Ah, fall… While I’d truly have a hard time naming my favorite season (for the record, it’s a toss-up between summer and fall…), I am always excited when fall rolls around. I love football and sweater season. I love the crunchy leaves under my feet. And I love the clear skies and breezy, cooler days.
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!
*** Affiliate links used. Most age ranges listed are publishers’ recommendations. Always remember that you know your child best, and thank you for considering making a purchase through my links!
Favorite Fall Picture Books
All Around Bustletown: Fall by Rotraut Susanne Berner — This is one of those wordless wonders that you ANd your kids will spend hours upon hours revisiting and rediscovering. Berner has stuffed this book with incredible detail while also telling the story of how Bustletown prepares for the onset of fall and the town’s Fall Fest. A dear book-loving friend loaned me her fall book knowing how much we’d love it, and now I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the All Around Bustletown series! Ages 2-5, but terrific for the older siblings and adults involved, too.
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.
Apple Cake: A Gratitude by Dawn Casey, illustrated by Genevieve Godbout — This super simple narrative comes to life through Godbout’s warm illustrations. The main character, we learn, is gathering ingredients to make cake, but along the way she stops to say “thank you” to everyone and everything that helps these ingredients to be. And, Casey includes a recipe for apple cake at the end, so if you’re looking to diversify your Thanksgiving desserts, be sure to check that out! Ages 3-5.
Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter by Kenard Pak — A perfect read for a late fall day, the book opens with two young siblings playing outside on a late fall day, surrounded by fauna and falling leaves. As they walk around their neighborhood, they warmly greet all that they see (leaves, setting sun, horse and sheep, and more… And each warmly greets them back, explaining how their behavior might change as fall transitions to winter. It’s beautifully illustrated and surprisingly informative! Ages 3-6.
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.
Sori’s Harvest Moon Day: A Story of Korea by Uk-Bae Lee — I was so excited to find this story out of South Korea this year, highlighting the annual celebration of the harvest moon. For this celebration, Sori and her family leave their home in the city to visit her grandmother’s village. Through this village’s celebration, we get a delightful insight into many of the South Korean traditions around harvest, including dancing, food, and parades. Unfortunately, this one is hard to get your hands on, but hopefully your library will have it! Ages 4-7.
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.
Lawrence in the Fall by Matthew Farina, illustrated by Doug Salati — A wonderful companion to Leaf Man, Lawrence in the Fall tells us the story of Lawrence, who is supposed to bring a collection to school to show his class. The problem is that Lawrence doesn’t collect anything. He doesn’t collect anything, that is, until he gets lost in the woods one fall day and notices the beautiful leaves around him. And what he goes on to do with them will warm your heart! 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.
Winter is Coming by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Jim LaMarche — This one is absolutely beautiful! LaMarche’s illustrations truly transport you to the narrator’s world, as seen on various days from her perch in a treehouse over the course of fall. I also love that her goal is to sketch nature as she sees it around her — I’d love for my girls to spend time modeling their quiet behaviors after this book! Ages 4-8.
In November by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Jill Kastner — So, this one’s less about fall and more about the full month of November, but it’s beautifully illustrated and wonderfully written. The part about Thanksgiving is simple and profound and will hopefully leave you thinking more about your own November and your own Thanksgiving. “In November, people are good to each other.” Thank you, Cynthia Rylant, for how you remind us what’s important! You can read my full review here. 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 14 Forest Mice and the Harvest Moon Watch by Kazuo Iwamura — Y’all, this is another one that I wish you could more easily get your hands on. When we were visiting my in-laws this summer, a neighbor loaned me the whole season-based series, and my girls read them on repeat the whole time we were visiting. The forest mice family is busily preparing for their harvest moon celebration, and it is truly a delight to follow along with their tasks. I’m working hard to track down used copies of the whole series to share with you all! Ages 5-8.
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!
A Wonderful Fall Chapter Book Read Aloud
Heartwood Hotel: A True Home by Kallie George, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin — I read this one to our girls last fall, when they were 6.5 and 4, and it was a perfect story for them! Another fall story that is just incredibly sweet, A True Home introduces is to Mona the mouse, who gets lost in the woods and finds her way to the Heartwood Hotel. Though she can’t find her own home and lost her family long ago, she finds not only a warm shelter in the storm, but also a true home and family. You can read a little more about this series here, as well as find some tips for transitioning to chapter book read alouds. This is the first book in a 4-book series. Ages 7-10, but a terrific read aloud for ages 4-6!
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?
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