Monday, January 30, 2012

Happy 50th Anniversary to The Snowy Day!

Read It. Move It. Share It. 
For January, I decided to recommend The Snowy Day for independent dance educator Maria Hanley to incorporate into her creative movement classes in New York City. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the book, which is being honored in the media, through a national museum tour, and even in a new children's musical. Let's figure out how to celebrate it in dance class, too! 

Last week, the American Library Association announced the winners of some of the most prestigious annual awards in children's literature. Among them was the Randolph Caldecott Medal, which was awarded to A Ball for Daisy as the most distinguished American picture book of 2011. If you click here, you can see a full list of Caldecott winners and honor books from 1938 until today, including the 1963 winner The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.

This groundbreaking book was the first picture book to include an African American child as a main character, paving the way for the multicultural environment we more often see in picture books today. The book also stands out for its simple yet magical illustrations. The main character Peter is dressed in a bright red snow suit and iconic red snow cap through most of the book as he spends an adventurous day outside in the newly fallen snow. 

And what, you might be asking, makes this a good book for a children's dance class? Well, here is one of my favorite passages from the book, which convinced me that Peter possesses many of the same qualities that a dancer does. In fact, I bet Peter would have loved to take Maria's creative movement classes! 

Crunch, crunch, crunch, his feet sank into the snow. He walked with this toes pointing out like this. He walked with his toes pointing in, like that. Then he dragged his feel s-l-o-w-l-y to make tracks. And he found something sticking out of the snow that made a new track.

First of all, Peter is curious. He's curious to see what kind of tracks he can make in the snow with his feet. And later in the book, he's curious to see what happens when he smacks a snow-covered tree with a stick he finds on the ground. PLOP! It lands on his head! Peter is also creative. He not only thinks up lots of neat ways to move his feet through the snow but also pretends he's a mountain climber when he encounters a huge mound of snow later in the book.

And, like all passionate dancers, Peter loves to move! From the passage above, you know that he likes to move his feet in different directions and in different tempos. But he also likes to flap his arms, like when he makes snow angels. And he likes to move his whole body, like when he climbs up the snow mound and then slides all the way to the bottom, hands in the air and snow flying behind him. 

I'm sure Peter thought of lots of other things to do in the snow, too, since he was outside all day. And this makes me wonder what ideas Maria came up with to encourage movement in her creative dance classes. Did her students move like Peter moves in the book, or did Peter inspire them to move in other ways? You can find out here

After you read Maria's post, if you still want to know more about The Snowy Day and how it is being celebrated this year, here are some articles and sites worth checking out...

  • Publisher Viking Children's Books has issued a special 50th anniversary edition of the book, including eight pages of bonus material. Read more about this special edition and about a museum tour honoring the book here
  • Adventure Theatre, a popular children's theatre based outside of Washington, DC, recently premiered a musical based on the book. The show has been well received, and it is running until the middle of February 2012. Learn more here.   
  • If you want to know more about Ezra Jack Keats, the many books he created during his lifetime, and all the good that has come out of his life and his work, visit the beautiful website of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation.  


  1. This sounds like a cute book!:)

  2. Thanks so much for stopping by, Elizabeth. Hope you get a chance to read it some day. It's a real classic :)


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