Given that wintry weather made a mess throughout the Pacific Northwest last week, our family reading steered toward the sort of stories that make you glad to be indoors by the fire!

The Bears On Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh and illustrated by Helen Sewell

This is our second time through this story in 2021 even though it’s an older book. One of our kids got it for Christmas and wanted it read aloud, and then demanded it as a family read-out-loud. A young boy is asked to go over the hill on an errand during late winter. “Do bears live on Hemlock Mountain?” is a question the looms large in the minds of the youngest kids as they journey through the snowy woods with Jonathan. The story takes a little while to get going, meandering through some backstory first, but once the boy is headed up the mountain with a “crunch, crunch, crunch” the story is hard to put down between chapters.

Too Many Mittens by Florence Slobodkin and illustrated by Louis Slobodkin

This was a book that I remember from grandmother’s shelves from when I was a kid. Twin boys have trouble keeping track of their red mittens, and the whole town starts helpfully dropping off any they find. But…surely even twins don’t have that many red mittens? I love the art in this book with most of the pictures being done in wintry colors and then the red mittens popping off the pages. This isn’t one that tends to get read a lot during the year, but in winter when “have you seen my other glove” is being asked on a daily basis, everyone, including us parents, find it striking a chord.

Cozy by Jan Brett

The only recent publication on the list! Honestly, a huge swath of Jan Brett’s bibliography fits the themes of winter and snow, and her latest definitely fits right in. Cozy is the story of a young musk ox whose coat is in high demand as a place to shelter from the bitter cold. As each “guest” arrives, Cozy goes over the ever expanding “house rules.” Beyond the illustrations which are filled with the beautiful –and funny – details you’d expect in a Jan Brett book, the house rules are what make this book so appealing to kids. If you’ve got more than one child in the house many of the rules will sound very familiar!

Brambly Hedge: Winter Story by Jill Barklem

Reading each of the four main Brambly Hedge stories to mark the turn of the seasons is one of our favorite family traditions, but every single one of us enjoy the Winter Story most of all. The magic of snow and the ingenuity of the Hedgerow mice meet in a delightfully magical tale. All kids dream of a massive snowfall and shining ice palaces. But despite enough snow to bury the world around them, the mice’s homes absolutely glow with warmth and peace and good food.