It’s the first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere! While we still have weather in the 90s here and our leaves don’t really start to change until about Thanksgiving, I know many of you around the country are starting to pull out sweaters and sweatshirts, enjoying cooler mornings and evenings, and maybe even seeing some color on your trees. So, even though we don’t need to read books about changing seasons just yet in our house, I wanted to share some of our favorite fall books for those of you who may need them before we do. Read more to find our favorite fall picture books, some fall-ish books with fantastic social-emotional lessons, and board books for the littlest readers!
Favorite Fall Picture Books
Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead — The Steads create such wonderfully sweet friendship stories, and this is one of my favorites from the duo. Bear is an incredibly dedicated and selfless friend who has a story to tell, but puts his story on the backburner while he helps each of his friends prepare for winter. If you only buy one book from this list, you absolutely can’t go wrong with this one! You can read my full review here. Ages 2-6.
The Little Scarecrow Boy by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by David Diaz — If you recognize Margaret Wise Brown but aren’t sure why, it’s from her Goodnight Moon fame. I’m slowly starting to find more and more of Brown’s books (and more are still being published posthumously), and this is one of my favorites. A fast-moving story with some repeated text, readers will cheer for the little scarecrow boy as he learns to scare even the bravest crows. Ages 3-7.
Full of Fall by April Pulley Sayre — I love this one because of Sayre’s use of photographs. Full of Fall explains and illustrates the changes that leaves undergo during autumn, from changing colors to falling from trees and crumbling up. She also includes information at the back about the science behind these changes. Sayre has similar seasonal books for spring (Bloom Boom!), summer/rain (Raindrops Roll), and winter (Best in Snow). Ages 3-8.
Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert — This story is bound to inspire seasonal art projects of all sorts! Ehlert created collages using leaves, acorns, sticky gum balls, and more to share the adventures of Leaf Man. It’s truly incredible what she’s done with nature! Read this one with your children, walk around the neighborhood collecting things, and then see what your kids can create. Ages 4-7.
In the Middle of Fall by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek — I really just love Kevin Henkes. His stories are always so gentle and so relatable. And Laura Dronzek has illustrated this one with such rich color and bold lines that you feel like you’re right there in the pile of leaves. This is a terrific story to teach children about the transition from fall to winter. Ages 4-8.
Yellow Time by Lauren Stringer — We have a street in our neighborhood that is lined with bright yellow-leafed trees each fall. And each fall, it reminds me of the beauty of this book! Stringer manages to capture the excitement that children feel as leaves change color and fall to the ground (especially if you have children who love to toss the leaves in the air or rake piles to jump in!). Ages 4-8.
The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry, illustrated by The Fan Brothers — A beautifully illustrated story of the power of both loneliness and friendship from an incredible duo, this new addition is bound to make just about every list of wonderful fall books, and wonderful friendship books! Though this is written in rhyme, it reads with a gentle flow instead of a gallop, perfectly matching the tender story and soft illustrations. Ages 4-8.
Every Autumn Comes the Bear by Jim Arnosky — Written in 1996, somehow I only discovered this book this summer, and I’m here to tell you that it’s a winner! Written with simple text but gorgeously detailed illustrations, Every Autumn Comes the Bear tells the story of a bear preparing to hibernate. It’s informational and interesting yet reads like a story, making this perfect for a school unit on fall and/or hibernation. Ages 4-8.
Tidy by Emily Gravett — Tidy is funny story with a subtle, but strong, environmental message. Pete, the badger, likes to tidy and clean and keep everything neat… Problem is, he lives deep in the forest, and as you can imagine, the forest isn’t exactly easy to keep clean. Especially when the leaves start falling… Pete thinks he finds the perfect solution, until he tries to find a place to sleep. With a little teamwork and a lot of hard work, the forest goes back to the way it was, and with even more hard work, Pete learns to accept the mess of the forest. Ages 4-8.
Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Steve Jenkins — Another fall gem by Sayre, this one introduces readers to various types of squirrels and their habitats, diet, and what they do. It’s written in fun rhyme and illustrated brightly, sure to engage listeners and lookers. Ages 4-8.
The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg — I just love Chris Van Allsburg. The way he magically draws readers in and surprises them with a twist of fate gets me every time. In this story, Farmer Bailey invites a stranger into his house, only to realize that things outside have drastically changed. Could the stranger be Jack Frost, and will winter ever come? You can read my mini review here. Ages 6 and up.
Fabulous Fall Books with Strong Social-Emotional Lessons
Otis and the Scarecrow by Loren Long — Whether you know the Otis books or not, this story of friendship and kindness is bound to appeal to you. When the farmer brings someone new to the farm – a scarecrow – Otis and his friends aren’t quite sure what to make of it. It doesn’t quite fit in, and it doesn’t seem welcoming at all. But when the new scarecrow is in need of company, Otis steps up anyway. Ages 3-7.
Sweep by Louise Greig, illustrated by Júlia Sardà — Only a fall story in that it involves leaves, Sweep packs a strong social lesson about what can happen when bad moods grow and grow. It’s a beautifully illustrated story bound to be a conversation starter about recognizing and dealing with emotions, rather than trying to simply sweep them away. Ages 4-8.
Little Tree by Loren Long — I always love a seasonal book that can be read year-round, and much like Sweep, Little Tree is a wonderful fall book that isn’t so fall-themed it can only be read in September and October. A story of change, growing up, and letting go, a story of encouraging friends through words, presence, and patience, Little Tree will please children and adults alike! Ages 5-8.
Fantastic Fall Board Books for Your Youngest Readers
Baby Loves Fall by Karen Katz — When our girls were little, they absolutely loved all of Karen Katz’s lift-the-flap books. She’s got one for just about every season and occasion. This fall-themed book introduces young readers to elements of fall such as apple pie, corns, warm hats, and more. Her books are well-made and the flaps hold up pretty well year after year!
I Love Fall by Alison Inches, illustrated by Hiroe Nakata — What small child doesn’t love a rhyming book that ALSO includes touch-and-feel elements? They all do! With textures for scarves, baskets, and more, this is bound to be one your toddler grabs over and over (and over) again.
Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell, illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell — You may have seen this one on our list of favorite apple books, and it’ll show up on our Halloween list as well. It’s sweet, it’s simple, it’s relatable, and it’s all about two of our favorite fall activities: picking apples and pumpkins!
Snuggle Time Fall Blessings by Glenys Nellist, illustrated by Cee Biscoe — We discovered Nellist a few Christmases ago, with her ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas, and I am so glad I connected with her to continue to discover her absolutely delightful books for children. This one is part of the larger “Snuggle Time” series and highlights various things one might be thankful for in the fall, such as cooler weather, bonfires and s’mores, apple picking, colored leaves, and more.
Leaves by David Ezra Stein — This is a charming story of a bear who doesn’t understand why the leaves are falling from the trees during his first autumn. In fact, he tries to reattach them to the trees! Young readers follow his endearing journey from fall to hibernating in the winter to awakening and finding fresh growth on the trees in spring. It’s gentle, funny, and widely appealing to young audiences!
What are your favorite books to read as the weather starts to cool? Do you and your family love fall and all that comes with it (like football and sweaters!), or do you mourn for long summer days when autumn rolls around?
If you liked this list, be sure to check out:
- Our favorite apple-themed books
- This post, this post, this post, and this post about Chris Van Allsburg’s books– they’re perfect October reads!