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An elementary teacher science blog

A Free Fall Picture Books List for Teachers

Free Fall Picture Books List for Teachers

Picture books are an amazing way to learn about the world and can be an invaluable tool for introducing children to the changing seasons. This free fall picture books list for teachers is compiled of 15 titles that introduce seasonal signs, changing leaves, animals in the fall, and moon phases. By reading some of these books to your students you are supplementing your science instruction with children’s literature. This technique can help generate interest and motivation, provide context, encourage communication, and connect science information in real-world context (Mahzoon-Hagheghi, 2018, 41). Read this free fall picture books list to get some amazing titles to introduce autumn to your students!

Picture Books About Signs of Autumn

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak

Reading age: 1st-2nd grade (4-7 years)

Related Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): K-ESS2-1

Kenard Pak brings to life the seasonal transition from summer to fall through the eyes of a young girl taking a walk through the forest and into town. She spots signs of the turning seasons such as cooler weather, birds heading south, leaves changing colors and more. Written as a conversation between the main character and everything she encounters, this is a wonderful book to share with your early childhood readers. *Bonus- Like this book on the free fall picture books list? This book belongs to a series that includes all of the seasons children experience during their school year!

We Gather Together: Celebrating the Harvest Season by Wendy Pfeffer

Reading age: 1st-4th grade (6-9 years)

Related Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): 3-ESS2-1, 3-ESS2-2

Wendy Pfeffer shares the arrival of autumn with a focus on the harvest and agriculture in this picture book about fall. She shares the reason for the seasons including the tilt of the Earth. Pfeffer also explains how the Northern Hemisphere experiences autumn starting in September while the Southern Hemisphere is beginning its spring. She relates the autumnal hours of day and night to the preparation of humans and animals for the coming winter. Also, the author shares how food reaches stores during the non-growing seasons in the Northern Hemisphere by transporting food from the Southern Hemisphere. Included in her writings are the history of agriculture, cultural customs from around the world, and more in this lengthy, but thorough book about fall. *Bonus- Like this book on the free fall picture books list? This book belongs to a series that includes all four seasons of the year!

Autumn Clues on Free Fall Picture Books List

Autumn is Here by Heidi Pross Gray

Reading age: 1st-2nd grade (2-8 years)

Related Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): K-ESS2-1

Heidi Pross Gray simplifies the signs of the fall season in this repetitive and relaxing story. She includes characteristic signs of fall such as the changing leaves, migrating geese, harvesting apples, pumpkins, and more. This is a great introduction to the fall season for your early childhood learners and the pictures are absolutely lovely! *Bonus- Like this book on the free fall picture books list? This book belongs to a series that includes all four seasons of the year!

It’s Fall by Linda Glaser

Reading age: Preschool-3rd grade (5-9 years)

Related Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): K-ESS2-1, 3-ESS2-1, 3-ESS2-2

Linda Glaser shares the cycles of nature through this fall picture book. She shares signs of autumn similar to the other books on this list such as falling leaves, colder weather, and migrating geese. Glaser also introduces less frequently discussed signs such as migrating monarchs, hibernating ladybugs, frogs burrowing into the mud, chipmunks caching food, and the spreading of plant seeds. If your focus is on the patterns of weather and its effects on plants and animals, this book is a great option for elementary children of all ages. *Bonus- Like this book on the free fall picture books List? This book belongs to a series that includes all four seasons of the year!

Countdown to Fall by Fran Hawk

Reading age: Kindergarten-1st grade (2-8 years)

Related Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): K-ESS2-1

Fran Hawk uses counting backwards from 10 to 1 and rhyming as a way to introduce what happens with trees in the fall. She writes about falling leaves, pinecones, beech nuts, maple seeds, and pine needles as signs of the changing seasons. The rich, realistic illustrations show animals that can be seen in the fall and what they could be found doing. Sherry Neidigh, the illustrator, frames each scene with bark from the trees as well as small pictures in the four corners that show what the trees’ leaves and fruits look like in the summer and how they change to look in the fall. This is an amazing read for early childhood learners and is one of my favorite fall books to share with children!

Picture Books About Leaves

Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber

Reading age: Kindergarten-2nd grade (3-7 years)

Related Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): 1-LS3-1, 2-PS1-1

Carole Gerber shares the diversity of tree leaf shapes through her rhyming story about fall leaves. Introducing colors and shapes, this story focuses on classification based on observable characteristics. Leaf Jumpers is engaging and relatable for early childhood learners. If read to 1st graders, they could take a look at young specimen of each tree species and then find their “parent” tree by matching the leaves. If read to 2nd graders, they could sort leaves outside based on their shapes, colors, and other observable characteristics. Both of these activities can help fulfill the Next Generation Science Standards for their respective grades.

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert

Reading age: Preschool-3rd grade (4-7 years)

Related Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): K-LS1-1, 1-LS1-1, 1-LS3-1, 2-LS2-2, 3-LS1-1

Lois Ehlert shares the story of a generic narrator’s experience purchasing and planting a maple tree at their home. The story begins with the narrator’s maple tree as a seed and how it got the sun and warmth it needed to begin growing. Then the narrator shares how the tree grew up at a nursery until their family bought it and planted it at their home. They mention spring signs of growth, summer flowers and seeds, and end with fall and the maple tree’s colored leaves. Lois Ehlert also includes information after the story about tree parts and how to select the right tree and plant it at your own home/school. This book is great to use during the spring or the fall, depending on how you want to use it in your curriculum.

Leaf Hunt on Free Fall Picture Books List

We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger

Reading age: Preschool-3rd grade (2-4 years)

Related Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): 1-LS3-1, 2-PS1-1

Steve Metzger uses the folksong “Going on a Bear Hunt” as inspiration for this action-packed story about looking for leaves during the fall. Children of different races move over a mountain, through a forest, around a waterfall, and across a lake. Onomatopoeia words accompany their actions. Young children enjoy the rhythm of the words and the silly actions to go along with them as they mimic the hike the children take. Observable characteristics help the children know which leaf they are collecting at each location.

Leaf Lessons on Free Fall Picture Books List

The Very Last Leaf by Stef Wade

Reading age: Kindergarten-2nd grade (5-7 years)

Related Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): K-LS1-1

This would be a great book for the first week of school in the fall. Stef Wade shares the experiences of a leaf in his fall semester at school where he gets good grades in all of his classes. There’s mention of photosynthesis, pigment changing, and falling from the tree to the ground. Lance the leaf is afraid to fall but with his teacher’s reassurance and empowering words, “I know you can do this,” Lance eventually finds the courage to pass his final exam of falling from the tree. The story covers addressing concerns and fears and how this can help people feel better about their worries. Fall signs can be pointed out in the context of the words as well as in the illustrations.

Fall Changes on Free Fall Picture Books List

Fall Leaves by Loretta Holland

Reading age: Preschool-3rd grade (4-7 years)

Related Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): 3-ESS2-1

Loretta Holland shares a lot of information in this beautifully illustrated picture book. She introduces the way that the Earth moves in space and relates this movement to the changing sun creating our experience of day and night. Then, Holland explains direct and indirect rays from the sun*. After that, she shares information about the Northern Hemisphere in late September including a variety of signs of autumn including migrating birds, fall rain, flowers going to seed, animals getting ready to sleep for the winter, apples being harvested, photosynthesis and the needs of plant, an explanation of why and how leaves fall, colder temperatures, gray clouds and more. This is a great book for 3rd graders and their exploration of weather patterns throughout the year.

*Be careful with this section of the book as some children may hear “…make the sun’s light come and go, getting closer and brighter to the earth at times or dimmer and farther away at other times…” and think that the seasons are created by the distance of the Earth in relation to the sun. This sentence, if left unexplained, would feed naive conceptions.

Why Do Leaves Change Color? by Betsy Maestro

Reading age: Preschool-3rd grade (3-7 years)

Related Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): 3-LS3-1, 3-LS3-2, 3-ESS2-1, 4-LS1-1, 5-PS3-1, 5-LS1-1, 5-LS2-1

Betsy Maestro shares many wonderful pieces of information about how the leaves on the trees change color in this non-fiction picture book. She shares information about chlorophyll and how it makes the leaves look green during the spring and summer. Then she explains how chlorophyll helps the tree produce the sugar it needs to survive through photosynthesis. Maestro also shares that the change in weather, including the drop in temperature and the fewer hours of daylight, signal to the trees that it is time to prepare for dormancy. Once the leaves are on the ground, they decompose and release their nutrients back into the soil for the tree to use in the future. This is a very informative picture book and is most appropriate for children in upper elementary due to its length and complex vocabulary.

Picture Books About Animals in the Fall

Squirrel’s Fall Search by Anita Loughrey and Daniel Howarth

Reading age: Preschool- kindergarten (4-6 years)

Related Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): K-LS1-1, 1-LS1-1, 2-LS2-2

Anita Loughrey and Daniel Howarth team up to share a short but concise story about a squirrel in the fall. It begins with a squirrel and his brother collecting pinecones, berries, and nuts to get ready for winter. Then they begin to play and the squirrel forgets where he puts his food and begins to search for it. He talks to a mouse that suggests he checks in the meadow. Then the talks to a rabbit that suggests he checks by the pond. Last he talks to an owl that suggests he checks by the apple tree. Finally, he finds his brother and a large pile of food that they end up sharing. This is a great story for early childhood readers and can help to introduce animals that cache their food in the fall in preparation for winter.

Middle of Fall on the Free Fall Picture Books List

In the Middle of Fall by Kevin Henkes

Reading age: Preschool-3rd grade (2-5 years)

Related Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): K-ESS2-1

Kevin Henkes writes a simple, two sentence story about the changing seasons. He begins with a sentence about the signs of fall including leaves changing color, chilly air, pumpkins ripening, and more. Then he ends with a sentence sharing signs of winter to look forward to as the seasons change again. Another great book for early childhood readers with relatable seasonal signs.

Picture Books About Moon Phases

The Moon Seems to Change by Franklyn M. Branley

Reading age: Preschool-3rd grade (4-8 years)

Related Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): 4-PS4-2

Franklyn M. Branley brings to light the cycle of the moon phases and how it changes through this non-fiction book. This story is full of higher-level information that would be most appropriate for upper elementary students. 4th graders could benefit from this book as an introduction to learning about light that bounces from an object into the viewer’s eyes which illuminates that object.

(Wondering why this book is on the “Free Fall Picture Books List for Teachers”? Many people like to teach about the moon phases during the fall thanks to the harvest moon. I thought I’d throw a couple of moon phase books into the fall-book-mix.)

The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons

Reading age: Preschool-3rd grade (4-8 years)

Related Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): 4-PS4-2, 5-PS2-1, 5-ESS1-1

Gail Gibbons shares a variety of information about the moon in this non-fiction picture book. She begins by addressing how the moon reflects the sun’s light and how it is the closest object to Earth in space. Then Gibbons shares a theory scientists have of the origin of the moon as well as information about ancient people and their beliefs about the moon. She shares an explanation of the phases of the moon, solar eclipses, and lunar eclipses. Then she touches on the moon’s role in the creation of the tides on Earth. Science tools are introduced to share how people can observe the moon plus even more wonderful information. This picture book is most appropriate for children in upper elementary grade levels due to its length, abstract concepts, and complex vocabulary.

Bonus book! The Reasons for Seasons by Gail Gibbons

Reading age: Preschool-3rd grade (4-8 years)

Related Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): 3-ESS2-1, 3-ESS2-2

Gail Gibbons shares a plethora of information about the seasons and how they come to be in this non-fiction picture book. She begins with an explanation of the tilt of the Earth and how the Earth orbits the sun. The author/illustrator also shares a diagram of the tilt of the Earth in relationship to the sun during the different seasons. Gibbons views the seasons through the lens of the Northern Hemisphere but makes sure to mention what is happening at each date in the Southern Hemisphere for comparison. She introduces each season and some of its main identifiers including:

  • The name of the first day of the season
  • The dates they typically begin
  • Approximately how much day and night the season begins with
  • Specific seasonal signs
  • And a page with transitions between each season

She goes one step further and addresses the climate of the equator which is always hot with little to no variation in hours of daylight and the seasons are marked by times of rain and dryness. Gibbons also shares information about the north and south pole climates where it is always cold and the seasons are indicated by sunlight or darkness. This is a great book to begin a 3rd grade weather or climate unit; it is a bit advanced for many early childhood classrooms.

Enjoy this wonderful season with its mild weather, beautiful colors, and enjoyable holidays; it is sure to be one of your students’ favorite times of the year!


Bibliography

Mahzoon-Hagheghi, M.; Yebra, R.; Johnson, R. (2018). Fostering a Greater Understanding of Science in the Classroom Through Children’s Literature. Texas Journal of Literacy Education, 6(1), 41-50. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1183979.pdf


Have an amazing fall picture book that wasn’t listed? Include your favorites in the comments!