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Thematic Reading List: Winter

Written and Illustrated by Uri Shulevitz
Sunburst Books, 2004
32 pages

The story opens with a familiar bleakness, the kind that one often finds in winter, before the snow falls:



"The skies are gray.
The rooftops are gray.
The whole city is gray."

But, then, some hope:

"Then one snowflake."

The young "boy with dog," as he's called, keeps seeing flakes of snow dropping. "It's snowing!" he says. But the adults--like the grandfather with beard, the man with hat, and the woman with umbrella, doubt it. They said, "It's only one snowflake" and "It's nothing" and "It'll melt." The boy, however, doesn't lose hope. The narrator of the book reminds us:

"But snowflakes don't listen to radio,
snowflakes don't watch television.
All snowflakes know is snow, snow, snow."

And then, do the readers' delight, it does snow. In fact, it snows a ton:

"The rooftops are white.
The whole city is white.
'Snow,' said the boy."

Iguanas in the Snow and Other Winter Poems:
Iguanas en la nieve y otros poemas de invierno

Written by Franciso X. Alarcon
Illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez
Children's Book Press, 2001
32 pages

These bilingual poems, written by poet Franciso X. Alarcon, are filled with a strong love for family, friends, community, and, well, life in general. Each poem is set in San Francisco during the winter, and Alaracon's take on the city brings new life and fresh perspective to California:

"I'm so happy
this city is
named after

Saint Francis-
the patron saint
of all animals

here everybody
knows how to
spell my name"



Winter Eyes
Written and Illustrated by Douglas Florian
Greenwillow Books, 1999
48 pages

These poems look at winter from a variety of perspectives and emotions. These poems will remind you of everything you love about winter:





"Frozen lakes
Hot pancakes
Lots of snow
Hot cocoa
Skates and skis
Evergreen trees"

And, simultaneously, these poems will remind you of everything that you hate about winter:

"Frozen toes
Running nose
Sloppy slush
Holiday crush
15 below
Shoveling snow"

But, the main emotion here is celebrating winter, is remembering the good in winter. With poems that praise the "raw sienna and dark burnt umber hues of winter," and with poems that praise the winter songs, like the "song of hail, that pints and pangs like falling nails and the song of snow, a whispering as whiteness grows," it's hard not to love on winter just a ittle bit.




A Snowflake Fell: Poems About Winter
Compiled by Laura Whipple
Illustrated by Hatsuki Hori
Barefoot Books, 2003
40 pages

In this collection of winter poems, compiled and curated by Laura Whipple, we hear various poets' takes on winter. Some highlights include Marilyn Singer's lively poem, "Deer Mouse," which is from the perspective of a mouse, hurriedly scurrying about in the snow, searching for food:

"get    get get get    get
         out of the nest
        into the cold
get    get get get    get
         lots of food

Another highlight is Michael Spooner's lovely and meditative, "Winter Nights":

"Even I
           am not sure
what my heart's secret is,
                 but I know
         it has to do
                 with winter,
                 with the slow wheeling stars
         and the stillness of snow."


It's Snowing! It's Snowing!
Written by Jack Prelutsky
Illustrated by Jeanne Titherington
Greenwillow Books, 1984
48 pages

Prelutsky's poems in this collection showcase his signature playfulness. What I love most about these poems are the frequent and fun metaphors and similes that cover each poem like freshly fallen snow:




--"I'm the living, breath model of a walking clothing shop."
--"My legs feel like they're swarming with a million tiny ants."
--"I have icicles inside me and my lips are turning blue."
--"I am colder than the contents of a million ice cream cones."
--"Filmy sheets of icy lace."
--"Snow that's whiter than paper, and whiter than milk, and whiter than polar bear fur."



Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Written by Robert Frost
Illustrated by Susan Jeffers
E.P. Dutton, 1978
32 pages


Susan Jeffer's drawings, based off of Rober Frost's "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening," are so lovely and transporting, that you'll feel like you're on a jaunt in the snowy woods yourself. The famous poem, is brought to new life with her drawings. Each line is given a page, is given space to breathe, and this slow pacing and rhythm creates a lulling quiet. Each line sounds like a whispered secret, buried deep beneath the snow: "Whose woods are these I think I know." Her decision to tell the poem, like a story, almost like a prose poem, makes the reader slow down, and really pay attention to each line, each word that makes up this well-loved winter poem.


Allie Leach is the Poetry Center's Education Programs Assistant and co-editor of the Wordplay blog.

Created on: 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013




Created on: 
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
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