Polar bears are such fascinating animals. They are huge and sensitive, incredible swimmers, and adept hunters. In the winter months, we usually learn about polar bears in my preschool classroom, and over the years, I’ve gathered some great books to go along with our exploration. As always, my book reviews are only done with books I have read, and sometimes I share why I have reservations about a book too, in this list of books about polar bears for preschool I share books I love and others I have a hard time with. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this list too!
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The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett I debated including this book in my list. Yes, the artwork is incredible, yes the story is a twist on Goldilocks and the three bears, but something didn’t sit right. I wondered as a white teacher if the elements of Inuit culture were shared correctly, I wondered about cultural appropriation, and I didn’t know why my gut wasn’t feeling good. I love Jan Brett, but I have reservations about a white woman writing a book about an Inuit culture’s twist on a fairytale. You may disagree and fall into the group of educators that see this as an honor, but I just have a nagging feeling in my gut. When that happens, I usually check out Dr. Debbie Reese’s website American Indians in Children’s Literature for any info. I did find an interesting letter to the author that supported my gut feeling as well as comments that opposed it if you have the time to pop over and check it out.
Polar Bear Island by Lindsay Bonilla is a fantastic book. Sent to me by the publisher, this book is a kid-friendly look at immigration, innovation, and what it means to be inclusive. I absolutely love this book because it doesn’t shame Kirby the polar bear for being against change, it accepts that change is hard but also beautiful.
The Lonesome Polar Bear by Jane Cabrera is a lovely book about a little polar bear who’s only friends are a snow cloud and snow animals, and they all keep melting away. The book has an important message about not giving up hope and to keep trying to make friends, a lesson that is worthwhile for everyone. The illustrations are charming, and my son (who was a toddler when we read it )loved it!
Polar Bears by Susan Canizares is a perfect addition to your science area. This little non-fiction book allows young preschoolers to explore polar bears for just a few minutes ( or longer if they choose) with limited text. The photos show all different things that polar bears do, from nursing to sliding, napping to sleeping. There is a little more text at the end of the book with some facts for teachers. I like using this book with my arctic ice sensory play as a way for my students to connect the polar bear figurines with real polar bears.
Santa Claus and the Three Bears by Maria Modugno is a holiday version of Goldilocks and The Three Bears with Santa standing in for Goldilocks and a family of polar bears instead of grizzlies. I really liked this book. It doesn’t stray too far from the original other than the character substitutions, but the changes are delightful, as are the illustrations. This book will have you and your children reaching for hot cocoa and candy canes!
Polar Bear Night by Lauren Thompson is a beautiful book. Like Snow Bear, a polar bear cub goes on an adventure, but this one is in the middle of the night. As the cub walks past sleeping creatures, a “star shower” lights up the night sky. I assume this is the Northern Lights, but that’s just my assumption. I love how the little bear sees his world in a new light both literally and figuratively and then returns home to his mom’s warm fur. I love the pictures by Stephen Savage, they make readers feel like they are in the dark, cold tundra as much as they make you feel like you are witnessing the incredible Northern Lights.
Poles Apart by Jeanne Willis is my newest book purchase. As a preschool teacher, it drives me bonkers when people make crafts or stories where a polar bear and penguins are friends unless like in Poles Apart, they specifically talk about how these two animals live on opposite ends of the earth. This story is hilarious and perfect for a PreK class. In the story, the penguin family gets a little lost and ends up in the Arctic. There, a friendly polar bear helps them get back home but not before they have an epic adventure through multiple countries. I love the travel aspect to this story and following up a read-aloud with a map activity would be perfect! I love this book!