“What to do with the kids during a snowstorm?” Hmm…

“What to do with the kids during a snowstorm?” Hmm…

It’s not often that my reaction to something online is, “Oh, come on!” 🙂

Well, that’s how I felt about this

CNN post by Kelly Wallace

Our now adult kid lives in the Boston area, and they are expecting a snowstorm. That’s not usually news 😉 but this one is, and it’s meaning that some school districts are closing for a “snow day”.

I get that a change in routine can be challenging, especially if you have kids who are quite young…I’ll go with under five.

It also may mean that an adult is staying home in an unusual situation, and that can be hard, too.

However, the answer seems easy to me for older kids, or would have been easy for me and my siblings.

It’s a four letter word.

It rhymes with “need”.



Certainly, that’s what I would have done as a kid if “trapped” in the house.

I would have looked forward to a day like that, for just that reason. It’s also what my parents would have expected me to do.

The “what to do with…” can indicate what the disposition should be (“What should we do with all these bubble gum wrappers?”), or indicate something you will both do together (“What should we do with Kris and Pat tonight?”). Both meanings work with reading. You can let your kids read on their own, or you could read to (and with) them. That works even if they are too young to read (but old enough to enjoy it…which can be quite young).

A situation like this particularly lends itself to “binge reading”…starting through a series. There are several great series that you can get legally for free (Oz, of course, for me immediately comes to mind…I’d start with the second book, The Marvelous Land of Oz), because they are not under copyright protection (they are in the “public domain”…the public owns them).

My record in a day as an adult was three and a half novels. 🙂 It was the Expendables series by Richard Avery. They are “popcorn books”, definitely quick reads. Unfortunately, not available (at least legally in the USA from Amazon) for the Kindle.

I was once (literally) on the island of Bora Bora, and read through all of the books I brought (one of the great things about having the Kindle…I can bring a lot more books than I could bring in my separate book suitcase). The only books I could buy were

The Executioner series (Mack Bolan) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I read something like ten of those.

Similarly, my life was changed for the better when I was in Alaska, and serendipitously picked up some of the Bantam Doc Savage reprints.

I want to say that I think it’s important that you don’t worry about being able to get through the whole series in the one day! It can be a great way to inspire your child to continue to read after the snow day, if you don’t.

Of course, reading just one book can be good, too. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame might be a good choice. It’s a much slower pace than many works, although there is adventure in it. Don’t be put off by it being British…I’ve always loved learning words from outside my personal experience, and it’s easy enough to understand, in my opinion. Of course, on a Kindle, you also have tools (including the dictionary) which can help. If your internet doesn’t go out, the Wikipedia look up could also help.

Anyway, one thing that surprised me about the article was that nobody in it mentioned reading as an option…despite the fact that two of the experts quoted are listed as being authors! 🙂

Snow days weren’t really part of my childhood experience, but how about you? What memories do you have reading when snowed in? What books or series would you recommend either for children to read on their own or for adults to read with them for the next couple of days? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


9 Responses to ““What to do with the kids during a snowstorm?” Hmm…”

  1. Tuxy Says:


    Would you mind helping me out with some book recommendations? 7 year old girl, reading around 5th grade-ish level (reading level V according to some rating system). She tends to get antsy if a book isn’t immediately funny or super interesting. She does like graphic novels, although I would prefer not encouraging those too much (when she reads graphic novels, she tends to look at the pictures, and skip any larger blocks of text).

    She enjoyed the first Harry Potter book, but the second one was too scary (gets scared easily with books and movies and such). She loves the Phoebe and her Unicorn series as well as the World According to Humphrey series. We are currently reading The Magician’s Nephew (CS Lewis) as a red aloud, and she likes that, but didn’t want to read any of those books on her own.

    She also enjoyed the diary of a wimpy kid, but the middle school humor became a big problem in our house, so I stopped getting those after the second. (yes, I am more strict about that type of thing…)

    Any recommendations for some books she might enjoy? I’ve had a hard time finding things that keep her interest, but aren’t *way* below her capabilities…

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tuxy!

      Are there particular subjects that interest her? Animals, or exploring, or mysteries, or being on stage, for example?

      I do understand your dilemma. Our kid read far over the expected level, and a librarian gave our kid a Goosebumps book…which had residual fear effects for a few years.

      An initial suggestion based on what you’ve said: what about Choose Your Own Adventure? Oh, that’s disappointing! The Kindle store used to have them, but I don’t see it now. There are some similar ideas. I would think maybe also something like Nancy Drew, or The Hardy Boys, or Encyclopedia Brown…a series with characters. Oh, and for me at that age, real life animal books were big…Capyboppy, some of the Gerald Durrells…but that might be me. Oz, starting with The Marvelous Land (the second book) are always worth trying. 🙂

      • Tuxy Says:

        She seems to like fantasy a lot. She loves dragons and unicorns a lot. She read the first two books in the how to train your dragon series, but hasn’t been too interested in moving beyond those yet. She also really likes books that are funny. It’s hard to find books at her reading level that are funny in a way that she understands without being entirely potty humor.

        We did try a couple of choose your own adventure books that we found at a thrift store, but they just didn’t keep her attention. She tends to get really into a series (like the humphrey series or phoebe and her unicorn, and she will re-read those books over and over again. But when she has read all the books in the series, she gets frustrated with that. 🙂

        The biggest struggle is that recently she seems to have been finding fewer books interesting to her. She also is very quick to judge books, so if the title / cover isn’t interesting enough, or if the first chapter doesn’t catch her interest enough, she won’t go back to the book. She tried the first Oz book, and didn’t make it past the first couple chapters. I figure that this is mostly a maturity issue, since she’s still pretty young. I may try the second Oz book and see if that catches her attention better.

        I haven’t tried Nancy Drew with her yet, because when I was that age, I remember being scared by some of those books, and she gets scared from books very easily. I don’t know much about the Hardy Boys, but I might see if those go over well.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Tuxy!

        How about Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling? Short stories may be a good way to go.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        My Significant Other had an interesting idea…how about non-fiction? Specifically, maybe take her to a public library and let her browse through a kids’ encyclopedia. I really liked having one, and so did our kid. That could also identify some other areas of deeper interest.

  2. Lady Galaxy Says:

    Hi, Tuxy. I am a retired teacher who is certified as a reading specialist and licensed to teach reading in grades K-12. You are to be commended for wanting to help your young reader find more books to enjoy. May I weigh in?

    Just because books are easy for her to read doesn’t mean they are poor choices for her to read. The most important thing to know when recommending books is what entertains her? What are her favorite books? I would hate to recommend specific titles without knowing more about her. So I’ll just suggest that you forget about so called “reading level” and look for more books similar to the ones she has already enjoyed.

    Having a 5th grade reading level means she has the ability to independently read most books written for that grade level and below. However, as you have discovered, books written for older readers might contain content that is not interesting to or not appropriate for her age level. I have a college level reading ability, but I still enjoy quality children’s picture books and chapter books such as “Tops and Bottoms” by Janet Stevens or chapter books featuring Amelia Bedelia and her totally literal view of the world.

    The average 7 year old is in second grade, and most children in that grade still enjoy picture books. In third grade, the natural transition is into chapter books which contain more text than illustration. Is that what you mean by graphic novels? The artwork in some children’s books is truly amazing. It enhances the reading experience. If she likes books with pictures, look for Caldecott Medal winners and expose her to stories with masterful works of art.

    It’s OK if she doesn’t read all of the text so long as she follows the story, and there’s really nothing wrong with letting the pictures tell the story. It helps develop imagination. There are even wordless picture books. Wordless picture books were originally intended for pre readers or disabled readers, but they are useful tools for developing creative writing skills in more gifted readers.

    I hope this helps.

    • Tuxy Says:

      Lady Galaxy,

      Thanks for your input! By graphic books, I’m thinking more like comic book types of books. She does like picture books as well, though. I have kind of discouraged the ones that only have a few words per page, but I may try to back off, and just encourage more reading in general.

      She is still in first grade (just turned 7), but the school we have her in has been helping her a lot. She’s in a small reading group with 4 or 5 other students her age who are reading right around her level, and is taking 2nd grade math, so that helps a ton. 🙂 Her reading group just read one of the Mrs Piggle-Wiggle books, which she enjoyed even though she had read it a few months earlier at home.

      Thank you so much for the advice and discussions!!! I really appreciate getting a perspective from someone with a lot of educational experience. The teachers my daughter has had are all pretty new teachers, and they haven’t given me much feedback on this type of thing.

  3. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Until I was 7 years old, I lived in Ticonderoga NY. It was common to have 3-4 feet of snow on the ground for most of the winter. We were used to snow, and the whole idea of a “snow” day just wasn’t part of the lexicon. Snow was a time of great fun: ginormous snow forts, big snowmen, etc. One thing we liked to do was start with a snowball, and roll it around on the ground until the ball had grown to 6 or 7 feet in diameter; then roll it down the hill!

    One “snow” day I have never forgotten occurred in the late winter of 1949-50 (when I was 4 years old). Ticonderoga sits between the southern end of Lake Champlain and the northern end of Lake George. For over 200 years there have been passenger/excursion boats on Lake George run by the Lake George Steamboat company. These only ran in the summer as all the lakes were frozen solid in winter.

    In 1949 the company bought a retired WW2 navy ship sitting in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. They sailed it up the Hudson River through the Champlain canal to the Ticonderoga dock on Lake Champlain. They cut the boat into pieces, and transported the pieces overland to the Company’s dry-dock on Lake George. One piece of the boat (the prow) was too large for any vehicle to transport. So early in 1950, many dump trucks drove by our house depositing snow in the street to a depth of about a foot. These were followed by the prow pulled along on the snow. It was huge, and I can remember it “sailing” along on a bed of snow right by my front yard. 😀

    You can see all the boats used by the company over the years (including a picture of this one: Ticonderoga II) at the following web site:

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      That’s really cool…freezing, in fact. 😉 I love that picture, and I like the idea of two meter snowballs!

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