A California Fall

Here in Southern California, we’re not known for our seasons. Fall, especially, is not our forte. The autumn in my dreams is filled with piles of crunchy scarlet leaves, cozy turtleneck sweaters, and chilly nights warmed by mugs of steaming cider. But where we live, actual autumn is marked by the return of the Santa Ana winds and an increase in fire danger. Here, fall means wearing sandals and cut-off shorts to the pumpkin patch because it’s still 85 degrees in mid-October. 

The Fall Spirit

So we have to work a bit harder to conjure up that fall spirit. One of my favorite ways to do this is by heading to the library and checking out all the best books about autumn. 

In our daughters’ room, we have picture ledge shelving, which we use to display books like art, switching them up with the seasons and holidays. Wherever you set out these books—on your child’s dresser, the living room coffee table—their festive covers will add a dose of fall vibes around your home.

Autumn Book List

The books on this list are likely to be a big hit with kids aged about 3 to 7 (though, I will note, I am 38 and I adore all these books and will happily read them over and over).

Those Darn Squirrels! by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

This winsome tale is set in fall, and tells about an unlikely friendship that blossoms between a crotchety older gentleman and a bunch of enterprising squirrels.

In the Middle of Fall by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek

Swirls of rich orange, brown, red and golden yellow leap off the pages of this book, to show and tell us about the simple wonders of autumn.

Shy Mama’s Halloween by Anne Broyles, illustrated by Leane Morin

The best books give us a compelling story, and also stretch our capacity for empathy. This book does both beautifully. It tells the story of an immigrant family’s first Halloween in the U.S., and how the neighborhood welcomes a mother who is hesitant to leave her apartment and participate in this strange, new holiday. If there’s one book on this list not to skip, this is it!

Bats by Gail Gibbons

If there’s ever a season to learn about these gentle, nocturnal (and often misunderstood) creatures, it’s fall, of course!

The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

None of the animals on the farm can lure this hardworking spider away from the web she’s building.

Monster Trouble by Lane Fredrickson, illustrated by Michael Robertson

Winifred Schnitzel loves all things spooky and scary, but she needs to get rid of the monsters who creep in her room and keep her up all night. In rhythmic rhyme, this book details the traps and tricks she sets out to catch those pesky monsters.

The Berenstain Bears Trick or Treat by Stan and Jan Berenstain

Brother and Sister Bear learn to never judge someone based on appearance.

Bears in the Night by Stan and Jan Berenstain

The bears sneak out of bed for a midnight run to the top of Spook Hill, in this story for emergent readers.

Space Case by Edward Marshall, illustrated by James Marshall

On Halloween night, the “thing from outer space” lands on Earth and tags along with a boy while he goes trick-or-treating and to school the next day. 

Birdie’s Happiest Halloween by Sujean Rim

Author/illustrator Rim’s signature watercolor and collage shine in this story about a young girl who can’t decide what to be for Halloween. A visit to a history museum provides loads of inspiration and helps her finally choose a costume.

Awesome Autumn by Bruce Goldstone

How and why do leaves change color in the fall? The photos in this smart non-fiction book help answer the big questions about the season, and also provide instructions for some easy fall crafts and activities.

Goodnight Goon by Michael Rex

If you have a little one who loves Goodnight Moon, this October, swap it out for this delightfully spooky parody.

Now it’s your turn—what are your must-read kids’ books for the fall season?

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Ashlee grew up in Newbury Park, and returned to the area after studying journalism at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and teaching English in Santiago, Chile for two years. She spent three years as a working mom, before leaving the corporate world to become a full-time, at-home parent. Her daughters are 4 and 6 years old, and she relishes getting to experience her old childhood stomping grounds through their eyes. An Enneagram 4, Ashlee enjoys reading, running, music, collecting vintage fashion magazines, and sharing a fun cocktail with her husband after work while their kids sit/jump beside them on the couch and watch "Pinkalicious." She is a whole-hearted believer that “it takes a village” not only to raise a child, but also to raise a mother. She is grateful for a supportive family, friends, and community, and is passionate about the power of writing to connect us and let us know we’re not alone.

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