20 Picture Books to Celebrate Fall Holidays and Traditions
It’s fall, y’all! That magical time of year when nothing sounds more appealing than pumpkin spice anything, and you can hardly visit anywhere without spotting a mum, apple-flavored something, or pile of pumpkins.
This collection of cozy books is perfect for celebrating autumn as well as many of the holidays and celebrations that take place between now and the start of winter.
Our list features stories about holidays like the Mid-Autumn Festival, Diwali, and Dia de los Muertos, as well as stories that celebrate and amplify Latine/Hispanic and Native American Heritage. These books can help kids connect with their identities, widen their worldviews and nurture their innate empathy and consideration for others and the world around them.
It is so important for children who are underrepresented in print and media to read books that authentically and positively represent them and their experiences, and yet, it’s just as important for kids who are overrepresented to read books about people, cultures and experiences that may be dissimilar to them.
Educators and caregivers are uniquely positioned to better expose children to books that will deepen their understanding, curiosity and compassion for the world around them. We believe that this collection of books is the perfect way to connect with kids this fall.
This fall, you may choose to celebrate and/or learn about:
Latine/Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15)
First Day of Fall (September 22)
Rosh Hashanah (September 15-17)
International Day of Peace (September 21)
Yom Kippur (September 24-25)
Mid-Autumn Festival (September 29)
Indigenous Peoples Day (October 10)
Halloween (October 31)
Native American Heritage Month (November)
National Homeless Awareness Month (November)
Diwali (November 12)
Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead (November 1-2)
Election Day (November 7)
Thanksgiving (November 23)
*Note: all dates are for the 2023 calendar year.
Read about some of our favorite fall reads below! For a complete list of our recommendations, visit our Bookshop page.
Author/Illustrator: Renee Kurilla | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
"Colors bursting, shadows tall. There’s lots to celebrate—it’s fall!
Break out your fuzzy socks and cozy scarves! Bring on the doughnuts, cider, and pies! It’s time for corn mazes, trick-or-treating, and all the Thanksgiving food you can eat.… It’s fall! With playful rhymes and lively illustrations, this celebratory book shows the many ways we welcome and enjoy a special season."
If You Find a Leaf
Author/Illustrator: Aimee Sicuro | Publisher: Random House Studio
This wonderful book will inspire kids to be more imaginative and creative. It celebrates all the beautiful things about fall leaves - their vibrant hues, crunchy textures and incredible uniqueness. The illustrator uses real leaves to craft each picture and shares ideas for how kids can preserve their own leaves and create with them.
This book is the perfect introduction and inspiration for fall leaf adventures!
Author: JaNay Brown-Wood | Illustrator: Samara Hardy | Publisher: Peachtree
Amara’s Farm is such a festive fall read. Readers will join Amara and her friends as they search the farm for pumpkins for a potluck party. They investigate and discover many delicious fruits and vegetables along the way!
This book is jam packed with wonderful learning and vocabulary about different fall harvests, like apples, ocra, persimmons and pumpkins. Kids will come away with new knowledge about types of fruits and vegetables, and an appreciation for nature’s bounty. Amara’s Farm also includes a recipe to make your own pumpkin bread!
Author/Illustrator: Michaela Goade | Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Berry Song is a gorgeous celebration of nature, tradition, and togetherness. First and foremost, this is a book about kinship - about honoring and respecting each other, our ancestors and the earth. In Berry Song, a young girl and her grandmother forage throughout the seasons for gifts from the earth - salmon, herring eggs, and berries. While they collect, they thank the land and sea for its many treasures and they only take what they need.
The author/illustrator of this book is an enrolled member of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Michaela’s Tlingit name is Sheit.een and she is of the Kiks.ádi Clan (Raven/Frog) from Sheet’ká. For this book, she drew inspiration from her home of Sitka, Alaska and the Indigenous tradition of passing along wisdom while harvesting together.
Measuring a Year: a Rosh Hashanah Story
Author: Linda Elovitz Marshall | Illustrator: Zara Gonzalez Hoang | Publisher: Abrams Appleseed
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur mark the beginning of the Jewish New Year - these are two of Judaism's holiest days. In Measuring a Year, children will join the characters as they celebrate and reflect on their year - remembering the moments that brought them joy and happiness, and the ones that challenged them and helped them grow. Everyone can connect to the universal feeling of nostalgia and reflection.
This book is an important addition to kidlit that helps children who are typically underrepresented in books feel affirmed.
Looking for more books that celebrate Jewish culture? Don’t miss Two New Years, Here is the World and Apples, Apples, All Year Round: a Celebration of Jewish Holidays. Gitty and Kvetch and Bubbie and Rivka’s Best Ever Challah (So Far!) are two additional books that amplify Jewish voices.
Author: Thirty Umrigar | Illustrator: Nidhi Chanani | Publisher: Scholastic Press
Binny is excited to share about the Festival of Lights in her classroom - she wants to find the perfect words so that her classmates understand how special it is. All children will relate to Binny and her excitement to share about Diwali. This authentic depiction of the holiday will also validate and affirm readers who celebrate, and teach kids who do not yet know about Diwali what makes it such an important and joyous celebration.
If you’re looking for more books about Diwali, we recommend, My Diwali Light, It’s Diwali, Archie Celebrates Diwali.
Gustavo the Shy Ghost
Author/Illustrator: Flavia Z. Drago | Publisher: Candlewick
Readers will delight in this story about Gustavo, a sweet and shy ghost who yearns to be loved and appreciated for exactly who he is. He wants to make friends and share his love for the violin but every time he tries to connect with anyone, they just can’t see him. Finally, with Day of the Dead approaching, he finds a way to nurture the friendships he’s always hoped for.
We love this book because Gustavo never has to change anything about himself to make (or keep!) friends. They love his quiet loyalty, and the way he shows up for them every day.
Don’t miss the other books in this series, Leila the Perfect Witch and Vlad, the Fabulous Vampire. Leila wants to win a baking competition in her community so she bands together with her sisters and family. This sweet book is about the importance of family, tradition and accepting that imperfect things can still bring you a lot of joy and happiness.
At first, Vlad doesn't think he's a very good vampire because he has rosy cheeks that make him look a teensy bit alive (gasp!). Vlad soon discovers that he has a friend with a pink secret, too. This is another sweet story story about being true to yourself and finding your community. Babies and young toddlers may also enjoy her board book, Monsters Play! We love these books!
All of these books are available in Spanish.
Amara and the Bats
Author/Illustrator: Emma Reynolds | Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Amara and the Bats is an excellent story to read anytime of the year, but especially during the spooky season. Amara is not afraid of bats like other people, in fact, she loves them and wants to protect them. She enjoys learning about all kinds of bat facts and watching them fly in her neighborhood at night.
When Amara moves and discovers that nobody has seen bats there for a long time, she discovers that it’s because too many trees are being cut down. Soon, she’s engaging her whole community in a plan to save the bats! This book reminds us all that we have a role to play in protecting earth and its creatures and that nobody is too small to make a difference.
Looking for more Halloween reads? Don’t miss A Spoonful of Frogs, If Your Babysitter is a Bruja, Beatrice Likes the Dark, Halloween is Coming!, Pick a Pumpkin, Hardly Haunted, and 10 Spooky Pumpkins.
Little Witch Hazel: a Year in the Forest
Author/Illustrator: Phoebe Wahl | Publisher: Tundra Books
This delightful book is an absolute favorite of ours. It’s separated into four chapters based on the seasons and chronicles a year in the life of Little Witch Hazel. She is a tiny witch and midwife who always makes time to help friends big and small. Luckily, when she finds herself in need of help, someone special is there to return the favor!
The illustrations are full of so many thoughtful details that you can read this story over and over again and notice something new each time. We love how this book honors and celebrates nature, togetherness and friendship - it’s sure to become a very loved book in your collection!
Keepunumuk: A Weeachumun's Thanksgiving Story
Author: Danielle Greendeer, Anthony Perrt and Alexis Bunten | Illustrator: Gary Meeches Sr. | Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
"The Thanksgiving story that most Americans know celebrates the Pilgrims. But without members of the Wampanoag tribe who already lived on the land where the Pilgrims settled, the Pilgrims would never have made it through their first winter. And without Weeâchumun (corn), the Native people wouldn't have helped.
An important picture book honoring both the history and tradition that surrounds the story of the first Thanksgiving."
If you're looking for more Thanksgiving origin stories, don't miss Balloons Over Broadway, the true story of the first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and Giving Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday.
For more general books about gratitude, you might be interested in, Give, Be a Good Ancestor, Harvest Days: Giving Thanks Around the World, The Thank You Book (board book), and Thank You for the Little Things.
Author/Illustrator: Esteli Meza | Publisher: Orchard Books
When Conejo’s home blows away in a fall wind, he sets out on a journey to find home again. He encounters many friends and helpers along the way who support and uplift him. Even still, he ultimately realizes it’s okay, and even necessary, to sit with his sadness.
This is a timely and beautiful book that’s so relatable for anyone who has ever longed for home and the feeling of belonging. It especially makes us think of immigrants and refugees who are tasked with rebuilding a home in the most challenging of circumstances.
V is for Voting
Author: Kate Farrell | Illustrator: Caitlin Kuhwald | Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
With election season approaching, what better way to engage future voters than to help them understand the power of collective action? This ABC style book introduces important terms and concepts associated with voting and activism. It’s engaging enough to read through all at once or can be broken into parts to explore more deeply.
You can also watch one of our staff members read this story on our Youtube page! Click here.