Inside: Discover traditional and not-so-traditional fall books for kids from a Michigan girl turned Texan. Take me to: the full book list, animal migration books, beach books, hiking books, football & band books, classic fall books.
Fall is here! Leaves are changing colors, apples are ready to be squeezed into fresh cider, and pumpkin vines hold bright orange globes. Pumpkin spice is everywhere: lattes, doughnuts, candles, and tee-shirts announcing their devotion to “pumpkin spice everything.”
But I live in southeast Texas, and besides the pumpkin spice adoration, the quintessential fall experience is not a reality for my family. Most days are still 80+ degrees, (which sorry to my sweater- and boot-loving friends, is actually quite glorious). Pumpkins rest on crates outside churches instead of ripening on vines in the pumpkin patch. Apples don’t grow here, and our leaves mostly stay green.
Of course, the stores kindly let those of us in our tank tops and flip flops purchase our classic fall experience, and we are game! We ooh and ahh at the decorations, drink our (iced) apple cider from Starbucks, and probably put way too many pumpkins outside our house trying to add that pop of fall color.
Expanding Fall Celebrations
As fun as this is, there is also something very special about honoring what is uniquely “fall” where we live. I want to help my family explore actual fall (even while we adore traditional fall). So I’ve rounded up some autumn activities to enjoy in southeast Texas and matched them with some great nontraditional fall books for kids. My fellow bloggers chime in as well.
Don’t worry, if you are all about traditional fall, I’ve included a few of those kids’ books, too. No matter where you live, I hope you take time to discover your own local fall offerings this year. There may be more to fall fun than meets the eye.
Not-So-Traditional Fall Books FOR KIDS
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for products we love. If you purchase, we get a small commission at no cost to you. We’re just as happy for you to buy local or thrift, and we’ve provided some links on our Resources page.
Animal Migration Books and ACTIVITIES
Something happening almost everywhere right now–though it doesn’t receive the attention of pumpkins and colored leaves–is animal migration. One example is hawks migrating south through Texas. They tend to hug the coastline as they fly, so they end up funneling to a single point at the tip of Bolivar Island. So cool! Thousands of hawks are counted each day at the Smith Point Hawk Watch at the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory.
The Peregrine’s Journey: A Story of Migration
Based on the journey of a real bird, this is a fascinating and fact-filled story of the peregrine’s trek from Alaska to Argentina.
Welcome Brown Bird
Find it: Amazon
In this beautiful book, a boy in New England and a boy in Central America both wait–though at different times of the year–for the brown thrush to come and sing its beautiful song. I love this story that shows interconnectedness across miles and cultures. It also carries a conservation message.
Winged Wonders: Solving the Monarch Migration Mystery
This engaging book builds a sense of community as it looks at how the world learned the answer to: “Where do monarchs come from and where do they go?” (Also, it was published in March 2020, which means all the author/illustrator school visits and bookstore signings were likely cancelled. A good reason to show a great book some love!)
Every page of this bright, engaging book is bilingual, but sometimes it rhymes in Spanish with an English translation, and sometimes it rhymes in English with a Spanish translation. For that, it has my heart.
Beach Books and FUn
Last week my best friends went to the beach for fall break at school. This is an amazing time to go to the beach in southeast Texas. It is a little cooler, the sun is less intense, and the summer vacation crowd has faded.
Books about the beach are a great way to build anticipation for a beach trip or relive fun family memories. (So as not to confuse the internet, we’ve moved our beach book reviews to our summer books post. We hope you’ll check them out!)
Hiking BOOKS and Family FUn
Hiking can be done in most areas of the country in fall, but it is particularly glorious in Texas. Our family loves enjoying nature in this way, and these hiking books for kids help us savor the experience.
This charming 2019 book with a starred review from Kirkus has themes of adventure, resiliency, encouragement, and science! A diverse group of kiddos hike a west-coast woodland. One of the characters journals the hike, providing nature facts interspersed with humor that is reminiscent of the Super Happy Magic Forest series or the Origami Yoda books.
Celebrate a little girl’s first hike with her family. Great for preschoolers!
The Golden Glow
A botany-loving fox hikes in search of a rare flower. Details about hiking, trees, and flowers abound, and when our character finds the prized flower, he shows how we best care for the places we visit.
This nearly-wordless picture book (with multiple starred reviews) from an acclaimed illustrator celebrates a father and son’s special day hiking.
Walk on the Wild Side
Anyone whose kids have a competitive side will appreciate this book. When a beaver, a bear, and a moose make their hike into a race, it takes a wild turn. In the end, they decide enjoying the journey is better than winning.
In the Canyon
Not all hiking happens in the forest. For those who love the desert variety, this rhyming book about a little girl hiking in the Grand Canyon is perfect. The author’s note is a special gift for all nature lovers, and the glossary and map extend the learning.
Tiny, Perfect Things
Sometimes a walk around the neighborhood is the only “hiking” we have time for! And this book about a girl taking a walk with her grandfather celebrates the amazing things we can find in a seemingly ordinary habit. Touching and exquisite.
Football and Marching Band BOOKS AND Experiences
Our high schools boast stadiums that can hold 10,000+ people, and the football teams and marching bands that play inside them are equally impressive. Last year, my family went to a marching band competition, and the artistry and music held my kids’ attention for over 2 hours! Fall in Texas is such a fun time to enjoy the local high school and college football games and marching band shows. (During this time, some stadiums have different policies, so be sure to check before you show up to buy tickets.)
A whimsical story about the fun of afterschool football.
Don’t Throw it to Mo!
This Level 2 Reader won the 2016 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award and stars a boy who is much smaller than the rest of his team but has a big passion for the game of football. Go, Mo, Go!
A cute rhyming book about the fun of “Friday night lights.”
Hooray for Fly Guy
“Flies can’t play football!” Or can they? Check out this fun book from the popular Fly Guy series.
Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!: A Sonic Adventure
A world-renowned jazz musician and composer and an acclaimed illustrator come together to create a celebration of music–including the music waiting to be discovered in the everyday sounds all around us. A super-fun read aloud! (We featured this book in a list of diverse books we love.)
Play This Book
Little ones will have fun interacting with this book that introduces the guitar, drum, piano, trombone, cymbals, and more.
The Oboe Goes Boom Boom Boom
What? The oboe does not go boom, but little Felicity is so excited about her drum! This book mixes humor with the sounds and science of musical instruments for a really fun read. The back matter talks about famous musicians and the instruments they played. Love it!
My Family Plays Music
In this celebration of family love, a young narrator plays percussion along with all the different kinds of music her family makes.
CLASSIC Fall BOOKS FOR KIDS
As a Houstonian, this book makes me feel so seen because all the leaves are brown. But this is way more than a fall book. It’s a funny, innovative way to talk about feelings and how they can sometimes build and build with no end in sight.
Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn
Poetic text touches on many things that mark the season, even subtle things like the sun setting earlier and late-blooming flowers. A gorgeous and gentle way to welcome fall.
A sweet story of a friendship that forms between a Scarecrow and a baby crow. When Scarecrow saves a hurt baby crow, they become unlikely friends. As Scarecrow mends Crow’s wounds, his own loneliness is mended. (Another book with a starred review.)
The Magnificent Mischief of Tad Lincoln
Older kids will love the mayhem and mercy found in these pages. This book brings out a different side of the story by focusing on Abraham Lincoln’s son Tad. It touches on life at the White House, the death of Lincoln’s son Willie, and the Civil War, but it really highlights the relationship between Tad and his “Paw.” The theme of mercy runs throughout and culminates with Lincoln’s pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkey (at Tad’s request, of course).
The Very Last Leaf
Perfect for combatting school anxieties or perfectionism, The Very Last Leaf, is about an “A” student who is afraid to fall and join the autumn leaf pile. Fear-dispelling strategies are lightly touched upon and science-related vocabulary is introduced. Both are supported by the back matter, which is written in report-card format. Super cute!
Because of an Acorn
This simple book shows the intricate ways organisms in an ecosystem are connected. The text is sparse, the artwork is compelling, and the back matter goes deeper, making it perfect for toddlers to tweens.
Snuggle Time Fall Blessings
Individual poems with fun rhyme and rhythm are woven with beautiful illustrations to create a top fall book pick for cuddling with your littlest readers as you give thanks for the season.
Why play with toys when you can play with…a squash? This quirky, delightful story beautifully conveys all the silliness, sincerity, and love of a childlike spirit. At then end, when Sophie must plant her squash, she sees all the good that can grow when we let go.
Fletcher and the Falling Leaves
This is a funny, sweet story about Fletcher and how he tries to prevent his beloved tree from succumbing to autumn. A great one to giggle over with your little ones.
P is for Pumpkin: God’s Harvest Alphabet
Find it: Amazon
Explore the many blessings of autumn with this lively rhyming book!
Pumpkin Devotions: For Preschooler and Kindergarteners
Find it: Amazon
During this season, when it is natural to be gaga about pumpkin everything, this book is a great way to explore God’s love and character. Short enough to do at breakfast or snack time, I would say these insightful devotionals could be enjoyed by more than just preschoolers and kindergarteners.
Your Fall Favorites
I would love to hear how you celebrate fall in your part of the world and which of these kids’ books or activities resonate with you. Drop us a line in the comments section!