Evie Reads • Fall Books for Toddlers

Friday, November 22, 2013

Now I know that everyone is practically already into the 'Christmas spirit,' so this post is coming to you a little late, but technically (or at least in my mind) Thanksgiving is the final Fall holiday, so I'm in the clear. Right? Right. Anyways, I had scheduled this post for two weeks ago, but we went out of town for a family emergency and I've just gotten back into the swing of things around the house, so I'm publishing it a little closer to the end of Fall than I had wanted. Sigh. The end of Fall. How sad. It went by too quickly, but it was a good one, jam packed full of perfect family days and cozy nights. I think this may have been the best Fall that Alex and I have had yet, but oh how I'm looking forward to the next one. Kids do that to you. They make your days, weeks, seasons, life more memorable and joyful. That includes things like books. Evie and I have been going through our stack of Fall books for months now, every day before nap time and every night before bed. I have such a hard time saying no to one more book when she asks, even if it's an hour past bedtime. Sometimes she just isn't in the mood for books, but I am, so I wrestle her into the chair with me and read 'just one,' and sometimes you'll find me reading through her library books myself. I feel kind of ridiculous, since I'm an adult and all and should be doing dishes or reading some lengthy mind-expanding book or something, but children's books fascinate me. There are so many out there that I never experienced as a child and they bring me back to that world of adventure that kids can dream about constantly. When it comes to books about Fall, I'm all about the ones that give you a feeling of comfort and warmth. Not of all these can be described as such, but some can, and those are my favorites.

Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown - Illustrated by Garth Williams: Margaret Wise Brown wrote hundreds of children's books throughout her lifetime, but she is best known for Goodnight Moon (a favorite of ours). Garth Williams is another huge contributor to the world of children's books. His illustrations have appeared in nearly every classic children's book you can think of (Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web, The Little House Collection, and tons of Little Golden Books). So I came into this little book with high expectations, and I wasn't disappointed. It's a short rhyming story of a 'little fur family' that begins with the 'little fur child' running out into the woods to play and ends with his fur parents tucking him into bed with a lovely bedtime song (Ev's favorite part). Though there is nothing specifically mentioning Fall in this books, it exudes magic and warmth; therefore, Fall came to mind while reading it. There is something profoundly sweet and comforting about it, without the sappiness that you sense from a lot of other books. It will make you feel transported the way books used to do before you grew up. There are little odd lines like 'the dark and sunny woods,' but that really only adds to the charm. It may not captivate you in the same way it has me, but it's sure to please your little one.

Who Loves the Fall? by Bob Raczka - Illustrated by Judy Stead: Judy Stead's artwork is colorful and bright, which is what makes this book enjoyable in my opinion. The text is a simple list of people associated with Fall: 'rakers, leapers, corn crop reapers,' quilters, hooters (owls), winged migrators, bonfire builders, hibernators, etc. Although there is no story, rhyme, or reason to the text, toddlers are sure to love it and learn from it, and it is still enjoyable to read. Out of the huge stack of books we went through, this has to be the one best gauged to toddlers. It is simple, but not too simple. We're behind the books with no words, but not ready for the books with entire pages full of text yet and it's hard to find an in the middle sometimes. I definitely recommend it for a parent that wants to introduce the topics and themes of Fall to a toddler, but knows they aren't going to enjoy a lengthy book about names of different leaves or why different leaves turn different colors.

Mouse's First Halloween by Lauren Thompson - Illustrated by Buket Erdogan: I have to say, I picked up Mouse's First Fall before this and did not have high expectations afterwards, but decided to give this one a shot regardless. I'm glad I did because Ev was bored stiff by Mouse's First Fall, but loved this one. Once again, this is a great book geared towards toddlers, since there is nothing creepy or scary in it, but they will still learn about Halloween. It begins with 'One spooky night when the moon was bright, Mouse crept around and this is what he found. . .' It goes on to introduce a different seemingly scary noise on each page that turns out to be nothing. 'Flit, flit, flit' comes from flying, grinning bats, 'rustle, rustle, rustle' from tumbling leaves, and so on. Ev's favorite part is when the mouse says 'Squeak! What could it be?' and she giggles and excitedly turns to the next page to find out. It is a repetitive, gentle Halloween tale with bold and vivid illustrations that I definitely recommend!

It's Fall by Linda Glaser: 'It's Fall' is told from the perspective of a little boy who describes what is happening to animal, plants, and people as Fall approaches. Glaser uses simple sentences that are easy for children to grasp, but their combination creates a feeling of poetry without the use of rhyming. The paper cut illustrations are vivid and textured, the perfect accompaniment to the crisp words used. This is one of those books in which Evie is drawn more to the pictures than the words, but I have a feeling that it has a lot to do with her age. Some of things that are explained are a bit more advanced than she can or cares to grasp at this age, but she will still listen as I read and loves to run her fingers over the pictures of leaves and point out the boy on each page. Overall, I think a child just a bit older (Ev is 20 months.) would enjoy this more, but it is still a good choice when choosing Fall themed books for your toddler. One thing I especially liked was the list of Fall activities that are given at the end of the book. I think it is so important to accompany books with activities so that kids grasp a full understanding of what they're reading about! This is the first of four interrelated books on the seasons and I look forward to reading the others over the next year. If you've stumbled upon this page during a season other than Fall, be sure to check out the others! I'ms use they're just as enjoyable.

In November by Cynthia Rylant - Illustrated by Jill Kastner: This book is similar to 'It's Fall!' in that it presents many aspects of Fall and how people and animals prepare for Fall, but in a much more poetic and warm way. The words are absolutely beautiful and leave you with a feeling of comfort - think 'On the Night You Were Born' focused on nature and without the ryhthmic quality, but not lacking in the least in comparison. The illustrations are timeless and capture the cherished moments of November perfectly. Rylant's words are simple, but filled with wonderful sensory images, similes, and metaphors. One of my favorite lines from the book is her description of the bare November trees - ". . .all sticks and bones. . .spreading their arms like dancers." If I could choose just one book off of this list to call my favorite, this would be it. It will withstand the test of time and become one of your children's favorite and most memorable seasonal books. I'm sure of it!

Leaves by David Ezra Stein: This is a clever little story about a bear's experiences during his first Autumn. The bear is surprised when the leaves begin to fall off the trees and tries in vain to reattach them before burrowing into a cave full of leaves for a long nap. When he awakes, he is met by Spring buds and blossoms and greets the day joyfully. This really is a charming story with childlike, yet graceful illustrations. The story is told with the heart and vocabulary that a toddler is sure to understand. Evie's favorite part is when the bear is shown gathering leaves to fill his den. It looks like he is giving them a big hug and she always giggles and wraps her arms around herself. This is one that is sure to make another appearance in our house, possibly on our forever bookshelf. We are becoming fast fans of David Ezra Stein!

Ol' Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein: Like I said, David Ezra Stein has become a favorite in this house! His writing is always so clever and the illustrations don't disappoint. 'Ol' Mama Squirrel' is a lively tale of a feisty Mama squirrel who is determined to protect her babies no matter what! She says she has raised lots of babies and knows just how to protect them. Whenever the simplest trouble comes around, she springs into action and sounds the alarm - 'chook, chook, chook!' she says. However, her bravery sways a bit when a big bear comes around, but not to worry, Mama's never retreat when it comes to their babies! The ending is my favorite part, so I won't ruin it for you, but this is a must read! Evie loves to hear my best 'chook, chook, chook' squirrel impression and tries to imitate me on each page.

Earl the Squirrel by Don Freeman: Growing up, my absolute favorite book was 'Corduroy' by Don Freeman, so I was delighted to find that he had also written a tale about a squirrel. While this is geared towards slightly older children, neither Evie or I were disappointed. Earl has made friends with a little girl named Jill who gifts him with nuts, a nutcracker, and a scarf, but Earl's mother wants him to leave all these silly gifts behind and learn how to gather his own nuts. Of course he wants to make his mother proud, so he sets out on an adventure to find an Oak tree only to encounter an angry bull dozing underneath it. All ends well in this cheery tale of a little squirrel who is learning how to get along in the world, something we can all relate to. The illustrations are black and white with a touch of red on each page, which still seems to appeal to Ev as much as other books with more colorful pictures. And while the length of the story is a big long for most toddlers, Ev has no problem sitting still for this one, but it could always be broken up into two different story telling times throughout the day if need be.

Nuts to you! by Lois Ehlert: We are big fans of Lois Ehlert around here and this is possibly our favorite from her! It is the story of a mischievous city squirrel who sneaks into an apartment building window and has to be lured back out with a handful of peanuts. The words are clever and energetic and the illustrations are done in Ehlert's classic paper cut style, introducing the reader to a world of bold color and texture. Evie loves to tell me what the squirrel is doing on each page by holding both hands up to her mouth, wiggling her fingers, and pretending she's snacking on something, accompanied by giggles, of course. This is a book that is sure to excite any toddler!

As I'm finishing up this post, we just returned form the library with our first big stack of Winter books. I'll be sharing our favorites with you early next month! If you have any recommendations, feel free to share. We would love to check them out!

Also, notice those fancy boxes below that I finally figured out how to add. If you're new here, browse around through some older posts. The pregnancy ones blow my mind every time I read them. I can't believe this running, screaming, beautiful little girl was the rolling little thing that grew inside me. Pregnancy is wild, man.


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