Winter & Snow Picture Books

This morning my daughter called me to the window because she discovered a white peak that had formed over the night on our little bird feeder. It was a charming sight! The fresh powdery snow sat like a small cap on the feeder. As I looked around at the snow trimming the rails of our porch, the bare trees, and the roofs of the houses behind our home, the last line of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “Winter-Time” came to mind: 

“And tree, and house, and hill and lake / Are frosted like a wedding-cake.”


My children are especially excitable this winter because we lived in Southern Texas for three years where we had one dusting of snow (emphasis on the dusting). They will finally be able to experience the joys of sledding down a hill and building a snowman taller than themselves.

Snow doesn’t need an introduction but I’ve been reading my children books about snow since they were toddlers and it has only increased their anticipation for their first big Midwest snowfall.

We have read MANY winter books over the years, but this is a list of the ones we love most. I hope these delightful books make their way into your library bag or on your bookshelf and that you enjoy them as much as we do!

Winter Booklist:


The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader


Bunny Slopes by Claudia Rueda


Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton


The Mitten by Jan Brett


Owl Moon by Jane Yolen


Sleep Tight Farm by Eugenie Doyle


The Snow Globe Family by Jane O’Connor


The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, illustrated by Susan Jeffers


The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino


Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming


White Snow, Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt


Winter Days in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder


Now it’s your turn! What are your family’s favorite picture books about wintertime? Please share in the comments below.

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Best Picture Books for Toddlers

My eldest daughter Lucy loved pulling books from the little shelf in our apartment living room as a toddler. She would sit with them tucked between her chubby knees and turn the pages continually.

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Circa 2015

The books began to tear from her daily routine. My first instinct was to put them high where she could not reach them so they could be preserved for her future siblings.

It took me a few years–and two more children–to realize that often the best picture books are the ones that end up torn, taped, re-taped, and broken at the binding from being opened so many times. They are the ones that end up in my lap for the tenth day in a row with the words, “Mama, book?”

So many memories shared between the pages of our duct-taped binding of Blueberries for Sal.

Here is a list of the books that have been beloved by my toddler-aged children:


Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes by Beatrix Potter


Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman


Blue on Blue by Dianne White, illustrated by Beth Krommes


Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey


Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle


Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina


Cecily Parsley’s Nursery Rhymes by Beatrix Potter


Corduroy by Don Freeman


Diggers Go by Steve Light


Freight Train by Donald Crews


The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone


Going to Sleep on the Farm by Wendy Cheyette Lewison


Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman


Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann


Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown


Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson


Have You Seen My Duckling? by Nancy Tafuri


The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson


I am a Bunny by Richard Scarry


If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff


Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? by Nancy Carlstrom


The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper


Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans


Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey


Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton


Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss


My First Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne (poetry)


My Very First Mother Goose by Iona Opie


The Napping House by Audrey & Don Wood


1 is One by Tasha Tudor


Pat the Bunny (Touch and Feel Book) by Dorothy Kunhardt


Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow


A Picnic with Monet by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober, and others in the “Mini Masters” series


Poems to Read to the Very Young by Josette Frank, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin


Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire


Richard Scarry’s Best Storybook Ever by Richard Scarry


A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead


The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats


The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter


Ten Red Apples by Pat Hutchins


The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr


The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle


The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle


Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats


Who Made This Cake? by Chihiro Nakagawa



Which picture books does your toddler pull off the shelf again and again? Please share in the comments below.



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New Year, New Plans

Hoping you had a merry Christmas and are having a great start to the New Year! I have been looking forward to beginning a new year with Beloved Bookshelf as I enjoy the fresh start that a new calendar year provides.

These are my plans and priorities for 2020:

. . . finding editions of classics like Mother Goose, Grimm Brothers, Hans Christian Andersen, and Aesop’s Fables to recommend. Call it my nursery essentials list, if you will. Many booklists recommend these classics but do not always suggest which editions. I want to provide you with some great suggestions. All editions must have top-notch prose (when dealing with translations and adaptations) as well as beautiful illustrations.


. . . recommending more chapter books. My children are six and under, so most of my time has been spent searching for picture books and nursery classics. My eldest daughter and I are now beginning to read chapters books together! I am also planning on reading a handful on my own this year. If your children are older and you need chapter book recommendations now, please check out this page where I list my trusted resources for finding book recommendations.

. . . book cover photographs above all of my book titles. Photographs are so helpful and this is my top priority in the coming months.

. . . and the project I am most excited to announce: grade-specific literature lists for homeschool and the classroom, beginning with preschool, kindergarten, and first grade!

Please send me an email if there is anything you would like to see on Beloved Bookshelf this year. I am grateful to several readers who informed me that they prefer age or grade-specific booklists rather than master lists. While I do think most of the books on my lists can be read at various ages, I do understand the convenience of organizing booklists this way. For example, “Put Me in the Zoo” is a splendid early reader, but my two-year-old toddler can’t get enough of it. Just something to keep in mind even after I reconfigure the booklists.

Finally, I want to make sure you don’t miss an article I added to my resources page a couple of months ago titled “Awakening the Moral Imagination” by Dr. Vigen Guroian. It is the best article I have read on the subject of why children should read fairy tales. I encourage you to read it! Dr. Guroian also wrote a book on this subject which I hope to read and review sometime on the blog titled Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child’s Moral Imagination. And . . . if you are looking for fairy tales to read with your child, here’s my great big list of illustrated fairy tales.


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Simple & Meaningful Advent Traditions

Today I want to share with you the ways we observe Advent with our small children. I have also added suggestions for how these traditions can be adapted if finding, preparing, or affording materials is burdensome.

Simple & Meaningful Advent Traditions

Playing with the Manger Scene

Playing with the figurines of the manger scene is especially impactful for young children because it helps them understand who are all of the persons involved in the Christmas story. I will catch my children acting out the Christmas story quietly with the figurines, especially after we read the Nativity story in their Christmas books. I recommend acquiring a set that is durable for little hands, preferably made of wood or plastic. We put our set away during the year and take it out only during Advent and Christmastide so it is extra special.

Here are a few sets we own or my children have played with that I recommend, at different price points: Wooden Nativity Scene from WoodenYaSay on Etsy (pictured below, handmade, buttery soft); Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Christmas Nativity Set (inexpensive option); Ostheimer Nativity Set (handmade from Germany, heirloom quality)




Filling the Manger with Straw

This is my favorite tradition because I think it brings the spirit of Christmas into our home. Children are encouraged to perform acts of kindness, service, and generosity. For every good act they place a piece of yarn in the manger, in order to give Jesus a nice, soft place to lay his head on Christmas. Late on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, the infant Jesus is placed in the manger.

For this tradition, you will need a wooden manger or a small box (like a cardboard shoe box), yellow yarn cut into 4 inch pieces, and a large Jesus figurine. You could also make an infant Christ by wrapping a baby doll in a white cloth or use straw purchased from the craft store. Look around your home and see what you can use! My manger is made of a small plastic box covered in batting fabric.



Christmas Books

Many of the books we read during Advent center on the Nativity or have characters that exhibit generosity. The books seem to work their magic all Advent long as we prepare our hearts for Christmas morning! I put our Christmas-themed books in a basket in the living room and adorn the basket with a festive bow.

I request the ones we don’t own from the library a week before Advent begins. Here is my booklist of our most beloved Christmas stories. 

I also recommend this wonderfully curated booklist from the blog Shower of Roses: Feasts & Seasons :: Advent & Christmas Collection.




Advent Wreath

The Advent wreath is a lovely way to incorporate daily prayer into Advent and it reminds us how Christ’s coming is light entering the darkness. My children love the pageantry of lighting the candles every evening. You can learn more about the rich history and symbolism of the Advent wreath here

Traditionally, the Advent wreath has three violet candles and one pink candle, but four white candles can be used too. Many families keep their wreath in the middle of their dining table. A devotional booklet can also be used with daily scripture and prayer.


Another option is making a paper craft wreath. I especially like this printable wreath from the blog Look to Him and Be Radiant, because you can hide the paper flames and lift them up on the appropriate week.


Advent Calendar

Advent calendars are a great way to countdown the days until Christmas and can be found at most stores. Look for one that shares a piece of the Nativity story each day. We don’t personally own this, but I know my children would go nuts over this fabric Nativity calendar with pockets.



Jesse Tree

This is the most involved of the traditions on my list, but it incorporates daily scripture into our Advent and connects Jesus’s birth to all of salvation history.

You will need a small tabletop tree, Jesse Tree ornaments, and a family bible and/or children’s picture bible. Each ornament has a symbol which corresponds with a biblical moment in salvation history. My ornaments are made of paper and string using this tutorial from Catholic All Year. You can also purchase handmade Jesse Tree ornament sets on Etsy

My children look forward to putting the ornaments on the tree every day. Because my children are younger, we will often read and look at the daily scripture in their picture bible. My favorite picture bible for little ones (ages 3-6) is: Maite Roche’s The Beautiful Story of the Bible.



Celebrating Feast Days

We also celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas on December 6th and the feast of St. Lucy on December 13th with special prayers, food, and activities.

For the feast of St. Nicholas, our children sleep in their Christmas pajamas and we fill their stockings with a candy cane, orange, chocolate coins, and a small gift. We spend the day learning about the great life of Saint Nicholas and how we can imitate his holiness and generosity.

Free coloring pages, activities, crafts, and recipes can be found at:



On the feast of St. Lucy, we eat lussekatter (Swedish saffron buns) or a wreath-shaped pastry for breakfast and Swedish meatballs for dinner. My eldest daughter dresses up like St. Lucy and her younger sisters dress as her attendants. We sing the “Santa Lucia” song and read a book about the life and martyrdom of St. Lucy called Lucia: Saint of Light by Katherine Bolger Hyde.



O come, O come Emmanuel!


Please leave me a comment below sharing your family’s favorite Advent tradition.


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