But, baby, it's cold outside!

I know it doesn’t really seem like it since the weather has stayed so warm and sunny, but it’s now December! Winter is just around the corner! We humans turn on our heat, put extra blankets on our beds, and trade our short and sandals for coats and boots, but what do our animal friends do when the weather starts to turn cold? Find out in the great books I tracked down at the Library!

Animals in the Fall by Gail Saunders-Smith describes the preparations that some animals make to survive the winter’s bitter cold. The creatures are divided into three groups that make it easy to compare what they do: Animals That Travel, Animals That Change, and Animals That Work. Large photographs and simple sentences are great for reading out loud to babies and toddlers; the youngest readers-on-their-own will not find this book too challenging at all. They can practice using the glossary and table of contents, too!

Another good book for younger kids is Sleepy Bear by Lydia Dabcovich. This story’s easy to read sentences and beautiful drawings follow a bear into hibernation (hibernation means a really long nap—even longer than the one you might have taken after your Thanksgiving feast!) Snuggle up to your favorite grown up for a good chilly night read.

Toddlers and preschoolers will also like Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming. Bear notices a change in the air and knows it’s time to find a nice cave for her winter hibernation. But first she wants to tell her friend Snail that it’s time to get ready for the cold, too! Snail is thankful for the warning, and knows that Skunk should make final preparations, too. As each animal lets a friend know that winter’s on its way, we also find out how the different critter characters will pass the snowy season. Before you know it, you’ve read a good late fall tale and learned a little about how animals get ready for winter, too!

Imagine if you were riding in your big yellow school bus on your way to a field trip… when it suddenly turns into a BEAR! Preschoolers and more confident readers will like The Magic School Bus Sleeps for the Winter, a fun and fact-filled journey through winter as a black bear. The illustrations and asides will make you giggle, but QUIETLY! You don’t want to wake the sleeping bear and bear bus, do you?

Some animals migrate to escape the cold—that means that they take a trip from one place to another to wait out the snow and ice. Going Home: The Mystery of Animal Migration by Marianne Berkes travels by foot, fin, and wing to see where migrating animals go for the winter. The rhyming text, brief facts at the bottom of each page, and map showing the routes each animal takes will hold the interest of preschoolers and early elementary kids. There are even ideas at the end of the book about how you can extend the story on your own!

Elementary schools will love to hear or read about Shelley, a tortoise who decides to buck tradition and find out what the heck goes on while she usually sleeps through the winter in Ridiculous! by Michael Coleman. To Shelley, it makes perfect sense that she would be out and about in the chilly weather checking out the wintry life. Her parents and the other animals she runs into after she sneaks out of her cozy hibernation spot don’t agree, though. In fact, they think her curiosity is downright ridiculous! She finds out how they stay warm during the winter when they point out that they have skills and features that she does not. Will Shelley stay out to frolic in the snow, or will she find her way back to her sleeping family?

Have you ever looked up at migrating geese and wondered how they know which direction to fly? So did Roma Gans, the author of How Do Birds Find Their Way? Scientists don’t speak bird and so they can’t be totally sure of how our flying friends do it, but they have some pretty good ideas about what’s going on in those feathered heads! Independent readers will be fascinated by theories that include use of the sun, stars, and moon’s positions, the Earth’s magnetic fields, and “built-in ‘calendars’” to help guide birds’ journeys. The beautiful pictures of birds at work are delightful, too!

There are plenty of books about what hairy and feathered animals do to survive the winter. But they’re not the only ones who are scarce when it’s cold, are they? Have you ever noticed that bugs are absent during the winter, too? What do they do when the snow flies? Find out in Not a Buzz to Be Found: Insects in Winter by Linda Glaser. This book answered a lot of my questions about what ladybugs, dragonflies, ants, and other creepy crawlies do when the ice keeps me inside with a good book and a cup of cocoa. Some hang out underground, some hide in trees, and some are babies in eggs, waiting for spring’s warmth to wake them up! The perspective, or point of view, in this book’s illustrations are especially cool—older kids can see humans going about heir wintry business with no clue what sleeps snugly nearby or under their feet!

I think the many ways that animals survive winter are pretty cool! While hibernating or flying south might be good for bears and geese, though, I’m happy to be staying here in Kansas City this winter with my warm mittens, hot chocolate and great books from the Library to curl up with in a cozy chair. It might be unseasonably balmy outside now, but I’ll bet cooler temperatures are right around the corner! Keep an eye on the Keyword:Kids blog for more great reads to get you through the short days and cold nights. Until then, see you at the Library!

by Melissa Horak-Hern, Plaza Kid Corner Associate