Fall Leaves!
8 Great Books to Share

Here are some great books about Fall. They're perfect to share as a read-aloud or as practice readers.

(goodreads stats as of 10/26/12)

bookcover of The Busy Little SquirrelThe Busy Little Squirrel
by Nancy Tafuri

In this pre-primer, you'll find a story about Squirrel who needs to get ready for winter. Being a busy little fellow he has no time to hop or run with frogs, dogs, and mice. No, he must get ready for when temperatures drop and the snow falls!

Leaves were falling.
The air was getting cold.

It was time for Squirrel
to get ready for winter.

"Squeak, squeak," said Mouse.
"Will you nibble a pumpkin with us?"

But Squirrel couldn't...
He was so busy!

"He was so busy!" is the common refrain, and it's repeated throughout the book until the very end when Squirrel can't participate because he is 'fast asleep!'

Warm, cheerful drawings by one of our favorite author-artists makes it easy for me to recommend this book. [Click on the picture below and most browsers will make it larger.]

exclusive excerpt from Tafuri's Busy Little Squirrel
Average Ratings:
GoodReads -- 171 reviewers, 3.73

Reading Information:
Word Count: 128
Page Count: 32 pages
Accelerated Reading level: 0.9 / points: 0.5
AR quiz: 118900
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 0689873417
  • sample pages available

bookcover of Zero is The Leaves On The TreeZero is The Leaves On The Tree
by Betsy Franco
Shino Arihara (Illus.)

**STARRED Review** Kirkus

This little 'concept' book focuses on that magic number, Zero. It ties in with our Fall motif because several of the pages deal with cool weather themes like zero leaves on the trees.

One project Teachers and Parents
might want to try is to have a count down from 10-to-0 using a felt tree with fall colored leaves that can be removed.
"Zero is...
the ducks on the pond when
the air says winter is coming.

0 ducks
exclusive BfK-revs excerpt from Zero is Number of Leaves on the Trees
Average Ratings:
GoodReads -- 74 reviewers, 3.74

Reading Information:
No AR information
Page Count: 30
Lexile: AD700L
  • Publisher: Tricycle Press
  • ISBN-10: 1582462496
  • sample pages available

bookcover of Mouse's First FallMouse's First Fall
Also here
by Lauren Thompson

Buket Erdogan (illus.)

Mouse's First Fall is a cute book that has large font and short sentences. Some of the most difficult words include: tumbling, twirling, around, orange, shape, pointy, smooth, skinny, skipped, swished, kicked, through, peeked, poked, peered and popped.

Text from a sample page follows, and there's also an excerpt (below) that shows more text and some of Erdogan's attractive artwork:
Mouse ran and skipped
and kicked and swished
through all the leaves.

All-in-all, this is a book that evokes the season of fall, and Mouse and Minka (a larger rodent) point out all the colors leaves come in -- red, yellow, orange, and brown -- as well as the fact that leaves come in different shapes.

excerpt from Mouses First Fall
Average Ratings:
GoodReads --
110 reviewers, 3.66

Reading Information:Word Count: unknown
Page Count: 32
Accelerated Reading level: 1.6 / points: 0.5 (per this site/ not verified)
Lexile: AD450L
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 068985837X
  • sample pages available

bookcover of Glaser's It's Fall!It's Fall!
(Celebrate the Seasons)
by Linda Glaser
Susan Swan (illus.)

The text in this one describes the colors and smells and happenings of fall, but I'm going to guess that it will be Susan Swan's fun cut-paper, mixed media, artwork that will grab everyone's attention.

It's Fall! has a boy pointing out that besides cooler weather, crunchy leaves and nighttime coming earlier, that animals change their habits. That geese are flying south, ladybugs and earthworms are starting to prepare for hibernation, and raccoons and other animals are storing away food.

It's fall! I help rake a big, big pile of leaves.
Whee! I jump in and sink deep, deep, deep.
I hide inside. It smells sharp and sweet.
Leaves prickle and tickle all over me.
i wat and wait. Then...

We hear the wild honking of migrating geese
as they fly way up overhead in V's.
A hawk soars up in a sweeping glide.
And there go some monarch butterflies!

They're all heading south where it's warm,
because colder days are coming soon.

In addition, Glaser also has a paragraph or two about plants. How some are scattering seeds, and how cooler weather is a good time to plant some bulbs like crocuses and tulips.

At the end there is a long list of Nature Activities for children, including Picking Apples/Pumpkins, Leaf Rubbings, Making a Seed Mosaic, and more.

exclusive GBfK excerpt ex Glaser's It's Fall!(click to magnify)

Average Ratings:
GoodReads -- 48 reviewers, 3.69

Reading Information
Word Count: 875
Page Count: 32 pages
Accelerated Reading level: 3.1 / points: 0.5
AR quiz: 57474
  • Publisher: Millbrook Press
  • ISBN-10: 0761313427
  • sample pages available

bookcover of Red Leaf, Yellow LeafRed Leaf, Yellow Leaf
by Lois Ehlert

**American Bookseller Pick of the List**
Reading Rainbow Book!

For us this book is all about the artwork. To be honest the children and I didn't enjoy the text of "Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf" as much as Lois Ehlert's other books. But that might just be us.

The artwork is very appealing. There are leaf cutouts where the color is provided from the page behind. And the rich, bright colors run from page-edge to page-edge.

exclusive GBfk excerpt from Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf

The text is huge and appropriate for younger children. The topic covered is the life cycle of trees. At the end of the book there are four pages of more detailed information, but it is more for adults than children. The text is small and discusses Leaves, Buds, Roots and Sap, Seeds, Bark, Tree Flowers, and how to select and plant a tree.
Seeds the squirrels
didn't find lay sleeping
among the leaves
until they
were covered
with snow.

When spring sun warmed
the seeds, they sprouted
and sent roots
down into the soil.
Tiny leaves
unfolded on
their stems.
exclusive GBfk excerpt from Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf
Oddly there's a mention about the seedling being gathered in the woods. I'd be shocked to find that nurseries still do that. And I'd point this out to children and finish our discussion of the book by asking why national parks now forbid people from 'taking home samples' and why nurseries no longer gather their seeds and seedlings in this way. (Answer: to many people doing this would strip the wilderness of it's next generation of plants.)

Average Ratings:
GoodReads -- 497 reviewers, 3.75

Reading Information:
Word Count: 286
Page Count: 40 pages
Accelerated Reading level: 2.6 / points: 0.5
AR quiz: 6137
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
  • ISBN-10: 0152661972
  • sample pages available
  • available also in paperback and large-book

bookcover of Investigating Why Leaves Change Their ColorInvestigating Why Leaves Change Their Color
(Science Detectives)
by Ellen Rene

I really like this book. The layout is not the best -- paragraph breaks are hard to distinguish -- but the text is large and the content is detailed and chatty.
Table of Contents
Out of Thin Air
What is Photosynthesis?
Chlorophyll and Sunlight
What Makes Leaf Colors?
Sun Catchers
How Do Plants Move Food Around?
Hidden Color
Shutting Down
Nature's Big Show
Leaf Detectives

Glossary Index Websites
One of the things I love about the book is that it's not afraid to use big words. Ellen Rene writes about anthocyanins (yes, there's a pronunciation guide at the end of the book), carotenoids and photosynthesis. And she explains these pigments and processes in a manner that children and adults can understand.

An excellent choice for home and/or the classroom. This book can be used as a read-aloud, or as a practice reader. Students will learn not only about trees, leaves and fall, but light, and why leaves appear red or green.

exclusive GBfk excerpt from Investigating Why Leaves Change Their Color
Average Ratings:
GoodReads -- 2 reviewers, 5.0
Reading Information:
Word Count: 1,378
Page Count: 24 pages
Accelerated Reading level: 3.7 / points: 0.5
AR quiz: 126040
  • Publisher: PowerKids Press
  • ISBN-10: 1404244859

bookcover of Why Do Leaves Change Color?Why Do Leaves Change Color?
by Betsy Maestro
Loretta Krupinski, Illus.

The artwork in this book is very nice. There are drawings of the insides of a leaf and also many different leaf shapes.

The text however, isn't as strong and in my opinion it fails to follow through with information suitable for children reading at this level. You get sentences like, "Leaves are very important to the tree" and "When the leaves die, they will fall from the tree." This would be fine as a read-aloud for very young children, but by the 3rd Grade, most children have already had a year or more of plant basics, what their roots and leaves are used for, and they are ready for a book with more science -- like Ellen Rene's "Investigating Why Leaves Change Their Color" which I reviewed previously.
The tree begins to get ready for it's winter rest. It needs very little food now, and the leaves stop their work. The life of the leaves is almost at an end. The tree no longer needs them.

When the leaves die, they will fall from the tree. This will happen slowly over a number of weeks. As the leaves begin to separate from the tree, they get less water. Without water, the leaves cannot make new chlorophyll. The old chlorophyll begins to fade. The green color starts to disappear.
This would be an okay, basic introduction to the 'science of fall leaves' but it won't be enough for children who are ready to understand the workings of chlorophyll, photosynthesis and carotenoids. To my mind it dealt too generally with the processes.

excerpt from Why Do Leaves Change Color?
Average Ratings:
GoodReads -- 57 reviewers, 3.88
Reading Information:
Word Count: 969
Page Count: 32 pages
Accelerated Reading level: 3.7 / points: 0.5
AR quiz: 13840
  • Publisher: Collins
  • ISBN-10: 0064451267
  • sample pages available

bookcover of The Stranger by Chris Van AllsburgThe Stranger
by Chris Van Allsburg

Another brilliant book by Chris Van Allsburg, The Stranger is a mystery story that involves a stranger who has lost his mystery... stalling the coming of Winter. Most kids love this story. Some adults don't 'get it'... what can we say.

Average Ratings:
GoodReads -- 1,125 reviewers, 4.01

Reading Resources:
Word Count: 927
Page Count: 32
Accelerated Reading level: 3.7 / points: 0.5
AR quiz: 69065
Lexile: 640L
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
  • ISBN-10: 0395423317
  • sample pages available

One Fall project we particularly liked was making a 'leaf journal'. This project is simple and consists of pasting fall leaves of different colors and shapes on the paper of choice. You can also do leaf rubbings and add sparkles for that special touch.