If you're like most people, you dream about one day seeing the phenomenon known as the northern lights. Even if you can't get to a northern latitude anytime soon, these gorgeous picture books about the northern lights will set you and your family dreaming of the colorful spectacle.
These children's books are all fiction picture books, and some of them include informative end notes about the science behind the aurora borealis. For further nonfiction reading, your library will have good selections.
What are the Northern Lights?
Although different northern cultures have passed down legends and myths about the northern lights, the phenomenon known as the aurora borealis (or aurora australis in the south!) is caused by charged particles from the sun hitting Earth's atmosphere.
Fortunately for us, Earth's magnetic field offers the necessary protection and allows us to safely view the awe-inspiring swirls of color and light that hover in the sky at the north and south poles.
The light display is only visible at night, and best viewed in winter, which is why all of these children's books about the aurora borealis take place on frosty winter nights.
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Children's Books about the Aurora Borealis
Seeking an Aurora by Elizabeth Pulford, illustrated by Anne Bannock
A child and their father head out into the night to seek the aurora borealis. The child doesn't know about the polar lights, or what they are and as they trek across the landscape, they pepper the father with questions. Once they reach an open area where they can see the vast sky, they can finally witness the swirling, colorful majesty of the aurora borealis. The text is spare, but the illustrations dance gracefully across the pages. An end notes gives scientific information about the northern lights. Ages 3 and up.
Once upon a Northern Light by Jean E. Pendziwol, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
This lovely, lyrical lullaby opens with a sleeping boy. The story conveys the way winter nights are full of life and movement, although somehow still silent. The overall feeling when you read this book is cozy and warm, despite the wide open spaces and frosty scenes on the pages. The illustrations are soft, with blacks, whites and grays but the northern lights fill the sky with color. Ages 3 and up.
The Lights that Dance in the Night by Yuval Zommer
This story separates itself from the rest of the books about the northern lights in that the aurora borealis is the narrator! A plethora of wildlife and Indigenous peoples gaze in wonder as the lights describe how they move across the sky and create magic on their journey. Luminous. Ages 4 and up.
Mika: The Bear Who Didn't Want to Sleep by Erik Kriek
Find it: Amazon
Don't you love the retro look of this book? This Dutch import is simply wonderful. Mika doesn't want to hibernate! The young bear wants to stay awake and see the Northern Lights. Sneaking out at night he asks the other animals where he can find the lights. Finally, with the help of the Old Owl, he reaches his goals and basks in the colorful glow, just in time for his parents to find him.
SkySisters by Jan Bourdeau Waboose, illustrated by Brian Deines
Two Ojibway sisters bundle up and head outside where they observe and appreciate the winter nighttime landscape. As they travel across the snow, they take delight in their footprints, the taste of icicles and the animals they see. As the wind rises and they dance and make snow angels, they are finally rewarded by the colorful showing of the SkySpirits. Wonderful, a must read. Ages 5 and up.
In the Sky at Nighttime by Laura Deal, illustrated by Tamara Campeau
Repeating the phrase, "In the sky at nighttime..." the lyrical narration describes a wintery night in a far northern village, including the northern lights. This gentle bedtime story will send your kids off into a deep slumber. Dreamy. Ages 3 and up.
Kisimi Taimaippaktut Angirrarijarani / Only in My Hometown by Angnakuluk Friesen, illustrated by Ippiksaut Friesen
A young girl describes life in her Inuit hometown, Nunavut. She describes daily activities, as well as the coming of the northern lights in the dark nights. Readers will be able to feel the affection the narrator has for her home, and reflect on what makes their own hometowns special, too. The text is written in both English and Inuktitut. The Inuktitut text is written out in both syllabics and Roman characters. Ages 4 and up.
Hanukkah in Alaska by Barbara Brown, illustrated by Stacey Schuett
Find it: Amazon | Your Library
A Hanukkah book featuring the northern lights? Yes, please! Readers outside Alaska will be fascinated with some of the unique aspects of life in the northern most state, like having to watch out for moose in the backyard, or dealing with very short days. The moose is a constant presence throughout the story, even watching the family through the window as they light the menorah! On on Hanukkah night, the family bundles up and heads outside (moose still in the backyard!) to watch the showy aurora borealis, their own Alaskan "festival of lights." Ages 4 and up.
Under the Night Sky by Amy Lundebrek, illustrated by Anna Rich
Find it: Amazon | Your Library
One dark winter night a boy waits for his mother to arrive home from work. When she does, she tells him to get on his warm clothes, because they are headed outside to meet with the neighbors. This is a surprise, as the boy is used to his mother sticking to a regular routine. Outside, they watch the northern lights dance across the sky and share a touching moment of togetherness. Ages 4 and up.