Winter Storytime Recap: What to Do on Not-so Snowy Days?

A Pre-k storytime kid marvels at her creation: a snow globe filled with sparkly glitter and a repurposed Duplo brick!


Winter should be a wonder. There are so many stories about snow, snowmen, snowballs, sledding, skiing, skating…ice fishing, anyone? But with another mostly mild season here (aw, man!) I found it tough to keep returning to this theme exclusively. So what more could I bring to these winter sessions to keep storytime fresh and relevant for cooped-up kiddos (and librarians)? 

In my planning, I created storytimes around themes that went beyond the fluffy white stuff. Starting with: home, hearth, and comfort - this is a great time to share books that celebrate small domestic moments, like making meals together. It’s also a good time to slow down with stories about sleep and dreaming, and soft lullabies to contrast with boisterous storytime jams. It’s a time of many celebrations of renewal and rebirth from all around the world - we dove into Lunar New Year and explored traditions that were new to the group. We also celebrated Black American writers, illustrators, and scientists during Black History Month and awesome women like Firefighter Maggie, who visited during Women’s History Month. To wrap it up, we did what many do at year’s end: looked back! Later in this post I’ll talk about my favorite storytime which featured the winner of the Caldecott Medal and Caldecott Honorees from 2023. 

Winter can be a long slog, but with any luck, storytime can be a place to escape those doldrums and reconnect with one another over simple pleasures. As we look to spring (finally!), here is a recap of what we liked, what we loved, and what helped us beat those winter blues. 

The Hits! Favorite Books, Songs, and Activities:

  1. Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant

Okay, to be fair, we did get a little snow though! And for the occasion, Little Penguins illustrated by the amazing Christian Robinson was perfect. Kids connected their own snowy day experiences as we watched a family of penguins enjoying a day spent playing in the Antarctic. Afterwards, we made our own snow globes. I’m not a fan of using glitter in crafts (to learn more about the trouble with glitter, check out: Glitter Everywhere by Chris Barton), but if you are trying to find a way to trap your existing cache of it, this is a great guide from PBS Kids, using just a jar, glycerin, water and some of the sparkly stuff!

A pre-k storytime kid marvels at her creation: a snow globe filled with sparkly glitter and a repurposed Duplo brick!

  1. Dad Bakes by Katie Yamasaki

Both parents and kids enjoyed this simple and tender story of a father making time to bake with his daughter while coming and going from his busy job. We shared our favorite things to make at home together - bread, fruit salad, and cookies! Naturally, we had to play with dough after. This playdough recipe from Little Eats and Things is a winner - simple enough for kids to do without much help: no bake, no cream of tartar, and safe to eat (but only if you are partial to a mouth full of salt).

  1. There Was a Party for Langston by Jason Reynolds

I found a great book to celebrate Black History at a pre-k level in this award-winning new book. It depicts the true story of a celebration where Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, and more gathered at the Library to celebrate the work of Langston Hughes. The use of language is pure fun - check it out by listening to it read aloud, by the author! We talked about what a “blowout” was - the best party you can imagine! After, we read Harlem and acted out the rhyming words in the poem, coming up with motions for Sun, Run, Meat, Sweet and…EXPLODE! to bring the poem to life as we recited it as a group.

  1. My Nose, Your Nose by Melanie Walsh

Don’t forget about the baby books! My Nose, Your Nose has big, bold illustrations of kids with different skin tones, features, and hair textures - all are beautiful, unique and easy to recognize on our own bodies! We enjoyed this one at baby & toddler time, as it provided many chances for caregivers to interact with pats, taps, kisses, and cuddles. 

Something to Try at Home: DIY Caldecott Winners

Winter is award season in library land, with so many great books (including picture books!) to highlight. The Randolf Caldecott medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. I wanted to share the past year’s winner and honoree titles all in a single storytime - a picture book bonanza! After trying it for the first time this year, I plan to make this storytime an annual tradition, to celebrate the winners as well as the artists in all of us. Here are the books we read:

  • Big by Vashti Harrison: A book with a big heart, about self-acceptance in the face of hurtful words. This book cleaned up in 2023, winning the Caldecott Medal, a Coretta Scott King Honor, and a spot on the National Book Award finalist list. Kids marveled at the pull-out pages, but were also sensitive to the themes, noting when characters felt misunderstood, sad, and ultimately, triumphant. For this story, we built on images of dancers and celebrated our strong bodies, singing This is Such a Simple Exercise and Walking, Walking, performed here by the librarians behind Storytime Blog JBrary. 
  • In Every Life by Marla Frazee: Sometimes, you just know a book is going to be a winner at year's end. In Every Life was one such example, with simple yet beautiful rainbow-toned spreads that stay with the reader long after they place it back on the shelf. We took our time oohing and ahhing and shouting out our favorite colors when we saw them, before taking out our colorful scarves to play with.
  • The Truth About Dragons by Julie Leung: Technically, I read this one at our Lunar New Year celebration, but it was a Caldecott Honor book as well as a winner of the Asian Pacific American Award for Literature. We swooned for these beautifully detailed depictions of dragons and a story that in contrasting the European legends with those of Asia, celebrates the biracial narrator's claim to both heritages. Of course, we had to let out a few ROARS of appreciation, with Dragon Dragon, found here on Laptime Songs.

Sylvia's Award Winning Picture Book "The Cat and the Flower": a folded paper book with a cat's face and hearts drawn on the cover.

For our activity, we had fun designing picture books of our own using a simple template. Kids designed their own stories, told over four panels. Sometimes the story was a collaboration between caregiver and child, as parents prompted narrative development with simple questions like “where is the giraffe going?” and “what did the cat see out her window?”. Creativity was in no short supply, and the books came out beautifully. In fact, they were of award-winning quality! We affixed Caldecott medals that I had printed and cut to our covers to honor their achievements.

Here is the simple template I developed from this storytime, and the medals to boot! Have fun, and draw on!