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Picture books are one of our favorite ways to mark the transition to a new season and build up anticipation for upcoming holidays. There’s something irresistible about having stories we read only at certain times of year. You know that scarcity part of our brain that lights up when we see a product labeled “limited edition” or “seasonal item”? And how we then find ourselves with odd flavors of cream cheese because we just can’t resist the temptation? Holiday and season-specific picture books are like that in our family, minus the pumpkin spice flavoring (if you happen to love pumpkin spice cream cheese, you have my full support). The fact that we don’t get to read these books just any old time makes them more special.
When I pulled out our fall books this year, Nate was giddy and wanted to read them all immediately. I was right there with him because we have some great ones! A quick digression to note that we check out a ton of books from the library and only buy our very favorites. That means the ones that have made this list have passed through some rigorous testing before being deemed worthy of adding to the permanent fall collection.
Without further ado, here are five of our family’s fall favorites. (A tiny bit of further ado to note that I love alliteration.)
1. Full of Fall by April Pulley Sayre. If you’ve never read any picture books by this author, you’re in for a treat. Her work is full of gorgeous photos and spare, rhythmic text. Here is an excerpt from Full of Fall: “Limbs and layers. Leafy lanes. / Margins. Midribs. Sunlit veins.” The first line is accompanied by a photograph of a row of trees, the second by a close-up shot of a single yellowish-green, red-speckled leaf in dappled sunlight. While children are the book’s target audience, the photography is so mesmerizing that this book would make a great coffee table book for any household.
2. The Scarecrow. Written by Beth Ferry and illustrated by The Fan Brothers. The opening lines of this book evoke fall magic in merely ten words: “Autumn sunshine. Haystacks rolled. Scarecrow guards the fields of gold.” We learn that Scarecrow’s job of keeping animals away is a lonely one. When a baby bird drops to the ground near him, Scarecrow snaps his pole, picks up the bird, and snuggles the little one close. But what happens when the baby grows up and flies off to form his own family? A touching friendship story with simple yet gorgeous language.
3. I Want to Be in a Scary Story. Written by Sean Taylor and illustrated by Jean Jullien. This book fits great with Halloween since it includes a ghost, a witch, and a spooky house, among other elements. Written entirely as a conversation between Little Monster and an unnamed narrator-type person, the book’s premise is fun and unique: Little Monster wants to be in a scary story, but he and the narrator have different understandings of what that means. Little Monster wants to be the one doing the scaring, NOT the one being scared. There are great lines like “Oh yikes and crikes!” that make the boys giggle. As they’ve learned to read, we’ve also found it fun to read this book as a pair, with a kid speaking Little Monster’s part while I take the narrator’s lines.
4. Sir Simon, Super Scarer by Cale Atkinson. We have this one with our Halloween books because of the ghost protagonist, but I go back and forth as to whether we should just have it on the shelf all the time because it’s such a good one (and then I think, “but then it wouldn’t be as special…” See above). The boys full-on belly laugh when we read this story of Simon, a ghost excitedly reporting to his first house-haunting gig only to discover he’ll have to deal with Chester, a curious kid. Besides being packed with kid humor, the book contains some heartfelt moments as we learn what Simon and Chester have in common. Icing on the cake: when you finish the story and close the book, here’s the back cover:
See what I mean about this author nailing kid humor?
5. Pick a Pumpkin. Written by Patricia Toht and illustrated by Jarvis. This books is one of those that’s such a good idea it’s surprising it didn’t exist until just a couple years ago. It narrates a trip to the pumpkin patch, bringing the pumpkins home, carving them, decorating for Halloween, and finally, proudly displaying the jack-o-lanterns before setting off to trick-or-treat. My kids love the chance to visit all their favorite elements of Halloween in one book.
And that’s a wrap. Which of your favorite fall picture books did I miss? Let me know others we should check out next year!