Winter Reading: Part I

With the colder weather comes more opportunities to cozy up by the fire with some of our favourite seasonal books.

A Coyote Solstice Tale by Thomas King is hands down, our family’s favourite.   This is a hilarious story.  The trickster, Coyote is preparing to host his annual solstice dinner with friends when a girl dressed up as a reindeer knocks at the door to his woodland home.  She introduces the friends to the world of commercial holidays and leads them to the mall where “rough herds of humans rushed by. Their arms filled with brightly wrapped boxes, and murderous looks in their eyes”.  Thomas King’s brilliant poetry reminds us of the simple pleasures of time spent with friends and the beauty of the world in winter as Coyote tries to recall “if goodwill and peace could be purchased for credit or cash at the mall”.

No wait, The Quilt Maker’s Gift is the favourite!

I love this book! The watercolour illustrations are stunning and the story is all about the joy of giving.  This is not a Christmas book but it is a great way to talk about how getting everything we want does not make us happy.  Sharing what we have with others is how we achieve true happiness.  The King who has everything attempts to demand a handmade quilt from a wise woman who lives in the mountains.  Only when he has given away his last possession will she gift him a quilt.  The King finds true happiness in sharing his wealth with others and continues the woman’s tradition of giving to those in need.

Solstice is our main holiday celebration. Wendy Pfeffer’s The Shortest Day is wonderful in its simplicity.  It reviews the past 5000 years of solstice celebrations and traditions around the world.

At the end there is a more in depth explanation of  why the days are shorter and then longer with a bunch of fun activities to try on your own as well.

You’ll notice a trend in any of our book lists and that is that there are many of Elsa Beskow’s books on them. Her books are always full of children finding adventure and using their imaginations.   Ollie’s Ski Trip is about a 6-year-old boy who gets a pair of skis for his birthday.  He sets off into the forest and meets Jack Frost who takes him to King Winter’s Palace. It is full of old world charm and is such a magical story.  When my girls see frost on a window pane they always exclaim “Jack Frost was here!”.

Winter Solstice by Ellen Jackson is another wonderful book that explores the early solstice celebrations and traditions.  In this house there is no such thing as too many solstice stories.

What will we do without our trees to tap?  We move in 9 short days and I am already longing for the long winter nights spent outside tending the fire as we boil down the sap to make our delicious maple syrup.  This year we’ll have to make do with reading Sugar Snow and visiting a local sugar shack (or two) for our maple sugar fix.

This list doesn’t even put a dent in our winter reading library.  For some reason winter books out number our spring, summer and fall collections put together.  I’m one of those people who much prefer winter over summer.  There is still no snow here and I find that the girls and I are hungry for the pictures and stories of our favourite season and activities.  I’ll share more of our collection in another post.  Of course we are always looking to add more!  Here are some books on our wish list:

Islands by Anne Smythe

A Candle for Christmas by Jean E. Speare

The Winter Book by Rotraut Susanne Berner

Bella’s Tree by Janet Russell

For now we’ll have to search for them at the library but it is so lovely to have beautiful books of our own on our shelves…What are some of your favourite winter books?