Winter is a time for snuggling up together on the couch with a good book. Family read aloud time should happen all year but our family does a lot more of it during the winter months. We spend one hygge evening each week listening to an audio book while we each draw in our sketch pads or color in adult coloring books. The library, Audible, Sparkle Stories and Scribd are great places to find quality audio books and stories for the whole family.
There is lots of research about how important Family Read Aloud time is for teens (here is a great podcast about this). Reading aloud books with teens allows everyone to slow down and for the teens to experience difficult topics without leaving the comfort of their home. This can then lead to rich family discussions about the challenges brought up in the stories.
Here are some of our favorite stories to read aloud during the winter time. We also have read aloud suggestions for older children and have included some adult selections about the topic of hygge. Happy Reading!
This book does a beautiful job demonstrating the theme of kindness for young children (ages 3 and up). The Hedgehog’s nest blows away in a storm and he bundles up to go to Badgers house. Along the way he meets friends who are very cold and one by one gives them pieces of his own warm clothing. This book looks like it is no longer in print but see if your local library has it or find a used copy. It is a sweet story of friendship and kindness!
From the Publisher: “When a fierce windstorm blows away Little Hedgehog’s nest, he puts on his winter clothes and sets off for Badger’s warm house. On his way, Hedgehog meets his friends, all shivering in the wind and snow. One by one, Hedgehog gives away his cozy mittens, hat, and scarf. But will Little Hedgehog make it through the storm to safety without his warm clothes? A delightful story about sharing with others, with soft flocking wherever Little Hedgehog’s mittens, hat and scarf appear.”
This is our ABSOLUTE favorite winter book. In this beautiful story, a little girl finally gets her chance to go owling with her father. This book is about patience, adventure and quality time together. I would recommend this book for ages 3 and up.
From the publisher: “Distinguished author Jane Yolen has created a gentle, poetic story that lovingly depicts the special companionship of a young child and her father as well as humankind’s close relationship to the natural world. Wonderfully complemented by John Schoenherr’s soft, exquisite watercolor illustrations, this is a verbal and visual treasure, perfect for reading around and sharing at bedtime.”
This beautiful book of photographs might just inspire a kindness project for the animals near your home. I would recommend this book for children 3 and up.
From the publisher: “Forest animals, awakened by the birds’ warning that there is a stranger in the woods, set out to discover if there is danger and find, instead, a wonderful surprise.”
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett is the story of a young girl named Annabelle and her magical box of yarn. This story starts with dull, mono chrome illustrations and a melancholy community. As Annabelle knits sweaters for the people and critters in her town, the colors start to become more vivid and the mood becomes more positive. When a duke tries to steal the magical box of yarn, a wonderous thing happens. This book is about joy, kindness and the spirit of giving.
From the publisher: “From bestselling and award-winning author Mac Barnett and illustrator Jon Klassen comes Extra Yarn, a Caldecott Honor Book, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner, and a New York Times bestseller.
A young girl and her box of magical yarn transform a community in this stunning picture book. With spare, gently humorous illustrations and a palette that moves from black-and-white to a range of color, this modern fairy tale has the feel of a new classic.”
This classic book tells the tale of Peter and all of his adventures during a snow day. This is one of our family favorites and it is a great hygge read to inspire snow fun while snuggling on the couch. This is a book for all ages.
From the publisher: “No book has captured the magic and sense of possibility of the first snowfall better than The Snowy Day. Universal in its appeal, the story has become a favorite of millions, as it reveals a child’s wonder at a new world, and the hope of capturing and keeping that wonder forever. The adventures of a little boy in the city on a very snowy day.”
This is a sweet story about the power of a kind deed and how some good deeds are better done anonymously. I would recommend this book to children ages 3 and up.
From the publisher: “One snowy day an elderly woman, Sarah, watches children gathering at the bus stop. While they never seem to notice her, she notices them, especially one little boy who has no mittens. That night, Sarah knits the boy a pair of cozy mittens and places them on the blue spruce tree for him to discover. It soon becomes a game, with the children looking for new mittens on the mysterious tree every morning, and Sarah joyfully knitting new ones each night. With its touching message and delightful illustrations, adults and children will enjoy this intergenerational tale for years to come.”
This is a great non-fiction book to give children a glimpse of who is sleeping and moving underneath that layer of winter snow. This book would be great for children ages 3 and up.
From the publisher: “Over the snow, the world is hushed and white. But under the snow lies a secret world of squirrels and snow hares, bears and bullfrogs, and many other animals making their winter home under the snow. This beloved nonfiction picture book exploring the subnivean zone reveals the tunnels and caves formed beneath the snow but over the ground, where many kinds of animals live through the winter, safe and warm, awake and busy, but hidden beneath the snow.”
This sweet book would be nice for children 4 and up. Jojo learns all about friendship from her magical snowman, Puddles. This is a Kindle Unlimited book and can be read for free with a subscription.
From the publisher: “Jojo looks around and everyone seems to have friends but her. She feels sad and lonely. Then, Jojo meets Puddles, the snowman made with magic friendship snow. Jojo will reassure children that friendship can be learned. Discover how Jojo makes a forever friend by reading this book.”
This is such a sweet story and another family favorite. It is a holiday story but we feel it can be read anytime. I would recommend this story for ages 3 and up.
From the publisher: “Charles wants to find a wish tree. His brother and sister don’t believe there is such a thing, but his trusty companion Boggan is ready to join Charles on a journey to find out. And along the way, they discover that wishes can come true in the most unexpected ways.
The poetic text and heartwarming illustrations evoke the true essence of the holiday season and will inspire wishers everywhere. This gem of a book deserves center stage year round.”
I know my kids are hoping for Big Snow right now and this is one of their favorite books. Johnathan Bean is a wonderful author/illustrator and the pictures in this book are wonderful. I’d recommend this book for all ages.
From the publisher: “While “helping” his mother with holiday housecleaning, a boy keeps a watchful eye on the progress of a winter storm. He’s hoping for a big snow. A really big snow. Inside, he is underfoot, turning sheet-changing and tub-scrubbing into imaginary whiteouts. Outside, flakes are flying. But over the course of a long day (for Mom) the clouds seem slow on delivering a serious snowfall. Then comes a dreamy naptime adventure, marking just the beginning of high hopes coming true in this irresistible seasonal story.”
Our Favorite Read Aloud Books for Older Kids
We have listened to each of these stories on audio and we ALL LOVED them. The narrators are all great if you listen to them on audio book. My children are now 9 and 12 but many of these stories can be enjoyed as a family with younger and older children. We have a subscription to both Audible and Scribd but also use our local library. I only included stories that I loved as much (or more) than my children. I find a good story is loved by people of all ages. Please share your favorite read aloud books below.
- Green Ember Series (ages 9 and up)-This series is jam-packed with adventure! It can be a bit dark at times but my sensitive 9-year-old is just fine with it. She even named her pet bunny after one of the lead characters.
- The Land of Stories Series (ages 8 and up)-This series of stories was an ABSOLUTE family favorite. We devoured these stories and loved the way the fairytale world and our world collided. These creative stories are read by the author and so much fun to listen to aloud.
- The Penderwick Series (ages 8 and up)-This is my daughter (and maybe my) favorite series of all time. She has listened to these books DOZENS of times. My son also enjoyed them and has listened to them more than once. The four main characters are girls but there are lots of male characters to even out the stories. They are about family, friendship and the trials and joys of growing up.
- The Tuesdays at the Castle Series (ages 8 and up)-This fantasy series is about a royal family who lives in a magical castle and the many challenges they face. This book is filled with adventure, magic and friendship and each book will leave you running to the next to see what happens. We truly loved this series and hope that there will be a few more in the series.
- The How to Train Your Dragon Series (ages 8 and up)–This series is very different from the movie (we like the books better) and read by the amazing David Tennant. My son and I devoured this series but it was too much for my daughter who was 7 and 8 at the time.
- The Saturday’s Series (ages 6 and up)-This series is about a single father raising his four children. The first book starts out in NYC and the kids pool their money together so that they can take turns spending a Saturday doing what they would like to do. This is such a fun series, set in simpler times with LOVABLE characters. It is sure to be a family favorite.
- Snicker of Magic and The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd (ages 8 and up)–Natilie Lloyds book are pure magic. She is a fantastic story-teller and both books contain lovable characters, beautiful imagery and a twist that you won’t see coming. We all LOVED these two books in our house.
- Fablehaven (ages 10 and up, was too scary for my 9-year-old)–This is an imaginative series that brings a brother and sister duo to their grandparents nature preserve for mythical creatures. This series was way too scary for my sensitive 9 year old but my 12-year-old LOVED it.
- The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates Series (ages 6 and up)-This book series is so much fun! The main character is the young daughter of the admiral and her dream is to sail the seas as a PIRATE. Her companion is a magical gargoyle and their adventures will keep you laughing and saying, “ARGH”. This is such a fun series.
- Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Series by Chris Grabenstein (ages 8 and up)–If you like to read, then you will love this series. It is filled with puzzles, references to great children’s literature and adventure. These books are NOTHING like the movie, in fact we did not like the movie at all. If you are looking for a fun literary adventure as a family, we recommend these books.
- The Peter Nimble Series by Jonathan Auxier (ages 9 and up)–The Peter Nimble books will keep you guessing until the end. Jonathan Auxier is a gifted story-teller and his characters are like no others. These stories are filled with humor, adventure and will leave you on the edge of your couch.
Hygge Books for Adults
I have read all of the books below except for the bottom one (that is on my Read Next List) . I have found that many of the books contain similar messages and you really only need to read one book (or do some internet research) to gain a better understanding of what hygge is all about.
This beautiful little book is one that I have given away as gifts many times. It has beautiful photographs to SHOW you what a hygge lifestyle is all about and how to implement it into your life. This book is pretty enough to leave out in your home to inspire others to hygge.
If you want some stats and graphs about how important hygge is, then this is the book for you. This book not only explains the concept of hygge, it also gives you statistics that will convince you that hygge is something that should be incorporated in your life.
From the publisher:“Embrace Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) and become happier with this definitive guide to the Danish philosophy of comfort, togetherness, and well-being. From picking the right lighting to organizing a Hygge get-together to dressing hygge, Wiking shows you how to experience more joy and contentment the Danish way.”
I own this book and refer to it often. It is simple and so easy to read and will give you plenty of ideas of how to incorporate hygge into your daily life.
From the publisher: “This was the first book ever written about hygge in the world. A classic treasure that feels like an old book from times forgotten, with cream coloured pages and hand drawn illustrations. Not only is this book about Hygge, it ‘feels’ Hygge. This is the original and first published book about Hygge that started it all…”
This is the book on my list to read this year. It is a memoir from a journalist who moved to Denmark for a year. She spent that year investigating the secrets to why the Danish are such a happy group. I am looking forward to reading this one!