I trust your judgement on this one. Now it’s time to put them on hold in our library.

  3. Jen says

    Thanks for a great list! I love reading Winter-themed books during our hot Summers. My favourites are The Box of Delights by John Masefield and The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. My boys didn’t like Farmer Boy either – which surprised me as I loved it as a child. They got freaked out by the first chapter about the school boy fighting with the teacher who whips him – maybe I’ll skip this chapter next time and see if they like it any better!

    • Erica MomandKiddo says

      Those two are great, too. Jen. I almost put Box of Delights on the list, but I forgot about The Dark is Rising. That would had been a good choice. The chapter with the whipping was about as far as we got too. It was a bit much! I had forgotten about that chapter, but I also don’t remember being freaked out by it as a kid — maybe I was, I just don’t remember.

  4. says

    I’m going to go ahead and sit my kids down and make them listen to me read them Mr. Poppers Penguins. (Plus I requested a couple more from your list from the library. I love book people like you.

  5. says

    Erica, do I love this list! ALL the covers are wonderful :) I’ve only read “Narnia” though, just THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE.

    Of course, any time I hear about the “Shoes” books, I think of YOU’VE GOT MAIL 😀

  6. Sarah says

    If my memory (and a friend’s recent comment) are correct, Little House in the Big Woods is more accessible than the other Little House books (the kids are younger, it’s also the first book – maybe she had to work harder to get someone to publish it). Also, I remember winter scenes in Wisconsin (such as melting snow to make a bath). The friend I recently spoke to said she read it to her daughter 15 times in a row when her daughter was 6 or 7. Now, that’s a recommendation!

  7. says

    I love this collection! (You know how I love seasonal reads . . . ) I’m so glad you included Skating Shoes. I loved all the Shoes books as a child, and I want kids to read them again! I’ve also been wanting to read Twelve Kinds of Ice and Breadcrumbs, so hopefully I’ll have a chance come January.

  8. says

    My girls love Jessica Day George. Dragon Slippers and Tuesdays at the Castle are two of their favorites. And Laura Ingalls Wilder is still one of my favorites. Sarah is correct – Little House in the Big Woods is the most accessible and easiest to read. The worst thing that happens is a cousin who doesn’t do what he’s told ends up getting stung all over by bees – but he survives! For the most part, Wilder left out the harsher things from her life out of her children’s books, but there are a few realities, mostly in the books about when she was older.

    • Erica MomandKiddo says

      I’ve read some interesting things about how Rose Wilder edited the books to make the Ingalls’ family appear more independent and self-reliant than communities actually were.

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