Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)

13 Picture Books for a Rainy Day

These books feature characters who find joy in rainy-day activities from looking for worms to emulating a classic song by singing (and dancing) in the rain.

March 28, 2024
PeopleImages / iStock

During our kindergarten morning meeting, one of the daily questions was “What is the weather today?” I once had a kindergarten student who felt that looking out the window didn’t provide enough reliable information for him to answer this question; he knew the weather had a habit of changing, and he wanted an official report.

One day he arrived at school with the weather forecast clipped from the newspaper, and he stood up during morning meeting to share the complete weather report. Every day after that, he arrived with the forecast, and because he spoke with such authority, no other children asked for this job; I think we were all in awe that we had our own “meteorologist.”

If I had to wager a guess, this child’s passion project was also an attempt to seek out a definitive answer to another question asked twice a day, “Are we going outside or to the gym for recess?” As recess drew near, students would begin looking out the window to evaluate the weather, and their immediate declarations would frequently reveal their allegiance to Team Outside or Team Inside.

Why do children care about the weather? They care because they know that events such as rain affect beloved plans like recess, and young children feel great comfort in knowing what the plans are and aren’t. Children need to consider possible scenarios and available resources, and ideally they should have the time to process and evaluate potential activities in order to positively respond to new and/or unexpected changes in routines.

Tap Tap Boom Boom book cover
Courtesy of publisher

The picture books below feature joyous indoor and outdoor rainy-day activities. From the perspective of the social and emotional learning framework from CASEL (the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning), reading through this collection of books offers a unique ongoing opportunity to discuss responsible decision-making as a series of individual and/or collective responses to a rainy day. Reading these books, children and adults can begin to consider rainy-day outdoor activities, such as hunting for worms, dancing with an umbrella, or creating a “rain garden.”

Indoor activities can include dancing, drawing pictures, and imaginative play. Assembling a rainy-day classroom library and sharing these titles with parents/caregivers can assist children in adjusting their expectations and perspectives, as these books share inspiring messages of rainy-day adventures and opportunities for creativity. 

13 picture books for a rainy day

Rain, by Carol Thompson. A young child with a plush pink bunny joyously romps in the rain. (Preschool)

Druthers, by Matt Phelan. On a rainy day, Penelope is bored. Her father asks, “If you had your druthers, what would you do?” Penelope learns about “druthers,” and with a bit of imagination, she and her father make all of her wishes come true. There’s an interesting author’s note about the story on the publisher’s website. (Preschool–kindergarten)

Are You Ready to Play Outside? An Elephant and Piggie Book, by Mo Willems. Piggie’s sunny-day plans are dashed when it begins to rain. Fortunately, Piggie and his friend Gerald quickly discover that rainy days can also be a delight. A corresponding educator guide is available on the publisher’s website. (Preschool–kindergarten)

Rainy Days, by Deborah Kerbel, illustrated by Miki Sato. Each page features young children engaging in different rainy-day activities. There are suggested science experiments at the end of the book, and corresponding teaching guides on the publisher’s website. (Preschool–kindergarten)

Worm Weather, by Jean Taft, illustrated Matt Hunt. A rainy day brings siblings out to play and worms up from the ground. A corresponding read-aloud is available on the publisher’s website. (Preschool–kindergarten)

Who Likes Rain? by Wong Herbert Yee. A young child heads out on a rainy-day walk to consider the sights and sounds associated with rain. (Preschool–grade 1)

Singing in the Rain book cover
Courtesy of publisher

Singing in the Rain, based on the song by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, illustrated by Tim Hopgood. In this sing-along book, children sing and dance through the rain—first through the city and then transported via umbrellas they sing and dance through the rainforest. (Preschool–grade 2)

Puddle, by Hyewon Yum. A child who “hates” rainy days, and a clever mother who loves to draw, collaborate on a series of drawings about a rainy-day walk. (Preschool–grade 2)

Sunny-Side Up, by Jacky Davis, illustrated by Fiona Woodcock. On a rainy day, a young girl occupies herself with numerous indoor activities. There are corresponding activity guides on the publisher’s website. (Preschool–grade 2)

Tap Tap Boom Boom, by Elizabeth Bluemle, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. A sudden rainstorm prompts a crowd of people to seek refuge in a subway station to wait out the storm. (Preschool–grade 2)

A Place for Rain book cover
Courtesy of publisher

A Place for Rain, by Michelle Schaub, illustrated by Blanca Gómez. Rainy-day questions at school create an opportunity for a collaborative problem-solving endeavor featuring a barrel and a rain spout that ultimately water a newly planted wildflower garden. Directions for making a “rain garden” are included at the end of the book. A corresponding educator’s guide is available on the author’s website.  (Preschool–grade 3)

Big Sister, Long Coat, by Nelly Buchet, illustrated by Rachel Katstaller. A little sister’s plans for a day out with her sister do not go as expected when there’s a sudden rainstorm. What begins as a series of disappointments transforms into a series of new adventures. (Preschool–grade 3)

This Beautiful Day, by Richard Jackson, illustrated by Suzy Lee. A little music elevates the spirits of three siblings on a rainy day, prompting them to grab umbrellas and rain boots and head out to dance in the rain. (Preschool–grade 3)

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  • Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)
  • English Language Arts
  • Pre-K
  • K-2 Primary

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