As summer comes to a close and autumn looms on the horizon parents and teachers are often on the hunt for picture books to help describe the changes of the season. There are some great books about the seasons, and some that are less than stellar. Here are some of my favorite books about autumn for children through eight years old, particularly for reading aloud.
Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White is the story of Rebecca Estelle. She hates pumpkins, you would too if that was all you could afford to eat growing up. When Rebecca is older, a truck drops a pumpkin in her yard, leaving behind a squashy mess. She buries the mess to avoid having to look at it, and ignores the sprouts and growth that result. To her shock and dismay, Rebecca discovers a bumper crop in the fall. Too Many Pumpkins details her varied uses of the orange squash, and her discovery that pumpkins might not be so bad after all.
In November by Cynthia Rylant gives readers an idea of the various activities and traditions that the cooling temperatures of November bring. The preparations for winter are beautifully described in poetic verse, with brilliant illustrations from Jill Kastner to match. I loved the little mouse that peeks at the reader, and the fact that while a special day in November is described it is not specifically noted as Thanksgiving.
Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert is the story of a man made of leaves. He blows whichever way the wind moves him. On his journey, the leaf man sees the wonders and colors of autumn. The book is playful, colorful and a great way to share enjoyment in the natural world. The die cut pages feature illustrations that are colorful collages made from real fall leaves. The use of leaves in the story can encourage children to listen for rustling leaves, imagine, and even take on some leaf crafts.
Autumn is for Apples by Michelle Knudsen is a part of the Random House pictureback shape books series. There is little text, in rhyme, matched with illustrations that do great job together of showing the changes autumn brings to an apple orchard. A family spends the day picking apples and enjoying the crisp, fresh fall air. This is a simple story for younger readers, but the illustrations make it worthwhile for a great story to share aloud as fall approaches.
Apples and Pumpkins by Anne F. Rockwell is a classic. A little girl and her family spend the day looking for the right pumpkin and picking apples in order to prepare for Halloween. This book has words and pictures that compliment each other perfectly. I recommend a follow up of baking or craft activities, as many will match up wonderfully with the story, particularly if used in a classroom setting.
Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming is a warm-hearted book perfect for young children. Bear notices that fall is here and will soon change to winter. He hurries to tell his friend Snail, who tells Skunk, and so on. In a chain of critters looking out for each other and delaying bedtime just a little bit longer, each animal tells another until the already snoozing Bear is woken up with the news. The unique illustrations are brilliant, fluctuating from the fiery colors of fall leaves to the cozy feel of Bear in slumber.
Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelley is a fun story about a tree’s struggles with fall, which is the hardest of all seasons on trees. The young tree tries a variety of patterns and color combinations for its fall foliage, helping young children understand the changing of the seasons while laughing. The minimal, rhyming text and watercolor illustrations will bring a smile to readers of all ages.
Fall Leaves Fall! by Zoe Hall is the story of two brothers and the things that they love about fall. The focus is on the leaves, especially the colors and ways to play with them. There mention of hibernating animals and how leaves change through out the year. It is a cheery story with large illustrations, perfect for storytimes and classroom settings. It could also lead to some great fun outdoors!
The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri follows one busy little Squirrel as he works to ready himself for winter. He is far too busy to nibble a pumpkin with Mouse or run in the field with Dog, or play with any of the other animals. When everything is finally ready and the owl family invites him to watch the moon he has fallen fast asleep. Clearly defined illustrations and a refrain worth chanting make this a great storytime or classroom book.
Other books I recommend for explaining and enjoying the season include The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger, Possum’s Harvest Moon by Anne Hunter, Now It’s Fall by Lois Lenski, Mouse’s First Fall by Lauren Thompson, and I Know it’s Autumn by Eileen Spinelli.