Books for Winter by Asian Authors and Illustrators
Updated: Apr 30
Although winter officially starts on December 21st this year, it already feels like it has arrived here (brrr)! With the winter season upon us, I enjoy reading books about winter or set during this time of year with my daughter. These books not only teach us about the season but also get us excited for two of our favorite holidays - Christmas and Lunar New Year! Please note that this list will focus on books about winter, and I will be creating a separate book list for Lunar New Year as there are so many wonderful options out there. Thank you for joining us on our winter reading adventure!
Jump to Book:
A Big Bed for Little Snow
Author/Illustrator: Grace Lin (@PacyLin)
Mommy makes a big, feather-stuffed bed for Little Snow to sleep on during the winter. She reminds him that it's for sleeping, not jumping, but Little Snow can't help himself. As he jumps on the bed, the feathers that fall out become snow falling on the earth below!
Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter
Author/Illustrator: Kenard Pak (@KenardPak)
Two children enjoy the last of the autumn leaves, watch birds fly south, and walk home as the days get shorter. They wake up to snow and icicles – winter is here!
Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring
Author/Illustrator: Kenard Pak (@KenardPak)
A boy and his dog walk home on a cold winter night, but as dawn breaks, things begin to thaw. Little by little, the snow melts away to reveal lush green grass and the birds have returned from their migration – hello, spring!
In The Snow
Author/Illustrator: Huy Voun Lee (@HuyVounLee)
A mother and son go on a snowy adventure. The mother uses the snow and a tree branch to teach her son 10 new Chinese characters. I love how the characters in this book build and connect, making them easier to remember. For example, the character for snow is made from the combination of “rain” over “hand”, because snow is like rain you can hold in your hand!
Ming’s Christmas Wishes
Author: Susan L. Gong
Illustrator: Masahiro Tateishi
Ming is the daughter of Chinese immigrants in 1930s California. She struggles to find her identity when she faces rejection at school for being Chinese and scolding at home for wanting American things, like a Christmas tree. Ming’s challenge is finding where she belongs when she is caught between two cultures. Her father takes her to see an old friend and visit a sequoia forest, where she learns more about her family’s history. In the end, Ming doesn’t get an American Christmas tree, but she gets something that embodies her family’s sources of strength – family, Chinese traditions, and nature.
The story is engaging and enhanced by illustrations that bring out the characters’ emotions and the beauty of nature. Ming is based on the author’s husband’s aunt and Pop is based on her husband’s grandfather. Many things in the story come from that family’s history.
Tracks in the Snow
Author/Illustrator: Wong Herbert Yee
A little girl follows tracks outside her window after a fresh snowfall, only to realize that the tracks in the snow are her own from the day before―and that they lead her home. (Description from Amazon)
Tree of Cranes
Author/Illustrator: Allen Say
A young boy in Japan comes home after playing outside to find his mother acting strangely. She’s folding paper cranes and digs up his special tree from the garden. Finally, she tells him that she was born in California, and there they celebrate Christmas, a day of love and peace, by decorating trees and giving and receiving gifts. Together they light the Christmas tree and admire its beauty.
This story is based on the author’s first Christmas in Japan and is both beautifully written and illustrated. The watercolor illustrations are stunningly detailed and depict a traditional Japanese home. The mother seems to have an underlying sadness and wish for peace, which makes me think the story may take place around the time of World War II (Allen Say was born in 1937).
Words to Make a Friend:
A Story in Japanese and English
Author: Donna Jo Napoli
Illustrator: Naoko Stoop (@NaokoStoop)
When a young Japanese girl moves into her new house, she is happy to see a girl her age playing in the snow just outside her window. The only problem is the Japanese girl doesn't speak English and the American girl doesn't speak Japanese.
How will these two girls have any fun at all? As it turns out, it's not that hard when both girls are looking for a friend! What starts with a simple "hello" and "konnichiwa" becomes a day filled with fun in the snow.
Each girl's love of play, snow, and making a new friend transcends the need to speak the same language, and by using simple words in their own languages, along with a bit of charades, the girls find they have all they need to build a snow creature.
An important book to show children that speaking the same language isn't a prerequisite to making a new friend. (Description from Amazon)
Do you know a fantastic book that would make a great addition to this list? I'd love to hear your recommendations! Please leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts. Thank you for helping make this list even better!