We are fortunate to live close to many opportunities to pick fresh fruits, and we try to take advantage of that whenever we can — we love berry picking in early summer, we visit pumpkin farms in October, and we pick apples each September. And, of course, I love to create a good themed bookshelf to help the girls get excited about whatever we’re picking next. Even though we’ve been reading some of these for going on 7 years now, we still love pulling them out each fall — and we always have an amazing time picking apples!
Below, you’ll find both fiction and nonfiction titles, as well as books for a range of ages, so hopefully you’ll find a great book for your family’s or classroom’s needs!
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How Do Apples Grow? by Betsy Maestro, illustrated by Giulio Maestro — This book, mainly about how fruit comes from flowers, is a very informative text of the life of an apple tree through the seasons, starting in winter when the tree is bare, and ending in fall with the tree losing leaves. In between , readers learn all about apple trees, nectar, fertilization, parts of flowers, and more. Ages 4-8.
Apples by Gail Gibbons — Basically, if you need an informational book about just about any subject for kids ages 4-8, Gail Gibbons probably has a pretty good one for you. Apples is no exception! Ages 4-8.
Fiction for younger readers:
Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell, illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell — This was one of the first apple-themed books I bought when our oldest was a baby, and we still love it. If you pick apples, go to pumpkin patches, or simply love fall, this sweet board book may be perfect for you and your little ones. Ages 2-5.
Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship by Edward Hemingway — Children will appreciate the sweet friendship between Mac the Apple and Will the Worm. Adults will laugh at the puns that will likely go over the intended audiences’ heads (Mac could bob in the swimming pool for hours, Will is a bookworm, etc), but hey, sometimes that’s what makes a good read-aloud, right? Hemingway closes the book with a sweet reminder about the importance of friendship and what truly makes us good or rotten. Ages 3-5.
An Apple Pie for Dinner retold by Susan VanHecke, illustrated by Carol Baicker-McKee — VanHecke’s retelling an old English folktale about an apple dumpling will likely have your kids giggling about what “Granny Smith” has to go through to get apples to make her pie. What stands out here, though, are the mixed-media collage illustrations, which may inspire budding artists to gather their own materials to make pictures. VanHecke includes an apple pie recipe at the back. Ages 3-6.
Apple Cake: A Gratitude by Dawn Casey, illustrated by Genevieve Godbout — Though this simple rhyming story is aimed at the youngest audiences, the recipe for apple cake in the back is bound to please the whole family! In fact, we plan to make this apple cake after we pick apples this week, so stay tuned for a review of the cake itself. But, as for the story, it’s gentle and sweet and is a true celebration of how nature works together to give us the things we need. The illustrations are simple and joyful and will bring smiles to your faces. Ages 3-6.
Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington — “Annie is an apple farmer,” and Apple Farmer Annie is the story of Annie, her farm, her apples, and her work. The illustrations that closely accompany the story are shown opposite the corresponding text. Bordering each text are clusters of themed illustrations that can drive all sorts of conversations, from identifying various road signs to money to ways group and count numbers to 10. Wellington includes recipes for both muffins and applesauce at the back. Ages 3-7.
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman — This fall, this has been by far our most-requested apple-themed book on our shelf. My girls just love the absolutely ridiculous lengths to which the narrator goes in order to make her apple pie… It has them laughing out loud throughout most of it! And as an added bonus, we’ve gotten some geography out of it, too! I mean, why else would my children know where Sri Lanka is? Priceman includes an apple pie receipe at the back. Ages 3-7.
Rain Makes Applesauce by Julian Scheer, illustrated by Marvin Bileck — Okay, this books is truly a completely silly, nonsensical one, but it’s a work of art that is bound to make audiences of all ages giggle. First published in 1964 and winner of a Caldecott Honor Medal, these illustrations invite you to come back again and again and delight over their details. No, there’s not really much about apples or applesauce in here, but the refrain “and rain makes applesauce” is repeated on every single page… And celebrated in the end! Ages 4-8.
Applesauce Season by Eden Ross Lipson, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein — Yes, this is a story about applesauce, but it’s about so much more than just applesauce. A story of family traditions and extended family time, Applesauce Season brings generations together to make their seasonal applesauce, starting with the first batch just as school is starting, and ending in December, when “there are no more new kinds of apples.” I also just love Gerstein’s illustrations (you can read my mini review of The Man Who Walked Between the Towers here), and his contributions to this book are no exception. Lipson includes an applesauce recipe at the back. Ages 4-8.
Amelia Bedelia’s First Apple Pie by Herman Parish, illustrated by Lynne Avril — I am admittedly not a huge Amelia Bedelia fan… But, this “Amelia Bedelia’s First…” series has grown on me a bit, starting with this book which my girls absolutely love! Unlike the Amelia Bedelia books you may remember from your childhood, this series features Amelia as a child, and in this particular story, she’s spending the day with her loving grandparents. The misunderstandings and puns still abound, but no one gets hurt and no permanent damage is done. Parish includes an apple pie recipe at the back, which we tried this year! Ages 4-8.
Ten Red Apples by Pat Hutchins — Hutchins’s apple story is just begging to be read aloud with a group of young kids. It’s a counting story with a predictably rhythm and repeated refrains, and children are bound to join in after just a few pages. Hutchins’s illustrations feel like puppets, allowing me to imagine them bounding and moving across the page. Ages 4-8.
The Apple Pie that Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Jonathan Bean — Written in the rhythm and model of “the house that Jack built” and illustrated with a very vintage feel, this simple story is full of action and detail! My girls love to tell the story that unfolds in the illustrations, such as on the wordless pages, or adding to the text (“The girl even wanted to help pick apples, so she’s standing on the horse! Look at her standing on the horse!” is what they see when the text says, “This is teh tree, crooked and strong”). This is one you’ll come back to again and again and spend time noticing details! Ages 5-8.
One Green Apple by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Ted Lewin — This book was on my list of favorite school stories for social-emotional growth a few weeks ago, so it gets bonus points from me for being a story that can be read year-round, but also being worthy of making not one but two themed shelves! One Green Apple tells the story of an immigrant in a new school in a new country, specifically, the story of her second day. Though she has a language barrier preventing her from conversing with her new classmates, she eventually finds ways to connect with them nonverbally. Bunting has a phenomenal gift to pack powerful messages into simple stories, and One Green Apple is one of my favorite stories of hers. I also love that this book, published in 2006, showcases a Muslim immigrant and is so incredibly relevant still today. Ages 5-9.
One Red Apple by Harriet Ziefert, illustrated by Karla Gudeon — I absolutely love Gudeon’s illustrations in this! Her illustrations are simple but full of color, and often bordered by something that mirrors the text. And be sure to check out the end papers here! Ziefert’s text is short and to the point, but aptly walks readers through the way nature and growing cycles work to bring us everyday things such as one red apple. Ages 6 and up.
Our favorite Johnny Appleseed book:
Johnny Appleseed: A Tall Tale Retold by Steven Kellogg — There are many, many versions of Johnny Appleseed out there, but this one is my favorite. I love Kellogg’s illustrations, and he does a great job with the text of informing his audience while keeping his tall tale engaging and moving. Ages 4 and up.
We then went home and made some delicious applesauce and an apple pie (we used the recipe in the back of our Amelia Bedelia’s First Apple Pie book). My younger daughter absolutely loves to help in the kitchen, and she peeled every single one of the apples for the pie with our peeler (hello arm and wrist strengthening!).
Did I miss any? What are your favorite apple-themed books to read with children, or apple recipes?