Whenever autumn rolls around, I play an imaginary mental merry-go-round of determining whether it is truly my favorite season. On the one hand, it beckons the arrival of colder weather; while on the other, it seems to extend summer into a sort of colorful coziness that feels like a grand swan song. In truth, I honestly love it. Long before pumpkin spice lattes had their own acronym, my family would pilgrimage up the Rocky Mountains and take autumn hikes, surrounded by the colorful tones of pumpkin, pomegranate, and turmeric. Nowadays we take our girls apple picking and make cider donuts to celebrate the arrival of sweater weather. No matter how many autumns you’ve experienced, the season always feels ripe with possibility. So grab your scarf and a mug of tea—these 12 books are best enjoyed with company.
By: Lois Ehlert
A staple in preschools and early elementary classrooms for over a decade, Leaf Man follows a makeshift man made of leaves as he is blown about and tossed into new configurations over the course of each page turn. This will undoubtedly inspire an afternoon of crafting and creating with nature’s fallen treasures.
Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn
By: Kenard Pak
Lace up your Chucks and follow a young girl as she heads out the door, aware of her surroundings, eager to greet each tree and animal she passes. Notice the shift in hues as page turns are used to mark the passage of time—summer fading to autumn. Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn is a lovely read that pairs well with its companion book Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter.
By: Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Archie Preston
Thankful is a rhyming ode to creating a gratitude mindset each and every day. An especially instructive reminder to help children (and their adults) look at slips, mess-ups, and accidents as ways to not only learn, but thrive. With comic book style illustrations, this story is one we can’t recommend enough.
By: Lisa J. Amstutz, illustrated by Talitha Shipman
Follow a young family as they make a day of apple picking followed by an annual gathering at grandma’s house to turn the bushels of apples into sweet sauce. Complete with a recipe at the back of the book, Applesauce Day depicts what I’m sure is already an autumn tradition for many families.
How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?
By: Margaret McNamara, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
One day Mr. Tiffin asks his class if they know how many seeds are in a pumpkin. With varying guesses, they set to work to discover the answer. With three separate groups, each one scoops and separates seeds for a hands-on scientific activity bolstered by a fair amount of math. How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin is an excellent primer for early elementary school students.
By: David Ezra Stein
It’s Bear’s first year and things are going fine until the leaves start to fall. In a futile attempt to save them, he sticks them back on the branches. However, he soon grows sleepy and must forgo all activity. With an armload of leaves, he creates a den for his winter reprieve. In the spring he happily greets his little leafy friends again. With concise language and expressive images, Leaves is a perennial favorite.
By: Beth Ferry, illustrated by The Fan Brothers
“Autumn sunshine. Haystacks rolled. Scarecrow guards the fields of gold.” No woodland creature dares come close to Scarecrow—his job is to fend off and that’s what he does. Until one day a small crow falls from midair. Gently, Scarecrow tucks the bird safe and snug, tenderly caring for his newfound charge. Soon the fledgling spreads his wings and off he soars as winter arrives. The Scarecrow is a tender tale of love, loss, and reunion, made more memorable by the Fan Brothers’ unforgettable images.
By: Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Lucy Fleming
This charming read features a grandfather and granddaughter taking a walkabout through their color-saturated neighborhood. With an unrushed pace, Hello, Fall! is a wonderful book to introduce shifting seasons to preschoolers.
Full of Fall
By: April Pulley Sayre
A sparsely worded photographic journey through colors and autumn twilight. Full of Fall is one of four in a series, and readers will relish the minute details (like a chipmunk’s crowded cheeks) that beautifully portray how nature guides the seasons through each seamless transition.
Pick a Pumpkin
By: Patricia Toht, illustrated by Jarvis
Pull on your warm clothes and get ready for an autumn outing to the pumpkin patch. A place where you’ll roll a wagon only to turn and twist, studying each pumpkin from every angle, ensuring that the perfect one comes home with you. At home you’ll wash and scoop then carve your squash into a glowing guard for the front porch. You may want to read Pick a Pumpkin with a box of donuts and hot apple cider, because it perfectly encapsulates the cozy traditions of the season. A delightful companion book to Pick a Pine Tree.
By: Arthur Geisert
When a small town experiences a rainstorm pumpkins are washed downstream and soon begin sprouting everywhere. As the community begins bursting at the seams with unplanned pumpkins the townspeople find creative (and sometimes dangerous) ways to handle the unexpected squash infiltration. With detailed copperplate etchings first hand-printed then colored with watercolors, Pumpkin Island is a marvelous way to celebrate harvest season all year.
By: Sam Usher
The culminating book in the Seasons with Granddad series, Storm follows a young boy and his granddad through a reminiscence of their previous adventures and delights readers with one last unforgettable outing together. The whimsy of each book reinforces the idea that outdoor excursions, no matter the weather, always turn out just right.
Miranda Rosbach is our resident book expert, as a librarian turned children’s book reviewer and stay-at-home-mama. In her spare time, she likes scouting new restaurants and colorful murals. She lives in St.Louis with her husband and two daughters. You can visit her Instagram page, @bookbloom, to learn more.