I loved snow days as a kid. My brother and I would walk up and down the hill next to our house dozens of times, sliding down in our bright orange sleds into our neighbor’s yard. We’d come in shivering, clothes dripping, noses bright red, unable to feel our hands or feet and my mom would help us take off our wet things, warm us up and give us hot chocolate.
It’s hard being on the flip side of things, of being the parent now rather than the kid and hearing the words “snow day” on the radio. My son is 3 years old and can’t be out sledding by himself. I count on those 3 hours a day when he’s at preschool to get work done, then stay up late trying to pack in a full day’s work on limited time after he’s asleep. “Snow day” means “no work day” and that’s hard, especially when you have multiple snow days in a row.
That certainly doesn’t mean that snow days don’t come with their own brand of magic. We trudge through mountains of snow, making a game out of digging out our walkway and clearing off the car, then walking down the road and digging out some of our elderly neighbor’s and friend’s walkways. I’m trying to teach my son the value of helping people just to be kind. Neighbor’s come out and say hello, people we’ve never met before stop and chat in the street with their snow shovels. There’s a sense of community in both tragedy and snow days – different types, but so rarely do we all just stop our busy lives and say hello. We wade our way through the backyard, digging out tricycles and balls covered in sheets of ice, lamenting the boxed garden covered in snow and dreaming of the bounty it will provide in a few short (and warm) months. We build snowmen and make snowballs, snow angels and hide in our “secret fort” where the branches from a small tree are so laden with snow the branches have fully arched down to the ground, creating a magical, snowy hideaway.
Just like my mom did for me as a child, I peel off the wet layers from my son when we come inside, give him something warm to drink then it’s off to the couch where we read. We’re a little book obsessed in this house, but I’d rather my kid be surrounded by stacks of books than plopped in front of video games or TV shows. That got me thinking about some of my favorite books that we read. Many of them center around my love for knitting, and I’m pleased that some of them are favorites of my son as well.
Frequently I am asked about book suggestions for young children with knitting themes, or books with knitting in them. These are just a handful of favorites and some of the ones we read this morning after coming in from playing in the snow.
The Huey’s in The New Sweater by Oliver Jeffers
We are HUGE Oliver Jeffers fans in this house. We have every book he ever wrote or illustrated, one of them is almost always part of our bedtime reading stack and I’m constantly on the lookout for his next publication. His books are beautiful and this one is too, just way more minimal than his usual fare. I enjoy this story because it’s about someone wanting to break the norm. The Huey’s are a bunch of folk who look, act and think the same, until one decides he wants to knit himself a bright orange sweater. He shatters the mold, then others want sweaters, too. It’s a great book for a kid who feels like they don’t belong or wants to try something different from what their friends are doing.
© Oliver Jeffers
The Cloud Spinner by Michael Catchpool, Illustrations by Alison Jay
This book is simply beautiful. The illustrations transport you into a world where you wish you could book a ticket too. Lush colors, lots of sheep (knitters love sheep) and great character design, I love when my son grabs this one off the shelf. A story about a young man who spins cloth and scarves out of the clouds, a greedy king who wants them all for himself and the lesson of not taking more than you need, it’s a great addition to your library, even if you don’t have a little one in your life.
© Michael Catchpool & Alison Jay
Red Knit Cap Girl by Naoko Stoop
This book feels like an old-world fable. A story about a young girl in a fabulous knit cap, she longs to speak to the moon. With the help of her animal friends, they search for a way to make that dream a reality. Part of a series, I love the hand painted vibe of this book and it reminds me of my childhood, running around the woods behind my parents’ house. I like the idea that you can try the impossible, even if it seems silly to others.
© Naoko Stoop
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Jon Klassen
Jon Klassen is one of the best children’s book illustrators out there, hands down. We have every book he’s done the artwork for and they are not only beautiful, but fun and extraordinarily innovative. Being a knitter, this particular book is one of my all-time favorites. A story about a clever girl who finds a box of yarn that never runs out (reminds me of the Mary Poppins bag), a greedy prince steals it, only to find the magic of the yarn doesn’t work for him. The box finds its way back to the girl, and she continues to transform her community with her knitted creations. Touching on the idea that most of us knitters embrace – knitting for others can be just as much fun as knitting for yourself, and not coveting what is not yours, the story is good but the illustrations are GREAT. A fine gift for any knitter!
© Marc Barnett & Jon Klassen
Up and Down by Oliver Jeffers
Again, this Irish-born, Brooklyn-Based author and illustrator is a favorite in our house. While of all his books are wonderful, this is my husband’s favorite. A simple story about the friendship between a boy and his penguin, they find out that sometimes after you get what you want, it turns out that it wasn’t what you expected. Jeffers must have someone close to him (or maybe it IS him!) who knits, because in many of his books there is someone knitting.
© Oliver Jeffers
The Mitten by Alvin Tresselt, Illustrated by Yaroslava
This was one of my favorite books as a kid. There are probably dozens of versions of this classic Ukrainian tale, but I was always partial to the illustrations in this one. Filled with simple pen and ink drawings – some with color, some in black and white, I thought of it often growing up. One day I saw it in a little bookstore by the National Zoo and sat there reading it to my son. We bought it and brought it home, and he enjoys it as much as I do. A tale about sharing and there always being room for one more, a boy trudges through the forest in mittens his grandmother made him. Dropping one, animal after animal comes by, cramming into it for warmth. Eventually, the mitten bursts at the seams and everyone tumbles out. While Jan Brett does a beautiful version of the same story, this is still my favorite.
© Alvin Tresselt & Yaroslava
I hope this post brought you some inspiration on a cold, snowy day. Happy reading!