Nothing thaws the winter chill like cozying up to a good book! Spending quality time with picture books helps young children build language, literacy, and social skills and provides a great opportunity for grownups and kids to learn together. Here at N-YHS, we have an extensive collection of books in our Barbara K. Lipman Children’s History Library that visitors are always free to browse. In addition, we host story time programs every week that are free with Museum Admission.
There are so many reasons to celebrate during winter and many cultures around the world take this time when the days are short and the air is cold to celebrate light, new beginnings, and community. Check out some of our favorite winter reads below!
The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper, illustrated by Carson Ellis
In this striking and heartwarming new picture book, Susan Cooper’s classic poem meets Carson Ellis’ dreamy illustrations to capture the magic of the winter solstice, the traditions that unite people across generations, and the peaceful hope of new beginnings. Perfect for young readers and grownups alike.
What do you do when a winter celebration needs a candle, but yours are all gone? In this touching story of generosity, a squat, lumpy candle travels throughout a small apartment building as each family uses its light to usher in a variety of winter holidays. A beautiful tale in which kindness and warmth glow brightly in a close-knit, diverse community.
Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell
Explore this exciting, wordless picture book that charts the journey of two lost creatures—-an intrepid little girl and a cuddly wolf pup—as they find their way home in a wintry storm. A heartfelt story to share one-on-one as you pore over the rich and engaging illustrations.
Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Christian Robinson
Winter is coming in this charming picture book that follows playful little penguins prepare for a cold, snowy day. Robinson’s simple, bold illustrations bring this delightful story to life for even the littlest readers.
Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin
Celebrate Lunar New Year with Jie-Jie and her family as they prepare to usher in a new season and sweep away the year behind them. Keep your eyes peeled for a fold-out dragon in this vibrant and joyful tale of one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world.
Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis, illustrated by Daniel Minter
What better way to bring a holiday to life than through storytelling? Explore the origins and principles of Kwanzaa as well as West African textiles and weaving in this original folktale that’s meant to be read aloud with the whole family.
Originally read at the 2005 White House tree-lighting ceremony, Angelou’s stirring poem is presented alongside joyful winter scenes in a picture book intended for young readers, but whose message and original artwork will appeal to all ages. Angelou celebrates community, hope, unity, and, most importantly, peace.
“Even in bad times, people can be good.” On the seventh day of Hanukkah in 1938, which also happens to be Christmas Eve, a young refugee boy named Oskar arrives in New York City and walks the length of Manhattan in search of a new home. Each person he meets offers Oskar a small act of kindness in this tale that celebrates resilience, hope, and good will.
Lights for Gita by Rachna Gilmore, illustrated by Alice Priestley
Diwali may have come and gone this year already, but it’s never too late to explore this festival of light through Gita’s story of longing and belonging, hope and homesickness, family and community.
For some, the New Year may begin on January 1. But in her lively poetry collection, Marilyn Singer details New Years celebrations that occur throughout the year, all over the world. Get to the heart of these holidays, festivals, and celebrations as folks ring in the new and say goodbye to the old in their own special ways.
Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko
Delight in this family’s joyful “mix of traditions” as Sadie celebrates the winter holidays with her Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama. See how different songs, foods, and customs come together for one family’s special celebrations.
By Olivia Sweet