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A Cozy Winter Reading List for Kids

By Nancy Brown, Library Volunteer with The Pencils & Paper Program at JFS Rochester

In the chill of winter, there’s nothing quite like snuggling up with a good book. Fostering a love for reading knows no bounds. It’s so important to me that we ensure every child, regardless of their circumstances, can discover the enchantment found within the pages of a good book. This carefully curated list embraces the joy of childhood reading at all ages, making it perfect for both family story time and a child’s own reading time. As children explore the pages of these thoughtfully chosen books, they not only embark on literary adventures but also encounter characters and experiences mirroring their own lives. Diversity in literature is essential, and this collection reflects the rich tapestry of backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, and family types that make up the vibrant Greater Rochester community. I hope you enjoy these selections and have many winter nights filled with warmth, laughter, and the magic of stories that resonate with the diverse beauty of our world.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: My First 1-2-3

By Helen Oxenbury & Michael Rosen
Ages 2-4
Rollicking fun! Kids can use a finger to trace the shape of each number, on this first counting adventure.

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes/Cabeza, Hombros, Piernas, Pies

By Annie Kubler
Ages 1-3
A great introduction to books through well-known nursery rhymes and interactive text.

Here We Are (Notes for Living on Planet Earth)

By Oliver Jeffers
Ages 2-5
From the author of The Day the Crayons Quit. You’re never alone on planet earth. A dreamily illustrated guide for users.

Two New Years

By Richard Ho
Ages 3-5
Rosh Hashanah meets the Lunar New Year as a family blends cultures and traditions.


By Vashti Harrison
Ages 4-7
This deeply moving picture book shares valuable lessons about fitting in, standing out, the beauty of joyful acceptance, and the power of words to hurt and heal. National Book Award Winner 2023.

Something, Someday

By Amanda Gorman
Ages 4-8
From America’s Poet Laureate, poems of hope.
You’re told that
This won’t work,
But how will you know
If you never try?

The Birthday of the World: A Story About Finding Light in Everyone and Everything

By Rachel Naomi Remen
Ages 4-8
From celebrated author Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, a modern retelling of a timeless story about healing the world by finding light in everyone and everything.

By Sergio Ruzzier
Ages 5-8
Filled with sly humor, the dynamic duo learns to appreciate their differences. Fox and Chick don’t always agree, but Fox and Chick are always friends.

Eating Enchiladas (Simply Sarah)

By Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Ages 5-9
A Countries of the World book report assignment leads Sarah and her friend, Mercedes, to come up with an imaginative and entertaining project.

Squirlish, The Girls in the Tree

By Ellen Potter
Ages 6-10
Being raised by a squirrel and living in a tree might have made Cordelia an exceptional gymnast, but people skills are a whole other matter. Even if Cordelia can’t fully fit in with the other kids, can she at least make one friend?


By Katherine Applegate
Ages 8-10
Jackson, who with his family is homeless, finds friendship in surprising places.

The Losers Club

By Andrew Clements
Ages 9-11
A new book from the author of Frindle centers on sixth grader Alec who gets in trouble at school because he reads too much. Out of desperation to find time to just read, he forms an after-school club called The Losers Club. He intends to be the only member. Popularity ensues.

Ninth Ward

By Jewell Parker Rhodes
Ages 9-13
Readers will be inspired and moved by this tale of resilience and resourcefulness in the eye of Hurricane Katrina.

New Kid

By Jerry Craft
Ages 9-YA
This funny and heartfelt graphic novel covers new territory as seventh-grader Jordan Banks proves to be a sensitive and likable protagonist, eager for friendship but unsure how to fit in a school culture that deals awkwardly with issues of race and class. Winner of the Newbery Medal, Coretta Scott King Author Award, and Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature.

Nancy Brown is one of JFS Rochester’s dedicated volunteers, spending hours each week managing the library at Pencils & Paper, a program that ensures students in our community have the tools they need to succeed in the classroom. Access to quality education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty; a child having school supplies is a critical element to reaching that goal. Teachers that educate a high percentage of students living in poverty can come to Pencils & Paper twice per school to “shop” for free school supplies. Last year Pencils & Paper served 1,437 teachers from 76 schools, reaching an estimated 34,488 Pre-K to 8th grade students in Monroe County. Books are just one essential school supply given out at Pencils & Paper; this year Pencils & Paper will distribute more than 20,000 books to elementary and middle school classes in our community. Help Pencils & Paper get more supplies into the hands of teachers and students…Donate Today!

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