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The Best Children’s Books About Frozen Worlds

Brrr! Our recommended children’s books feature stories that will whisk you away to icy landscapes and frozen worlds. Look out for exciting polar expeditions, adventures of ice queens and curious penguins…

If you are looking for stories set in polar regions, we’ve found the best children’s books for this topic. Dive into picturebooks about arctic explorers like Ernest Shackleton or The Great Explorer or heartwarming stories of animals surviving in polar habitats like The Emperor’s Egg or The Rainbow Bear. Our Review Panel has selected top educational books about the science and ecology of frozen worlds, like the large-format stunning non-fiction book Iceberg or Nicola Davies’ Emperor of the Ice.

You’ll also find chapter books featuring exciting adventure stories of friendship and survival in extreme conditions, like The Polar Bear Explorer’s Club or one of our very favourites, The Last Bear.

Our list of books will take your readers on a journey to the Arctic, Antarctic and imaginary frozen worlds too. Whether it’s penguins and polar bears or snow and ice, chart a new expedition into these recommended stories.

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Picturebooks about Frozen Worlds

Meredith Hooper
 & M. P. Robertson
Graphic Novel

A retelling of Shackleton’s astonishing journey, well pitched for KS2. This recount of Shackleton’s expedition is accompanied by illustrations, maps and timelines, making it detailed and informative without losing any of the drama of the exciting tale. For more on Shackleton, you may also like William Gill’s fantastic visual retelling of Shackleton’s Journey available on Amazon.

Chris Judge
This story follows a young boy who sets about to find his father, an explorer who appears to have gone missing in the North Pole. The boy has to prepare himself for the Arctic terrain by sourcing a map and packing his rucksack with all the things he thinks he might need. A fun and brightly illustrated picture book popular with KS1.
Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
 & Olivia Holden
Non-fiction Picturebook
In this book from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy bestselling Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the life of Ernest Shackleton, the fearless Antarctic adventurer. When Ernest Shackleton was young, he longed for a life of adventure. After a career in the Merchant Navy, he joined a landmark expedition to try to reach the South Pole for the first time in history. Although he had to go home early, he never gave up. His own expeditions set new records for the closest anyone had ever been to the South Pole, and he is remembered now as a courageous and inspirational leader. This exciting book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back , including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the intrepid explorer's life.
Yuval Zommer

For story times on starry nights with the blackest skies – comfort and warmth will be readily found in Yuval Zommer’s Northern Lights inspired picture book The Lights that Dance in the Night. Completing Yuval’s ‘winter trilogy’, this is a lyrical celebration of the Northern Lights. From tiny specs of dust to gleaming rays in the dark, the Northern Lights travel across the Arctic, uniting every creature in a celebration that reverberates through land and sea. Illustrated in Yuval Zommer’s compelling style, this is a dreamy and gentle story poem that is perfect for bedtime with little ones or cosy classroom story sessions inspiring children to want to seek out the wonders of the sky at night.

Children's stories about Arctic and Antarctic Animals

Ross Montgomery
 & Sarah Warburton

There’s something about penguin-themed stories that always seems to charm both children and adults. This Antarctic story is a delightful and amusing tale about penguins that get stuck in their huddle due to a strong wind and then embark on a journey to find help in separating themselves.

Children will love the funny humour of the penguins’ situation (how much fun would it be to be stuck in a hug?). Along the way, the penguins meet a variety of animals and encounter a number of obstacles and giggle-worthy situations. Only an idea from the very smallest penguin of all seems to work in the end. This entertaining storytime hit with a heartwarming ending is sure to be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Michael Morpurgo
 & Michael Foreman

This longer picturebook is the story of a polar bear who dreams of exchanging his snowy white coat for new fur that is as colourful as the rainbow he sees in the sky one day. The bear’s conspicuous new appearance leads him to be captured and exhibited in a zoo.

This engaging and thought-provoking story by master storyteller Michael Morpurgo is coupled with beautiful illustrations, making it one of our top choices for storytime in Year 2 and the surrounding year groups.

Martin Jenkins
 & Jane Chapman
An award-winning picture book about the Emperor penguin’s parenting.The Emperor penguin is the only large animal to remain on the Antarctic mainland throughout its bitterly inhospitable winter. Once the female has laid her egg, she heads back to the sea, leaving the male to incubate it. He then spends two months standing on the freezing cold ice with the egg on his feet! This is his story.
Chloe Savage

Seeing the elusive and never-before-seen Giant Arctic Jellyfish is Dr Morley’s life ambition. She adores jellyfish and has spent her life studying and researching the ultimate jellyfish: The Giant Arctic Jellyfish. Once her crew are assembled, they embark on their adventure to the cold Arctic on their boat to search the icy waters. They find a whole array of Arctic creatures in their polar habitat including narwhals, polar bears, beluga whales and orcas. They travel around the Arctic taking scientific samples and measurements: trying to find clues of the where abouts of the jellyfish but there is no sign. As time goes on, the team try and stay positive, but this is difficult in the harsh and cold conditions. After months, with still no sign, the team decide to pack up and return home – Dr Morley takes one last look around her – will she ever achieve her dream of the seeing the mysterious jellyfish?

A moving adventure story which shows the importance of perseverance in finding, chasing and achieving one’s dreams. The book is beautifully illustrated and adds to the story and adventure. As you read along, you can spot the Giant Arctic jellyfish on most pages – Where’s Wally? style – which is really engaging for younger readers and makes you urge on Dr Morley and her team.

The story is easy to read and follow and some of the language is suitably challenging for KS2 as well as KS1. I really enjoyed the story and illustrations and read it to my child, who enjoyed it so much that he has now claimed the book for his own.

Corrinne Averiss
 & Fiona Woodcock
A little polar bear, Miki, wanders away while his mother is diving for fish. He sees a dot in the snow and rushes towards it. Readers discover that the dot is a little girl. But Miki has never seen a human before and the little girl has never seen a polar bear. They discover more about each other as they play in the snow but then the perils of the polar landscape impel Miki to take the little girl home before undertaking the long journey to find his own mother. Although one is a polar bear and one is a little girl, Miki and Dot share a common experience: they are both separated from their mothers when they meet. Their bond of friendship gives them the strength to support each other during the course of a day that will last with them both forever. This is a moving and poignant story set in a changing and challenging polar landscape, perfect for the Christmas season. It wraps up important themes about empathy, kindness, and courage. The story is both simply told and affecting. The gorgeous snowscapes, full of real atmosphere, are created with printmaking techniques by debut illustrator Fiona Woodcock.

Short chapter books about Frozen Worlds

Harry Horse
Chapter book
In this story Grandfather, together with his canine companion Roo, sets off on an Arctic expedition to find the last polar bears. The story is told through a series of letters from Grandfather to a grandchild, through which Grandfather gives a first hand account of the highs and lows of his exciting journey. We like the way in which this book balances an appropriate level of humour at Grandfather's amusing escapades along with an underlying concern for the melting ice caps and the survival of creatures living in polar regions.
Philip Reeve
 & Sarah McIntyre
Chapter book

If you are looking for something to read that is fast-paced and humorous, this laugh-out-loud adventure story is the one for you! This is the whacky tale of cabin boy Shen and his friend Sika, who together with a motley crew of pugs enter an exciting race through vast and varied Arctic landscapes. This exciting and amusing tale is a great story to read aloud.

Catherine Johnson
 & Katie Hickey
Chapter book

The topic of polar exploration is a popular one in primary schools with teachers and pupils easily being able to reel off a list of famous arctic explorers: Shackleton, Scott, Cook, Peary. But how often do you hear the name Matthew Henson among the list, the man who travelled with Captain Peary and claimed to be the first to reach the North Pole?

In Race to the Frozen North, best-selling author Catherine Johnson offers a fictionalised retelling of Matthew Henson’s story, including how his achievements were unfairly suppressed for decades because of the colour of his skin. Published in Barrington Stoke’s ‘super-readable’ and dyslexia-friendly style, this is an accessible read for children in KS2.

Jill Tomlinson
 & Paul Howard
A charming story from the author of The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark. This story follows a young penguin chick called Otto who finds that it is not easy being small and living in the South Pole! This well-loved story is suitable for Years 1-3.
Holly Webb
Chapter book
As the snow begins to fall just days before Christmas, Grandad helps Sara build an igloo in the garden with a small snow bear to watch over it. And when Sara wakes in the middle of the night, it looks very different outside. She sets out on an enchanted journey through a world of ice, but will she ever find her way home...Celebrate the 10th anniversary of best-selling author Holly Webb's The Snow Bear in this dazzling new edition of the wintry tale.

Longer chapter books about Frozen Worlds

Abi Elphinstone
Chapter book

A magical adventure story with a strong female lead and overtones of Pullman and C.S. Lewis, ‘Sky Song’ will quickly whisk you away into an enchanting fantasy world. Set in an icy landscape populated by a power-hungry Ice Queen, tribes of children living in secret hide-outs and delightful magical animals, this text cleverly explores how the ‘magic’ of acceptance and tolerance can advance personal and societal change. On their quest to save the kingdom from the clutches of the Ice Queen, adventurers Eska and Flint discover that long-standing borders between different tribes can be broken down and that openness and courage are better markers of identity than ethnicity or class. Fast-paced and sparkling with magic on every page, this book is a real delight. A free scheme of work for KS2 is also available via the author’s website.

Alex Bell
 & Tomislav Tomic
Chapter book

This new adventure story is a great choice for upper KS2. After fighting hard to gain her place on an expedition, young Stella and her explorer friends embark upon an exciting adventure through vast Icelands. A wonderful mixture of fantasy and adventure, the narrative weaves its way through dangerous and magical encounters with snow queens, unicorns, frost fairies and wolf-whisperers.

Hannah Gold
 & Levi Pinfold
Chapter book

A beautifully heartfelt and moving story with strong environmental themes. This story highlights the topic of global warming but also draws a picture of the wonderful connection that can develop between children and animals.

When April heads to a remote Arctic island with her father, who is there for scientific research, she’s not sure exactly what to expect. The trip to ‘Bear Island’ has the potential to be a very lonely trip – with endless summer Arctic nights, an isolated wilderness and, according to her father, no actual polar bears left on the island for April to spot despite its name.

Surprisingly, April encounters a real polar bear on the island when nobody else is around. Isolated from his family, the bear is starving and alone, with nobody to help him. Over time, a friendship develops and April becomes more determined than ever to save the bear. April knows that she will have to tread carefully to nourish the bear in secret and to navigate the issue of making the adults listen at the right moment. Before long, April realises she is witnessing first-hand the impact of a much bigger global problem. With courage in the face of powerlessness, April embarks upon a quest to get the bear to safety in an adventure that she will never forget.

There’s something magical about this story – from the wonderfully evoked Arctic setting to the glorious friendship that develops between April and the bear. There often seems to be a direct connection and a deep instinct to care that exists between children and the natural world. This connection is highlighted in the story through how April can make a difference in the plight of the bear despite her feeling of powerlessness. Many young readers who do care about climate change will relate to April’s frustration at the inaction of many people, to her sadness at the plight of our precious planet and to her desire to make a difference, even through the smallest of actions.

This is a powerful and important story that will stir the heart through its gently unfolding message that places hope in the hands of the young to make a difference in the planet’s future.

Tom Palmer
Chapter book Dyslexia-friendly

This well-researched and highly readable historical fiction book takes its title from the name of the medal that honours the Arctic Convoys during World War II and in recognition of the particularly harsh conditions they endured.  It was the winner of the BooksForTopics Book of the Year Award for Best Curriculum Support.

Tom Palmer has taken facts gathered from the Imperial War Museum, among other sources, to compose a gripping fictional story about three teenage Royal Navy recruits from Plymouth: Frank, Stephen and Joseph. Their resilience, fortitude and courage shine as brightly as the Arctic (North) Star against the surrounding darkness. Their very survival, both physical and mental, is threatened by constant attacks from German U-boats, submarines, planes and, most terrifying of all, the German battleship known as the Scharnhorst – not to mention freezing conditions, fierce storms, shattered dreams and rocky relationships. How will they pull through? Indeed, will they?

The life-and-death struggle is played out until the very last page, but it was no game for those who lived the adventure back in the 1940s – that much is clear. It is also very clear how much the author respects those who served and how determined he is to portray accurately their service to the nation. He has done so with huge success.

This book, with its concluding Author’s Note together with the accompanying online teaching notes available from Tom Palmer’s website, provides an exciting and informative classroom resource for the teaching of WWII as a curriculum topic, besides being a book many children will choose for the sheer enjoyment of reading. A thoroughly recommended read, just like Tom Palmer’s other well-researched and highly readable novels.

Sarah Lean
 & Fiona Woodcock
Chapter book

The Good Bear is a superb story to snuggle up with in the winter months, exploring themes of families, relationships and ‘togetherness’ through the tale of a young girl and a life-changing visit to the Norwegian winter. Thea, the main character, retells her story as a first-person narrative and sets the scene for the action to come through the first chapter, where she is beginning to settle down to tell her tale to her daughter as a part of a long-standing Christmas tradition.

In her story, set 30 years before, Thea receives an invitation to spend the Christmas holidays with her estranged father, who works as a carpenter and lives with his wife and her children in Norway. As she arrives, there is news that a bear has escaped from a circus and may be hiding in the forests near to where she is staying.

Thea’s complex emotions towards her father are sensitively and honestly written; particularly Thea’s anger towards Henry’s new family and their seemingly perfect life. Thea’s relationship with the bear is central to the story and gives the book a sense of Christmas magic that is warm and gentle; a welcome contrast to the more overtly tinsel-filled Christmas books.

A beautiful story brimming with winter magic.

M. G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman
Chapter book

We love this full-throttle mystery adventure series set on trains, with likeable characters and well-paced plots. This latest instalment invites readers onboard a journey through the never-ending night of the arctic winter towards the Arctic Circle and Northern Lights. The clues and red herrings unfold one by one and the high spirit of adventure and atmospheric setting are enough to set imaginations tingling just as much as detective senses. An absolute winner of a story – just like the rest of the series.

Non-Fiction about Frozen Worlds

William Grill
Graphic Novel

This is a brilliantly visual re-telling of Ernest Shackleton’s adventures from pole to pole, published to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Shackleton’s historic expedition. This engaging text is filled with diagrams, maps, infographics and fascinating facts that will both delight readers and transport them through an imaginary exploration of frozen worlds. We recommend Shackleton’s Journey as a good non-fiction text to use for engaging reluctant readers in KS2. There is also an accompanying activity book available from Amazon.

Mario Cuesta Hernando
 & Raquel Martin
Antarctica was only discovered 200 years ago and since its discovery, explorers, sailors, and scientists have been travelling to the world's only uninhabited continent to learn all they can about its icy environment. This book follows the story of a group of researchers on their half-year stay in Antarctica. Their goal was to examine the animals, plants, atmosphere, weather, and fossils in the area. Through full-page illustrations, children will experience the work and life of these explorers and scientists as they study penguins, whales, and seals, measure the depth of the ice, chart wind speeds of up to 186 mph (300km/h), examine old volcanoes, and withstand some of the lowest temperatures ever recorded. Kids will also learn about Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott, the legendary explorers who first set foot on Antarctica. Equal parts thrilling adventure and in-depth exploration, this book is an unforgettable illustrated expedition to Antarctica that is sure to satisfy the boldest bedtime traveler.
Claire Saxby
 & Jess Racklyeft
In the final freeze of an Antarctic winter, green tails wave across a star-full sky, as if to farewell endless nights. If this world looks empty, look closer ... Penguins trek across the ice to their winter homes. As the temperature warms, birds fly above on their long migrations. And with the advent of summer, beneath an iceberg, the sea is teeming with life. Ocean, sky, snow and ice - minute greens and giant blues - dance a delicate dance in this evocative portrayal of the life cycle of an iceberg.
Nicola Davies
 & Catherine Rayner

‘Emperor of the ice’ is a beautifully written story based on fact. The book informs the reader about the life of penguins through the year and the struggles they face.

The illustrations are stunning and help to make it clear what time of year each event takes place. The information at the back of the book about climate change and how it is affecting emperor penguins was clear and well-explained.

This is a great book for children in Year 2 and beyond to learn about the topic of polar regions. Highly recommended for the classroom.

Jon Nelson
How do snow crystals form? What shapes can they take? Are no two snow crystals alike? These questions and more are answered inside this exploration of the science of snow, featuring photos of real snow crystals in all their beautiful diversity. Perfect for reading on winter days, this book by a nature photographer and a snow scientist will inspire wonder and curiosity about the marvels of snow. Snowflake-catching instructions are also included for aspiring young snow scientists!

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