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The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice
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The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  171 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
The beginning of winter is marked by the solstice, the shortest day of the year. Long ago, people grew afraid when each day had fewer hours of sunshine than the day before. Over time, they realized that one day each year the sun started moving toward them again. In lyrical prose and cozy illustrations, this book explains what the winter solstice is and how it has been obse ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published September 22nd 2003 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
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Robyn Schaefer
Dec 28, 2014 Robyn Schaefer rated it did not like it
This book explains the scientific and historical significance of the winter solstice. At least, it attempts to. I personally would not choose to add this book to my classroom collection. The book is seemingly kid-friendly, with just 2-3 sentences per page alongside youthful and cheery oil pastel illustrations. However, I think the book would be more baffling than informative to a child.

The narrative format hinders the scientific explanation of the movement of the sun. The text reads, “In the no
Oct 31, 2008 Rachel rated it liked it
Pagan parents can't be too choosy when looking for books celebrating the sabbats. Still, I was hoping for more from this Winter Solstice book for children. It comes across as a bit dry and soul-less, a factual account of something that means a lot more to us than simply that it is the shortest day of the year. Nothing thrilling here, but I'm thankful for it as an addition to my library all the same.
May 02, 2015 Elsie rated it really liked it
Personal reaction- this book is a fabulous teaching tool for students to learn about the winter solstice and how the earth adapts to time changes. While reading this, you already know that this book would be an excellent choice for children to read or have read to during the time changes throughout the year. Obviously this book would work best with the winter solstice. This can help children understand why we have daylight savings time and why the different seasons have different temperatures. R ...more
Latifa Awad
Oct 26, 2014 Latifa Awad rated it really liked it
Genre: Non-fiction, Informational Text

This book goes through the history of celebrating the Winter Solstice. This is the shortest day in the year. There are still 24 hours in this day, but the hours of daylight are the shortest because of the way the Earth is tilted and the amount of sunlight that shines on Earth. The book describes different cultures in the past and present that celebrated this day. Some cultures thought that the sun appearing less and less was a sign from the gods that they we
Mar 12, 2014 David rated it liked it
Author Wendy Pfeffer’s book, The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice, combines scientific facts about the effects of Earth’s rotation with anthropological information about how ancient and contemporary cultures have viewed and responded to the changing seasons. Specifically, focus is on the shortest day of the year: the winter solstice. This book is a terrific resource for older elementary students to learn about and celebrate the winter solstice. In fact, the end of the book offers nu ...more
Nov 12, 2014 Chris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This is a wonderful book on many levels. The illustrations are delicious, full of rich purples, golds, blues. The kind of loveliness I'd like to frame and put on my walls. The book explains the "shortest day" - the winter solstice - clearly and simply. It tells of several ancient cultures' discoveries about the solstices. The book ends with two pages of facts and six wonderful activities: Making a sunrise/sunset chart, measuring shadows, using a compass, creating a sun and earth demo and having ...more
Anna Nesterovich
Dec 12, 2015 Anna Nesterovich rated it it was ok
Shelves: childrens
It was one of the only two children's books about the winter solstice in our library, and both of them fell short of my expectations.
The authors of both books got their audience completely messed up. I'm not even sure who the target audience was. The cover and illustrations look like they were made with toddlers in mind, I can't see anyone older than 5 be comfortable with the design. The text, on the other hand, is clearly for someone a bit older, not so much because of the difficult words (and
Jan 04, 2010 Cara rated it it was amazing
I would read this book to my hypothetical future children! Great explanations, lovely pictures, lots of facts and activities to engage the kids in truly learning about and understanding the solstice.
Apr 07, 2014 Jessica rated it liked it
Perhaps a good book for older kids interested in Winter Solstice. It starts out more applicable to the changing of seasons and then becomes a huge history lesson.
Melanie Rightmyer
Great book for the winter solstice!
Nov 30, 2013 Marlayna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer was refereed to as a recommended book by the Orbis Pictus Award committee in 2004. After reading this book however, my group deemed it worthy to have won the award in 2004. The book describes what the winter solstice is and how different cultures looked at why the winter solstice was occurring. The author explains to the reader that the shortest day of the year is on December 21 and even though there is still 24 hours in a day, t ...more
Dec 22, 2012 Dolly rated it liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is an interesting book that explains the changing of the seasons and specifically about the winter solstice. The history of how people marked this special day each year is fascinating and we all learned a little more about this topic.

The narrative is a good length for elementary school-age children and while they didn't want me to read the detailed page that explains the science of the solstice and equinox cycle, they were interested in the rest of the book. Overall, I thought this was an
We enjoyed learning about the scientific process behind the winter solstice. It was interesting to learn that many different peoples throughout world history were so intrigued by this natural Earth event that barely goes noticed nowadays.

We did not do any of the experiments and were not interested in parties to celebrate the winter solstice.
More wordy than I would like for my age range, I think this fits my audience (pre-k) more than the standby, "The Winter Solstice." Love the activities and info in the back. I'm still annoyed at the amount of kids' books that only briefly touch on Africa- always mentioning Egypt, always illustrating with light-skinned people.
I thought this was going to be a nice alternative for pagans who celebrate the solstice rather than Christmas. This was more science based, explaining to children why the days get shorter. Some pretty cute ideas for celebrating in the back of the book, but nothing near what I was hoping to find.
Jan 04, 2015 Shannon rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
This would be a great book for older or more advanced readers. It'd be fantastic for a GLAD unit on weather or the night sky.
Jan 08, 2016 Brenda added it
An interesting children's book about the winter solstice celebrations.
Jan 06, 2014 Heather rated it it was amazing
I bought this for my son for the Winter Solstice. It takes you through ancient celebrations of this time of year. Then it takes you through the science and how we know what the winter solstice is. There are a few science experiments and projects to do at the end of the book. The illustrations are well-done. It's a great book.
Dec 26, 2012 AnandaTashie rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, children
A look at solstice celebrations throughout various cultures & times (with organized writing). Tries to combine those celebrations with the science around the solstice. Every now and then, there's a touch of poetry to the writing. I would have liked to see more of that in the book - magic! - but it was a bit dull instead. I did read it to my kids for the information, but it's not one I'll add to our collection for next year.
Dec 26, 2011 Teri rated it really liked it
Shelves: winter
LOVED reading this ON December 22nd and learning all about the winter solstice. Really fun to see that many Christmas traditions like evergreen wreathes began as symbols in the winter solstice celebrations. There are ideas for solstice activities in the back of the book--like measuring your shadow at noon, because it is the longest it will be all year. Really valuable book in my opinion--we'll certainly be revisiting it.
Alexandra Chauran
Dec 29, 2013 Alexandra Chauran rated it it was amazing
This book was better than I thought it would be! My library hold finally went through after placing it months ago. This book will be a must-have next winter solstice. The artwork was wonderful, many cultures were covered including several Pagan ones, and I was pleasantly surprised with activities in the back of the book. A recipe, birdfeeders, and several science experiments. My kids will love these!
2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge: A book you can finish in a day.
Wysteria Jackson
Feb 04, 2016 Wysteria Jackson rated it liked it
Educational, yes. Boring...totally.
Jan 11, 2014 Heather rated it it was ok
4 1/2 - not the best book for small kids on this topic but it fit the bill for a brief discussion of the shortest day this Dec 21st. Next year I'll have to find something that does the job a bit better.
Jan 05, 2011 Susan rated it liked it
A better winter solstice book than some. I also like that it has activities in the back - how to make a sunrise/sunset chart, measure shadows, have a winter solstice party and have a party for the birds
Jan 07, 2011 Ami rated it really liked it
Shelves: winter, 2011
The pastel drawings are fabulous, and it's a good survey of global acknowledgement of the solstices (and equinoxes). Has a nice activities section at the back too.
Maren Prestegaard
Dec 22, 2013 Maren Prestegaard rated it liked it
Shelves: christmas
Good facts for an elementary read but doesn't inspire the kind of magic that Winter Solstice really should.
Jan 17, 2010 Mary rated it liked it
This is another book that I am reading with my girls and that is why it is under the reading column
Roslyn Ross
Dec 24, 2011 Roslyn Ross rated it liked it
At least it doesn't lie to children, but it's really not that captivating either.
Jan 07, 2010 Emma rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-picture
Very informative book about the Winter Solstice.
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Wendy Pfeffer is an award winning author of many children’s books. A former teacher and nursery school director, Mrs. Pfeffer lives in Pennington, New Jersey. In addition to writing, she continues to teach writing and visit schools to share her work.
More about Wendy Pfeffer...

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