Teachers' Picks: Books for Fall
Books with striking illustrations, early reader favorites, the best tales in the West, and — of course — a few spooky stories.
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
4 Fresh Picks for Fall
Apples by Jacqueline Farmer, illustrated by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes
A terrific new resource for your apple unit, this book explains all about how apples are grown and harvested. Kids can compare the different varieties of apples, as well as learn health and nutrition tips. Grades K–5.
How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
McNamara combines nifty facts about pumpkins with the story of a little boy who doesn’t like being the smallest in his class. It works! Through the tale we learn that a bigger pumpkin doesn’t necessarily have more seeds than a smaller one. Grades K–3.
Three Little Ghosties by Pippa Goodhart, illustrated by AnnaLaura Cantone
Three little ghosties scare themselves silly in this fun Halloween romp. Cantone’s vivid illustrations add depth and humor, making this ghost story one you’ll have no qualms about sharing at circle time. Grades K–3.
You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Scary Tales to Read Together by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Michael Emberley
Hoberman and Emberley’s not-too-scary fourth collaboration delivers rhyme and illustrations perfect for sharing in a group read-aloud or for kids to enjoy alone. Grades K–4.
4 Great Graphic Stories
Kazam! Today’s authors blend text and illustrations in new ways.
The Fog Mound: Faradawn by Susan Schade, illustrated by Jon Buller
In the second volume of this postapocalyptic series, Thelonius the Chipmunk continues to search for answers. Sound confusing? Even reluctant readers will fall for the combination of prose and graphic forms. Grades 3–7.
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Using haunting pencil sketches, Tan tells the story of a man venturing to a new land. The result is rich with classroom potential: Challenge kids to put the man’s story into words or create a wordless story of their own. Grades 4 and up.
Beowulf: Monster Slayer by Paul D. Storrie, illustrated by Ron Randall
The Graphic Universe series now adds Beowulf alongside the legends of Hercules and Odysseus, in comic book form. This ancient story is a modern day must-read. Grades 6 and up.
Run Far, Run Fast by Timothy Decker
This dramatic tale of the plague and death is intended for middle schoolers. Readers follow the adventures — told in text and pictures — “of one small girl in a time of great fear.” Grades 5 and up.
6 Best Books for Early Readers
See Jane run. See Spot sit. Bored already? So are we. Thank goodness today’s generation of new readers doesn’t have to be.
Mercy Watson: Princess in Disguise by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
In the Halloween installment of this favorite series, Mr. and Mrs. Watson transform Mercy into a princess so that she can go trick-or-treating. Grades 1–3.
Wiggle and Waggle by Caroline Arnold, illustrated by Mary Peterson
The artwork makes this new series stand out. Wormy friends Wiggle and Waggle like to dig tunnels, have picnics, and play in the mud. Newbie readers will want to come too. Grades 1–2.
Little Rat Makes Music by Monika Bang-Campbell, illustrated by Molly Bang
Little Rat wants to play music, but she hates to practice. She dawdles, chatting and painting her toenails. Can’t every kid relate to that dilemma? Grades 1–2.
Maybelle in the Soup by Katie Speck, illustrated by Paul Rátz de Tagyos
Maybelle is a cockroach. Ew! But kids will fall in love with the buggy heroine’s sense of humor and taste for yummy food. Grades 1–3.
Upstairs Mouse, Downstairs Mole by Wong Herbert Yee
Many chapter books try to be the next Frog and Toad, and this tale almost reaches its amphibian aspirations. Mouse and Mole are neighbors who learn to work — and play — together. Grades 1–3.
Soupy Saturdays With the Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume, illustrated by James Stevenson
In her long-awaited follow-up to The Pain and the Great One, Blume spins seven hilarious stories about siblings. Grades 1–3.
4 Picks for Cowboys (and Cowgirls)
Farewell wands and wizards, hello little doggies! This fall Westerns are the hottest genre either side of the Mississippi, so let your cowpokes sidle up to these great reads.
The Great Texas Hamster Drive by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Bruce Whatley
In this hilarious tall tale, Pecos Bill’s daughter gets a pet hamster and, thanks to the animal’s speedy reproduction, cowboys soon have to round up the fuzzy rodents. Have kids compare Sal’s story to other tall tales. Grades 1–5.
Cattle Kids by Cat Urbigkit
“In the West, cowboys come in all sizes, and they aren’t necessarily boys.” So begins this fascinating nonfiction look at life on a ranch from the perspectives of children who’ve grown up on horseback. Photos show kids pitching hay, calving, and more. Grades 1–4.
Cowboy Stories, introduced by Peter Glassman, illustrated by Barry Moser
Middle school teachers, add this one to your stables. It’s a riveting collection of Western shorts by authors ranging from Louis L’Amour and O. Henry to Elmore Leonard and Larry McMurtry. Moser’s spooky woodcuts make it a great choice for this time of year. Grades 6 and up.
Cowboy and Octopus by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith
One of our favorite author/illustrator teams delivers a story about an unusual friendship. Cowboy and Octopus come from two different comic books but must overcome their differences. A funny, retro read. Grades 1–5.