Autumnal read-alouds offer a great way to usher in the new season and learn more about the transition from summer into fall.
The following book selections vary from funny to beautiful and offer great ways to tie-in science, literature, and artistic concepts. A brief synopsis of each book is included with activity suggestions specific for each selection.
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Hello, Harvest Moon by Ralph Fletcher, illustrated by Kate Kiesler
This autumn read captures the beauty of the harvest moon and follows it while describing all of the things it shines upon. The full harvest moon is especially bright as it marks the beginning of autumn and gives extra light to a scarecrow, a Luna Moth, a pine tree, an airplane, an owl and a nighthawk, a flock of geese, and baby sea turtles. It also describes how the harvest moon affects the ocean’s tides. This beautiful, poetic read-aloud offers many opportunities to discuss autumnal characteristics, the Harvest Moon and how it got its name, and the moon’s phases.
Do a mini-research project on the Harvest Moon and discuss the moon’s phases.
Because of an Acorn by Lola M. Schaefer and Adam Schaefer, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon
Because of an Acorn allows students to see the ecological relationship within a forest. The book begins by showing how the acorn grows into a tree and then connects it to a bird, a seed, a flower, a fruit, a chipmunk, a snake, a hawk, a squirrel, and then back to an acorn and a forest. While the words are minimal in this story, it allows for a simple read-aloud with lots of possible follow up activities. The book itself would be an excellent read-aloud for younger children as well.
Have students do further research about the forest ecosystem using these graphic organizers and then create a flow chart illustrating how the different parts of the forest are connected. Students can also discuss cause and effect relationships within the book.
Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin
This funny read-aloud is sure to be a student favorite! Old Man Fookwire is EXTREMELY grumpy. He doesn’t like much of anything, but painting birds in his backyard during the summer months is one thing he loves to do. As summer begins to transition to autumn, Old Man Fookwire gets especially grumpy because he knows his birds will be flying south very soon. So, in an effort to keep them around, he decides that he will try to feed them. Old Man Fookwire quickly realizes that the squirrels also really like his bird feeders. The squirrels decide that they need to take food from the bird feeder so that they can store up enough food for the colder months. When Old Man Fookwire discovers that the squirrels are taking all of the birds’ food, he gets very, very angry. Then Old Man Fookwire concocts a plan to build a fortress around the bird feeders. But even though he keeps the squirrels out, the birds still fly south like they do every year. The squirrels stick around but Old Man Fookwire is extra grumpy without his birds. In an attempt to cheer him up, the squirrels dress up as birds to make him happy.
Art: Have students paint their own birds like Old Man Fookwire or design and create their own bird feeders.
Science: Discuss and/or research why birds fly south for the winter and why squirrels gather and store extra food.
Autumnblings poems and paintings by Douglas Florain
Autumblings is a beautifully illustrated book of children’s poems about autumn. It offers a great way to discuss the season and elements of poetry. The poems call to mind things related to autumn such as falling leaves, cooler weather, and ripe apples. Poetic elements within include rhyming, meter, puns, and imagery. A great way to utilize this book in your classroom would be to read one poem aloud each day during the autumn season and discuss.
In the poem “What I Love About Autumn,” the author lists his favorite things about the season. Have students create their own “What I Love About Autumn” poem and create an illustration to go with it.
Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kendard Pak
Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn is my top pick for this fall season! It is versatile and can be used with younger elementary students as well. This beautifully illustrated book walks us through the transition from late summer to early fall. In the beginning the character notices how late summer begins to get cooler and more windy and how the animals start to migrate or forage for food to prepare for colder days. As she continues her walk, she notices flowers that bloom in early fall, such as asters and phlox, along with the leaves changing colors and beginning to fall to the ground. Both words and illustrations help students experience the seasonal change from summer to fall.
Art: Have students create their own autumn scene based on lines of text from the book.
Science + Literature: Have students go on a nature walk and write a poem or paragraph about their experience using descriptive words.
Teacher tip: This post had many activity suggestions. Once you have the books, get a sticky note and write down the activity and stick it on the inside cover of the book. Any time you do the read aloud, you can remember the easy no-prep activity!
This post was written by my friend Erienne Jones. She is a former school librarian turned entrepreneur who continues to immerse herself in the world of books!