As adults, it’s easy to forget the joys of snow when we’re worrying about driving on icy roads. Many children associate snow with no school, sledding, and snowball fights. Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin introduces kids to a whole new world of wonder: the unique and beautiful snowflake.

Combining Cultural Lessons: History, Science, & Art


A child’s curiosity can harness a wealth of cultural interests. Snowflake Bentley celebrates this love of cultural learning by combining history, science and art without boring the reader. The narrative is based on the true story of Wilson Bentley, who caught and photographed of snowflakes in the early 1900s (just as cameras were becoming popular). Some kids may be unaware of how recently humans discovered the symmetry and uniqueness of each individual snowflake before this short history.

In addition, the story illustrates snowflakes’ visual and scientific beauty. Martin simplifies the science of how snowflakes are created as well as their delicate nature. She compares snowflakes to more obvious beauties such as flowers and butterflies, but also includes Bentley’s actual photographs within the text.

By presenting Bentley’s story in various lights, Martin taps into the child reader’s multifaceted interests and shows them to be fun and worthy undertakings.

The Joy of Meaningful Work

One of the themes of Snowflake Bentley is that work is its own reward. Bentley spends years perfecting the art of photographing snowflakes and although he does not make a fortune on the practice, his work was groundbreaking in his time. At no point in the story does Martin depict Bentley at begrudging the effort he makes to produce his beautiful photographs. Instead, he findsjoy in meaningful work all the way up to his death.

Recommended Audience

This story is long for your average children’s picture book. In addition, the themes may go over younger children’s heads. Therefore, the ideal audience for Snowflake Bentley are kindergarten and first great students. These children will also be able to participate in other activities associated with the book, such as creating their own paper snowflakes.

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