The Snowy Day is a classic children's book written and illustrated by the legendary Ezra Jack Keats in 1962. The story follows young Peter on his adventures through his neighborhood on a snowy day. Peter discovers the joys of leaving fun footprints, having a snowball fight with older kids, building a smiling snowman, and making snow angels. Peter also decides to bring some snow home, not knowing it won't keep when he goes to check on it later. When Peter wakes from a dream that all the snow has melted, he is pleasantly surprised to find out that not only is the snow still there. New snow is falling, and his adventures begin again with his friend from across the hall.
Besides being a great story that is easy for young readers to follow and relate to, it's hard to not get lost in the wonderful artwork that accompanies it. Mr.Keats not only wrote a story that kids will love to read and read again, but creates wonderful illustrations to match the story. Each page has great text to illustration synchronicity. This is why The Snowy Day is a emergent reader library must have, and should be in every elementary school K-2 classroom's class library.
Teaching Ideas and Invitations
My Snow Day Throughout the story Peter has many snow day adventures. Use this as a way to ask your students about what they do on snow days. Then have students describe their ideal activities on a snow day in written form. They should accompany their activities with an illustrations of their own. This can be varied based on grade, for example, a kindergartener would write one sentence and draw a picture, but a second grader would write several sentences and draw a picture.
Smiling Snowman At one point in the story Peter makes a smiling snowman. Have your students create a smiling snowman with construction paper and cotton balls. Then have your students write a short biography about their snowman.
Where'd the Snow Go? Peter took some snow home with him, but when he went back to get it after his bath it was gone. Have a conversation with your class about why they think the snow disappeared. This is a good way to introduce some science into the lesson.
Print Concepts There are a lot of great print concepts in this book that Mr.Keats can teach an early reader. To start, in first paragraph of text there is a word that is cut off in the middle and continued on the next line. This can be tricky for an early reader, but a great lesson for an early reader to learn about. It teaches them that sometimes words may stop midway at the end of a line and pickup at the start of the next line. This book also has fun with words when Mr.Keats spaces out words with dashes between letters to imply slowness. There is also use of an onomatopoeia, Plop!, you can talk about how sometimes words are used to mean sounds. It might be a hard concept to teach younger kids, but they might grasp it.
Diversity It's hard not to mention the importance of The Snowy Day and how it broke barriers in terms of race and diversity in children's literature. When it was published in 1962 Peter was one of the first African-American protagonists in a widely circulated children's book. Its setting in an urban location is not to be over looked either, these themes were not being utilized in the early 1960s alienating an entire population of children looking for a role model to relate to. Peter was that character for so many children, and continues to be so in The Snowy Day and the many other books Mr.Keats wrote with Peter staring in them.
The Snowy Day Online Read-aloud
Ezra Jack Keats Foundation
The Snowy Day: The Game
'The Snowy Day': Breaking Color Barriers, Quietly
An NPR audio story and article about why Mr.Keats, who was white, decided to make Peter, African-American. A very interesting read, that features great insight from Deborah Pope, the executive director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation.
Trailer for the Amazon Prime Adaptation of The Snowy Day