Last night we read books that were loosely related to Fall.
I have the same issue with seasonal books that I do with holiday ones. The ones that are purely about the seasons are often pretty dry. Also, I always feel a little funny reading seasonal books in the Bay Area, especially here on the coast. We have spring, summer, autumn and winter several times a week. This morning it was clearly autumn and I had to wear a jacket when I dropped off my son at school, but by 10 it was spring, so I took it off. This afternoon it was definitely summer. For all I know, tomorrow there will be a winter rainstorm. I’ve given up trying to figure it all out. I just try to keep a flexible wardrobe.
But we never get snow (a shame, because so many great picture books take place in snow). And only a few embarrassed trees drop their leaves here. The eucalyptus and cypress defiantly keep theirs all year. So the picture book versions of the seasons don’t really apply.
What does the autumn mean here? Mostly school, and pumpkins. Huge pumpkins! Also apples, pomegranates and persimmons. And, just because I love this book, squirrels:
Ol’ Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein
I’ve only discovered David Ezra Stein in the past year or so, but I love his books, especially Interrupting Chicken (such a fun read-aloud!) This one’s about a tough old Mama Squirrel who will scold anyone and anything who threatens her babies, even a great big bully of a bear. The kids enjoyed chiming in on the “Chook! Chook! Chook!” of the Mama Squirrel, and this book was quickly snatched up at the end.
A New House for Mouse by Petr Horacek
Cute story about a mouse searching for a new home that will hold both him and his apple. As he goes along throughout the day, snacking, and asking different animals if he can share their homes, the apple gets smaller and smaller until he winds up right back at his own hole, which is now a perfect fit. This one has cut-out holes in the pages, which always seem to fascinate kids. They all seemed to enjoy this one, and it got snatched up too.
Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper
I’ll confess that I had only skimmed this one before story time, and wasn’t planning to read it, but one of the kids grabbed it from the pile and asked if I could read it next. It’s the story of a duck, a cat, and a squirrel who each have a particular job to do to make the pumpkin soup they eat every night. They live together peacefully, until one day the duck decides he would like to try stirring the soup. They all have a tremendous fight, and duck leaves. The kids were all mesmerized, waiting to see if Duck would come back. (I was too, since I wasn’t 100% sure of how it was going to end). But of course, they all learn to be more flexible, and everything is happy again, until the Duck decides he wants to try playing Cat’s bagpipes… This one got checked out at the end too.
Leaves by David Ezra Stein
This was the one book that was clearly related to Fall. It’s a simple story, but sweet, about a young bear who is alarmed to see the leaves falling, and tries to put them back on the trees. The kids were intrigued by the way the bear curls into a leaf-filled hole that is buried by snow in the winter, and how he is hidden there until spring. This one would work well for younger kids too.
I only did a couple of songs because after I read A New House for Mouse there was a raging debate between one girl who wanted me to sing “Hickory Dickory Dock” and a boy who just wanted me to read more stories (he asked very politely. It was sweet). So I did do “Hickory Dickory Dock,” but I cut out some of the other songs. Here is the version that I do:
Hickory Dickory Dock (clap hands in rhythm)
The mouse ran up the clock (run fingers up arm)
The clock struck 1 (jump up quickly, then sit down)
The mouse ran down (run fingers down arm)
Hickory Dickory Dock (clap hands)
…the clock struck two (jump up and sit down twice)
The mouse went “boo!” (cover eyes with hands, then peekaboo)
…the clock struck three
The mouse went “whee!” (slide fingers down body)
INSTRUMENT PLAY WITH A CD: I’ve had several requests for Bananaphone by Rhonda Vincent from Sing Along with Putumayo, so that’s the one we did. But a more appropriate one would have been What Falls in the Fall? by Laurie Berkner from her Whaddaya Think of That album.
CRAFT: Torn Paper Trees
I cut out the trunks freehand from brown paper, then tore bits of colored paper for the leaves. It was fun to see the different ways the kids approached gluing on the leaves. Some scattered them in handfuls, while others applied each leaf individually.
If I did this craft again, I might print out the template at the bottom of this post from The Crayon Box Chronicles (she also has a neat way of making tree trunks out of brown paper bags). I just found this site, and I’m already in love with it. LOTS of different kids art ideas and they all look like great fun! Check it out!
One book I meant to do, which is one of my favorites for fall, is Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. In this one Ehlert uses autumn leaves to create a wonderful assortment of animals and scenery. I’ve actually used it several times as a craft idea too, and brought in leaves for the kids to glue together to make their own creations.
What are your favorite picture books about Autumn?