By Courtney Runn
There’s something so unifying in cheering on Olympic athletes as they strive for excellence on the world stage. The summer and winter Games also offer an opportunity to teach kids important lessons about resilience, teamwork, discipline, winning, and losing. So go for the gold during read-aloud time with these picture books about the Winter Olympics!
Dive into the world of winter sports and join these storybook characters (real and fictional) as they glide along ice, soar through the air, speed down slopes, and set new records. From silly reads featuring skiing penguins to the true stories of barrier-breaking athletes, these books will inspire and entertain your own little athletes all year long.
Make reading aloud more rewarding for the whole family.
Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi introduces a delightful skating heroine in the form of Poppy the pig. Poppy’s family cheers for her to dream big, but every time she tries something new, she feels like a failure. When she attempts ballet, singing, and modeling, others tell her she can’t do them. But her family doesn’t stop encouraging her. When she tries ice skating, she doesn’t let the opinions of her coach or her mistakes stop her. Ice skating teaches Poppy to be persistent and chase her dreams, despite what other people say.
Kitoo, an orphan in Kenya, is fascinated by an icy sport he discovers in the pages of a book: hockey. Inspired by the Canadian men’s hockey team, he fixes up an old pair of roller blades to teach himself how to play. This sweet story celebrates the power of reading and the importance of friendship—and proves that it is indeed possible to play ice hockey in Kenya. Whether you live in a warm or cold climate, young readers will enjoy this unique spin on a winter sports tale.
Jackie J. Spade is the sports queen at her school, dominating the soccer field, karate mat, ice-skating rink, swimming pool, tennis court, and baseball field. She wins them all … until she experiences her first loss in a race. This rhyming story teaches young readers that you win some and you lose some, but what matters most is responding with grace and resilience regardless of the outcome—an important lesson for any aspiring Olympian!
Publishing just in time for the 2022 Winter Games, Who is Chloe Kim? will introduce readers to the youngest woman to receive an Olympic gold medal in snowboarding. Former sports editor Stefanie Loh brings her extensive knowledge to this newest installment in the New York Times’ biography series for young readers, delivering a sweet read for any snowboard enthusiasts or Chloe fans.
Introduce your little one to the true story of Mabel Fairbanks, the first black and Native American woman inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. Orphaned at a young age, Mabel learned to skate after watching other children in Central Park. She practiced and practiced at the park, but wasn’t allowed to skate at the indoor, all-white skating rink.
Mabel didn’t let that stop her growing love for the sport, however. She went on to perform on television, coach other skaters, and pave the way for other athletes to compete in spaces where she was denied access. Her success and mentorship broke boundaries for more athletes of color to follow their skating dreams.
Join Snowman Paul on his journey to gold at the Winter Olympics. From curling to snowboarding to the luge, he comes in first every time. But when his friend points out that he won with a little extra help, Paul admits to cheating and returns his medals, offering a valuable lesson about the importance of telling the truth.
In this installment of the Tacky the Penguin series, Tacky is headed to the Olympic Games. But, unlike his fellow penguin athletes, he doesn’t train very hard, and none of his winter events seem to go his way. He gets his team disqualified from the bobsled race, jumps way too high on the ski jumping event, and almost messes up the baton race. Kids—and adults!—will enjoy this silly take on the winter Games.
After centuries of keeping himself company, Vlad the vampire decides it’s time to find a new hobby. Dancing, aerobics, and scrapbooking aren’t for him. When he hears there’s a sport where you get to “pound,” “crush,” and “destroy” your opponent, though, he’s all in—but little does he know he’s joining a youth hockey league. This funny story about Vlad’s quest to learn hockey will get readers of all ages laughing.
World champion and Olympic figure skater Kurt Browning makes practicing the alphabet fun with this A to Z guide of skating. Introduce your little ones to lots of ice skating terminology while building alphabetical knowledge at the same time. Ice skaters and fans will enjoy this thorough exploration of their beloved sport.
Bonus reads about winter sports and adventure:
While not an Olympian, North Pole explorer Matthew Henson deserves a spot on your winter book list. This Kirkus-starred read by Carole Boston Weatherford takes young readers on Matthew’s historic 1909 journey, when he braved perilous elements and fought discrimination as a black explorer.
Jackie Robinson might not be known for any winter sports, but this sweet true story written by his daughter will be a homerun for baseball fans and anyone who can relate to overcoming fear. While his kids loved playing in the lake by their home, Jackie avoided it at all costs, until they finally convinced him to venture out onto the frozen water while they skate. Young readers will discover a new side to their baseball hero while gaining some courage of their own.
What’s your favorite book about the Winter Olympics? Don’t miss our roundup of Summer Olympics books for more inspiring Olympic reads!
Courtney Runn is an Austin-based writer who loves watching ice skating during the Winter Olympics.