From funny children’s picture books starring groundhogs to engaging nonfiction books that teach about this interesting American tradition, these are some of the best Groundhog Day books for children. Parents and teachers can use these suggestions as quick entertaining read-alouds or as part of more structured literature-based lessons for this February holiday.
Children’s Fiction Books About Groundhog’s Day
Come February 2, parents and teachers can use these Groundhog Day stories with boys and girls to talk about themes such as overcoming fears, fulfilling responsibilities, cooperating with others, and solving problems. From them, you can also bridge to science lessons (about topics such as recognizing signs of spring, how people predict the weather, how and why animals hibernate, and the characteristics and life cycles of groundhogs) or social studies lessons about how people celebrate special days.
A charming story with acrylic and ink illustrations that perfectly capture the feel of a snow-filled winter’s day, Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox by Susan Blackaby with illustrations by Carmen Segovia [Sterling: 2011; ISBN: 978-1-4027-4336-8] uses the event of a groundhog spying her shadow to kick off the tale of two creatures who begin as adversaries and then bond over how hard it is to wait for something, especially spring.
In Mr. Groundhog Wants the Day Off by Pat Stemper Vojta with illustrations by Olga Levitskiy [Raven Tree Press: 2010; ISBN: 978-1-934960-79-0], Mr. Groundhog, tired of being blamed for a late spring, tries to find a friend to take his place on Groundhog Day. Though all of his friends turn out to be either unwilling or unable to stand in his place, they do provide him with the encouragement and the props he needs to perform his duties after all.
Comprehensively educational and uniquely entertaining, Groundhog Weather School by Joan Holub with illustrations by Kristin Sorra [G. P. Putnam’s Sons: 2009; ISBN: 978-0-399-24659-3] combines a graphic novel storyline about a school for teaching groundhogs to predict the weather accurately with clever illustrations including diagrams, maps, charts, and sidebars. Every kid from preschoolers to early elementary students will enjoy learning facts about the seasons, shadows, ways things found in nature predict the weather, and groundhogs.
A bouncy read-aloud that will appeal to kids as young as toddlers, Ten Grouchy Groundhogs by Kathryn Heling with illustrations by Deborah Hembrook [Cartwheel: 2009; ISBN: 978-0-545-13414-9] uses rhyming text, active verbs, and alliteration to narrate how ten groundhogs exit their den one by one and then dive back in, grouchy no more, after seeing their shadows.
In Double Trouble Groundhog Day by Bethany Roberts with illustrations by Lorinda Bryan Cauley [Henry Holt and Company: 2008; ISBN: 978-0-8050-8280-7], Grampie decides to retire and pass his job down to one of his grandchildren. After some squabbling, Gregory is chosen, but in the end he finds that he needs help from his twin sister, Greta, to do the job properly.
When Groundhog gets sick in the cute and quirky story Substitute Groundhog by Pat Miller with illustrations by Kathi Ember [Albert Whitman & Company: 2006; ISBN: 978-0-8075-7644-1], he must figure out which of his friends has the necessary characteristics to be able to perform his job in his place. In a surprise ending, visiting Armadillo turns out to be the perfect stand-in. Parents and teachers can use this story to teach problem-solving strategies, how to compare and contrast animals, and how to make predictions.
Full of a mischievous spirit that many young children will be able to relate to, Groundhog refuses to go hibernate when he is supposed to in Groundhog Stays Up Late by Margery Cuyler with illustrations by Jean Cassels [Walker & Company: 2005; ISBN: 0-8027-8940-4]. Like the Grasshopper in Aesop’s fable, Groundhog spends his time playing instead of preparing for hibernation, and he resorts to tricking his friends and pretending that spring has come early once he becomes hungry and in need of shelter. Parents and teachers can use this story to help children practice analyzing characters and to discuss themes such as fairness and what it means to be a friend.
Though the position has always been held by boys before, through perseverance and the use of her keen senses, Phyllis convinces her Uncle Phil to appoint her the next groundhog to predict the weather in Punxsutawney Phyllis by Susanna Leonard Hill with illustrations by Jeffrey Ebbeler [Holiday House: 2005; ISBN: 0-8234-1872-3].
Unable to settle to sleep, the hero of the very funny Go to Sleep, Groundhog! by Judy Cox with illustrations by Paul Meisel [Holiday House: 2004; ISBN: 0-8234-1645-3] keeps popping out of bed to experience the various fall and winter holidays that he usually sleeps through. Kids will enjoy seeing him tucked back into bed by a witch, a turkey, and even Santa Claus, and parents and teachers can teach information about Groundhog Day itself by using the final event and an informative author’s note at the book’s end as a jumping-off point for further discussion.
In The Secret of the First One Up by Iris Hiskey Arno with illustrations by RenÃ©e Graef [NorthWord Press: 2003; ISBN: 1-55971-867-6], a little girl groundhog learns from her Uncle Wilbur that she will discover the truth behind an important family secret if she is the first one to wake up in spring. Suitable for preschoolers, kindergartners, and early elementary students, this picture book can be used as a focus for lessons discussing science topics such as hibernation, the first signs of spring, and whether or not groundhogs are accurate in predicting when spring will come. It ends with an author’s note about the historical traditions behind this holiday.
In this warm and thoughtful tale published years after his death, author-illustrator Don Freeman tells the story in Gregory’s Shadow [Viking: 2000; ISBN: 0-670-89328-5] of how Gregory relies on his friend Shadow to feel brave but must deal first with being separated from Shadow and then with figuring out how to stay near Shadow yet not disappoint the farmers by telling them that spring will be late.
Like her ancestors before her, the heroine of Gretchen Groundhog, It’s Your Day! by Abby Levine with illustrations by Nancy Cote [Albert Whitman & Company: 1998; ISBN: 0-8075-3058-1] must find the courage to Go Out on February 2, moving this tale beyond a simple look at what a groundhog does on Groundhog’s Day to an exploration of how people feel when needing to overcome the fear of trying something new for the first time.
An older, out-of-print cumulative tale, Wake Up, Groundhog! by Carol Cohen [Crown: 1975; ISBN: 0-517-516934] uses gentle humor and entertaining onomatopoeia to narrate the lengths to which Mr. Groundhog’s new neighbor Miss Pigeon goes to try to wake him up before learning that is the season of spring, not a collection of clocks and bells, that will rouse this kind of mammal.
Children’s Nonfiction Books About Groundhog’s Day
Stock a home or classroom library with a few of these nonfiction picture books and either read excerpts from them or allow kids to do their own research to learn more about subjects such as the history of traditional festivals scheduled to mark the coming of spring, other animals believed to be able to predict the weather, how the real mammals we call groundhogs (or woodchucks or whistling pigs or marmots) live, the turning of the seasons, and weather forecasting.
Groundhog Day from the Pebble Plus: Let’s Celebrate Series [by Clara Cella; Capstone Press: 2013; ISBN: 978-1-4296-8731-7] uses large photographs and simple text to cover not just what happens during this February holiday but specifically why the day is important and how people celebrate it. Nonfiction text features include a table of contents, headings, a pronunciation key, a glossary, and an index. Content covered includes what a rodent is and what people in old Europe did during Candlemas. This book works well to introduce younger children to basic concepts about the holiday and can also be read aloud easily by beginning readers.
Small-sized for little hands but packed with rich information carefully written to be understandable by early readers, Groundhog Day from the Rookie Read-About Holidays series [by Michelle Aki Becker; Children’s Press: 2003; ISBN: 0-516-25883-4] provides a nice introduction to the holiday for kindergartners and early elementary students. Nonfiction text features include maps, pronunciation keys, photographs, illustrations, a picture glossary, and an index. Topics covered include a few facts about groundhogs, what happens when Phil does or does not see his shadow, and some information about Punxsutawney.
Groundhog Day from the Celebrations in My World series [by Lynn Peppas; Crabtree Publishing Company: 2011; ISBN: 978-0-7787-4926-4] presents facts about the holiday in a slightly more complex way, mixing a great amount of text with photographs, captions, a map, and fact boxes. It also contains a table of contents, headings, a quiz, a glossary, and an index. Topics covered include the life of a groundhog, hibernation, the season of winter, Candlemas customs, Punxsutawney Phil and the community in which he lives, similar celebrations related to predicting the coming of spring, and even the Bill Murray movie.
As beautifully illustrated as her other nonfiction works, Gail Gibbons’ Groundhog Day! [Holiday House: 2007; ISBN: 978-0-8234-2003-2] skips a bit back and forth between various topics, covering the history of spring festivals in vague outline, going into more detail about how and where groundhogs live, discussing what happens in Punxsutawney on February 2 (revealing the artifice behind the tradition), and touching on some ways kids might celebrate this special day. Nonfiction text features include labels, captions, cross-section diagrams of a groundhog’s skull and a typical burrow, maps, and a series of illustrated facts about Groundhog Day and groundhogs.
The engaging text and cartoony illustrations of The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun by Wendie Old with illustrations by Paige Billin-Frye [Albert Whitman & Company: 2004; ISBN: 978-0-8075-3066-5] help entertain kids while they learn detailed science and social studies information about the life cycle of groundhogs, hibernation, the cycle of the seasons, traditional spring festivals, and the history of how the holiday of Groundhog Day started. Dense with information, it is best shared as a series of read-alouds spread out over several days or as a resource for researching Groundhog’s Day topics. Features include a table of contents, silly groundhog riddles, and a chapter full of ideas for a Groundhog’s Day party (crafts for Groundhog Day, games, science activities, and so on).