15 Winter Themed Novels for Upper Elementary

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It's that time of year! The chilly months continue and reading a winter themed novel just feels right. 

In this post I've rounded up 15 winter themed novels for upper elementary. These books cover a big range! You'll find classic and contemporary reads, adventure and humor--something for everyone!

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1. Brian's Winter by: Gary Paulsen

Have you or your students read Hatchet? If so, you will LOVE this retelling. Brian's Winter asks the question: what if? What if Brian hadn't been rescued before winter? Find out how Brian would face new and more deadly threats alone in a Canadian winter. 

2. The Dogs of Winter by: Robbie Pyron 

Based on a true story, Ivan is abandoned to the streets of Moscow and an extremely harsh winter. He finds himself adopted by a pack of dogs, searching for food/shelter, and learning the true meaning of humanity. 

3. The Long Winter by: Laura Ingalls Wilder

This classic novel follows the Ingalls family from The Little House on the Prairie. They now face 7 months of once-in-a-lifetime blizzards in the Dakota Territory. Food and fuel run low, trains cease deliveries, and the town must make difficult decisions. 

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4. Julie of the Wolves by: Jean Craighead George

Julie is a 13 year old girl in 20th century Alaska. After running away from an abusive husband she struggles to survive in the wilderness. A pack of wolves befriends her and she learns to appreciate life in Alaska. Trigger warning: themes of abuse. Recommended for mature upper elementary. 

5. Stone Fox by: John Reynolds Gardiner

On a farm in Wyoming, Willy is left to care for his grandfather and dog. He struggles to complete the daily chores and pay taxes on the farm--until he learns of a dog race with a prize of $500! Stone Fox, an Indigenous man who has never lost a race, befriends Willy and helps him complete his journey. Trigger warning: depictions of death. 

6. White Fang by: Jack London

This novel is a sequel to Jack London's The Call of the Wild. White Fang is a dangerous, wild dog living in the Yukon region of Canada. He encounters frequent violence and death in the wilderness. After a long series of events  he becomes domesticated and lives his remaining days happily on an estate. Trigger warning: themes of violence and starvation. Would be best for audiences 10+. 

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7. Snow Treasure by: Marie McSwigan 

Based on a true story, this novel depicts Norwegian efforts to hide their country's gold from a Nazi invasion. Peter leads the children of Riswyk to transport this gold through the snow to a secret ship. The children face dangers from the Nazis, spies, weather, and time as they complete their mission. Trigger warning: depictions of war. 

8. The Winter of Red Snow by: Kristiana Gregory

From the "Dear America" series, this novel is the diary of Abigail Jane Stewart. Abigail lives in Valley Forge in 1778, the winter George Washington set up his encampment. The winter is brutal and Abigail depicts the every day life of families, soldiers, and General Washington. Trigger warning: depictions of war and violence.  

9. Forge by: Laurie Halse Anderson 

This novel also depicts revolutionary life in Valley Forge. The sequel to Chains, this is the story of Curzon Smith, a runaway slave in the Colonial Army. Curzon befriends Ebenezer Woodruff (Eben) and navigates the seemingly impossible life of a runaway slave, during a war, in the time of slavery. Trigger warning: depictions of slavery, racism, and war.Image of Hans Brinker, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Mr. Popper's Penguins in Pin image for 15 Winter Themed Novels for Upper Elementary

10. Mr. Popper's Penguins by: Richard and Florence Atwater

This delightful classic is lighthearted and appropriate for young audiences. Mr. Popper, a quirky painter, is gifted penguins from the South Pole. His town and much of the country have never seen penguins so he creates a unique performing act. Mr. Popper soon learns that penguins are not made for North America and gets help from Admiral Drake, an explorer.

11. Hans Brinker/The Silver Skates by: Mary Maples Dodge

Hans Brinker lives in Holland in the mid-1800s. In this classic tale, Hans and his family are left penniless after his father's injury. Hans hopes to enter a skating race but uses the skate money to hire a doctor for his father. This selfless action leads to his father's recovery, the recovery of lost money, and reunited families. 

12. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by: C.S. Lewis

The Pevensie children have been sent to the British countryside during the Nazi invasion of WWII. Here they find a mysterious wardrobe and the magical land of Narnia. The children are called upon to help set Narnia free from the White Witch. They befriend magical creatures, animals, and the fierce lion Aslan while fulfilling their calling. 

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13. Caddie Woodlawn by: Carol Ryrie Brink

Caddie lives in Wisconsin in the 1860s with her large family. She deals with frontier life, friends, siblings, and school. Although this is set during the Civil War, the story does not mention it much and instead revolves around settler/Native American relations. Trigger warning: some depictions of Native Americans are not culturally sensitive but can lead to class discussions. 

14. Caleb's Story by: Patricia MacLachlan

If you've read Sarah, Plain and Tall you will love this point of view. Told from Caleb's perspective, we see what the family is up to now. Anna has moved away to attend school, the family has a new baby, and prairie life continues. 

15. The Poet's Dog by: Patricia MacLachlan

This story is also a sweet tale by Patricia MacLachlan. A dog named Teddy comes across 2 children in a blizzard. He takes them to his home for safety where he and a poet (Sylvan) used to live together. Teddy can communicate with children and poets as they are the only people who understand "dog speech". 

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