The Saint Nicholas Day Snow by Charlotte Riggle

Saint Nicholas Day is an exciting time for many children around the world. On Saint Nicholas Day friends and families gather together, exchange small gifts, share a meal, and attend Mass. The Saint Nicholas Day Snow by Charlotte Riggle is a children's book that describes how a young girl named Elizabeth spends Saint Nicholas Day at a friend's house. Keep reading to learn more about The Saint Nicholas Day Snow and how you can use it during your language arts and social studies instruction.

Learn about Saint Nicholas and the Saint Nicholas Day traditions in The Saint Nicholas Day Snow written by Charlotte Riggle. #kellysclassroomonline

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Author's Summary

The Saint Nicholas Day Snow begins on the morning of St. Nicholas Eve. Catherine's best friend, Elizabeth, is coming for a sleepover. They'll share a day filled with warm cookies, squabbles with siblings, holiday traditions, and the excitement of an unexpected snowstorm. It's all familiar, comfortable, and delightful. And yet Elizabeth is worried. She's spending the night with Catherine because her grandmother is ill, and her parents are heading to the hospital to see her. The brief references to Elizabeth's grandmother in the main story are developed into a fully realized wordless story-within-a-story in the corner of each spread. Both stories are filled with kindness, prayer, faith, and love. And snow. At the end of the day, the girls set out their shoes (with apples and carrots for St. Nicholas's horse), and their parents pray and keep vigil for Elizabeth's grandmother. All of them, in the end, receive joy.

🍎 TitleThe Saint Nicholas Day Snow
🍎 Author: Charlotte Riggle
🍎 Illustrator: R.J. Hughes
🍎 Publisher: Phoenix Flare Press
🍎 Date: October 17, 2017
🍎 Pages: 48

Learn about Saint Nicholas and the Saint Nicholas Day traditions in The Saint Nicholas Day Snow written by Charlotte Riggle. #kellysclassroomonline

Reading The Saint Nicholas Day Snow

Reading The Saint Nicholas Day Snow with your students is a fun way to get students excited about the December holiday season.  Your students will love looking at the illustrations and learning about Saint Nicholas Day and how it's celebrated.  They will also enjoy comparing it to some of the holidays they may celebrate with their families.  There is a lot to unpack with The Saint Nicholas Day Snow so if you are going to read it with your students, I suggest reading it over a period of a couple of days and reading it multiple times.

Learn about Saint Nicholas and the Saint Nicholas Day traditions in The Saint Nicholas Day Snow written by Charlotte Riggle. #kellysclassroomonline

First Reading

When introducing a new picture book to my students, I like to do a quick picture walk to preview the story.  Having the opportunity to study and talk about the illustrations ahead of time helps students to make sense of what they will be reading or listening to.  This will be particularly important when reading The Saint Nicholas Day Snow because there are actually TWO storylines in the book  The main storyline is contained within the text and main illustrations.  The secondary storyline occurs in the smaller illustrations in the lower-left corners.  

Before reading The Saint Nicholas Day Snow, cover those illustrations in the left corners with post-its.  Doing so will enable your students to focus on one storyline at a time while you picture-walk and read the story.  Preview the pages with a picture walk like normal.  What do you see happening on the pages?  (Each double-page spread shows an event from the story, a church named for Saint Nicholas, and a drawing of what Saint Nicholas looks like in different parts of the world.)  Who are the characters in the story?  What can we learn about these characters?  What are they doing?  How are they feeling?  What can we learn about Saint Nicholas Day from the illustrations?  After you've had the opportunity to preview all of the pages, go ahead and read The Saint Nicholas Day Snow like you would normally read any story.  Keep the post-its in place until your next reading.

Learn about Saint Nicholas and the Saint Nicholas Day traditions in The Saint Nicholas Day Snow written by Charlotte Riggle. #kellysclassroomonline

Second Reading

During your first preview and reading of The Saint Nicholas Day Snow, the illustrations of the book's second storyline were covered with post-its.  Review what your students learned and remembered from that first reading.  Before reading the story again, take another picture walk through the illustrations, removing the post-its from each page as you talk about them.  What is happening in these illustrations?  What is going on with the grandmother?  How are the people in the illustrations feeling?  How do the illustrations in this storyline connect with the main story?  This would be a good time for some vocabulary development... these are parallel storylines that are happening simultaneously.
  • In parallel stories, two storylines run side-by-side.  Sometimes these storylines intersect.  Sometimes they don't.
  • Simultaneous means to exist and/or take place at the same time.
After your minilesson about parallel stories and your picture walk, read The Saint Nicholas Day Snow again.  What did your students notice this time that they didn't notice before?  How does knowing about the grandmother being in the hospital change the mood of the story?  Does it change their feelings about the events?  Are your students showing a sense of empathy for the characters they may not have demonstrated before?

Learn about Saint Nicholas and the Saint Nicholas Day traditions in The Saint Nicholas Day Snow written by Charlotte Riggle. #kellysclassroomonline

Geography and Map Skills

On the left-hand side of each double-page spread in The Saint Nicholas Day Snow, Charlotte Riggle included photographs of churches from all over the world that were named for Saint Nicholas.  Each photograph is marked with the city and country in which the churches can be found and the approximate years they were built.  Pull out a world map and some pushpins.  Work together with your students to find the city and country you live in.  Mark it with a pushpin.  Then work together to find the locations of these churches and mark them with pushpins as well.  How many locations did you mark?  Which continents and countries have the most churches named for Saint Nicholas?  Are there any locations on the map that surprise you?  After looking at the map with all of the locations marked on it, what questions do you have?  How can you find the answers to your questions?

Learn about Saint Nicholas and the Saint Nicholas Day traditions in The Saint Nicholas Day Snow written by Charlotte Riggle. #kellysclassroomonline

To learn more about Saint Nicholas, visit Charlotte Riggle's website and read her post called The Real St. Nicholas.   You can also listen to her read The Saint Nicholas Day Snow in this Youtube video:

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  1. Kelly, thanks for such a beautiful review! And the activities are wonderful. I love the way you suggest helping children understand the connections between the two story lines. Thank you!

    1. Hi Charli! You wrote a beautiful book and I was glad to write about it. I hope you had a nice Saint Nicholas Day with your family! <3

  2. Very helpful review. Really helped me to understand and learn more about this wonderful book. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I love all the ideas! I think we will have to go back and read it again :-) I love the St. Nicholas and Santa playmobil figures!! I've never seen that before

    1. Thanks Nadia! The Saint Nicholas Day Snow is definitely worth reading again and again!