The winter’s first – and in these parts possibly only – snowfall put me in mind of books in which winter features prominently. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ones that came to mind immediately were children’s stories. So here are seven snowy stories to surprise your children (nieces, nephews, grandchildren, your best friend’s horrible brat…) with. Perhaps for Christmas? 🙂
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
The first in the so-called Chronicles of Narnia, (although a prequel was later written), The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is quite simply unforgettable. The set up is simple: Four siblings are sent away from London during World War II to live with an old professor in the country. Exploring the professor’s house on a rainy day, the youngest, Lucy investigates a wardrobe full of fur coats – a wardrobe that has no back panel. She wanders into a winter landscape at night time and feels the falling snow on her face – and so discovers the magical land of Narnia, where “it’s always winter, but never Christmas”…
Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome
Like the title says: a winter holiday in the Lake District, as enjoyed by the Swallows and Amazons, Ransome’s enterprising heroes. Kids let loose on a frozen lake: ice-skating, sledging, building igloos, rescuing lost sheep and discovering ‘the Arctic’. What’s not to like? This is the fourth in the series about the Swallows and Amazons and introduces a new set of characters, the D’s, but perfectly readable as an independent book.
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
This is a picture book; so much so that there aren’t any words in it. That’s right: no text whatsoever. It’s the simple and – shall I say banal? – story of a snowman who comes to life. You make the plot up from the pictures as you go along. It’s a genius of a book, utterly enchanting, and not just for toddlers.
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Perhaps Jack London’s best known story about a family pet kidnapped and sold off to be a sled dog in the Yukon area during the gold fever, this animal story is rather grim in places and definitely not a soppy Christmas read. Excellently written nevertheless, and no kid will be hurt by learning a little about the gold rush or the unfairness of life…
The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen
The fairy tales of the 19th century Danish writer, Hans Christian Andersen don’t always end happily in the traditional sense (take for example The Little Mermaid, quite contrary to singing-dancing rubbish that Disney sells your children) but that’s no reason not to read them. The Snow Queen, one of his longest stories, is a heartwarming tale of friendship enduring in the face of incredible difficulties. And it even has a happy ending.
The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Much better known in her native United States than elsewhere in the English-speaking world, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote children’s stories based on her own childhood: her parents moved westward from Wisconsin to Dakota as settlers in the second half of the 19th century. The Long Winter is the sixth of the so called Little House on the Prairie series and describes the winter of 1880-81, one of the severest winters in the history of the United States.
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
Not one of my favourites, this one, but then it was written for children after I already have grown up. The first in a trilogy of fantasy adventure, marketed for some unfathomable reason in the United States as The Golden Compass, this book takes place in the Arctic regions among witches and ice-bears. Well-written and atmospheric. The trilogy itself goes under the title of His Dark Materials.
You might also like: ⇒ 8 Beautiful Snow Scenes from Literature on Mental Floss More book lists on Waterblogged: ⇒ Just One More Page ⇒ Nine Books to Read on a Greek Holiday ⇒ They that Go Down to the Sea in Ships ⇒ Five Books You Shouldn't Read ⇒ Books that Transport You ⇒ Five Short Novels to Read on an Aeroplane