baby proof: bedtime stories lately.

September 20, 2017

fall picture books | reading my tea leavesWell, we finally did it. We outgrew the shelf space we’d allotted in our tiny apartment for picture books. Too many good books, I guess. (Too many people who love us and know that I’d prefer a new book on the shelf to just about anything else.)

But instead of tossing books to the curb willy nilly, I’ve been eking a little bit of extra staying power out of the shelf by making seasonally themed shelf edits. Playing librarian, in other words. Over the summer, I went through the bookshelf in Faye and Silas’s room and removed anything with an overtly cold-weather theme. This had the dual benefit of freeing up room on the shelf and ensuring that I could have a blessed respite from nightly readings of The Night Before Christmas in the middle of July. Brave Irene and The Tomten and all of their blizzardly or autumnal friends were tucked into a tote bag and secreted off to a hardish-to-reach spot in the closet. We left everything summery or otherwise neutral on the shelf—Jabari Jumps and The Relatives Cameand Blueberries for Salfor instance.

For fall, I’ve continued the shuffle and I’ve been leaning heavily on the public library for rounding out our autumnal book selection. I’ve relegated an old market basket for keeping track of borrowed titles and I’ve tried to keep the shelf in the kids’ room lean enough that everything’s easy enough to put back and easy enough to find.

In case you need some autumnal inspiration of your own, here are few beloved picture books for snuggly fall afternoons. If you have others to share, please do!

(When we do buy books, we love to support our local bookstores—Stories BookshopBooks Are MagicGreenlight Bookstore, and Community Bookstore, to name a few. I’ve provided a few links below to where you can find these titles online or in your own neighborhood bookstores.)fall picture books | reading my tea leaves

Du Iz Tak (Amazon/IndieBound): This favorite book of ours came out last fall and we read it so much last year at this time that it will forever be a fall book in my mind, even though it tracks all the seasons of the year. Faye dressed up as the ladybug in it for Halloween last year and she’s asking for a do-over this year. (BRB, just have to resurrect a cardboard costume…)

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves (IndieBound): There’s a sparkly tree at the end of this book, which is about all you need to know aside from the fact that this book is a sweet tribute to fall and it features a little fox learning to understand what falling leaves are all about.

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn (IndieBound): I mentioned this book last year and it’s still a favorite. I love the bright illustrations, the lyrical prose, and the diversity of characters.

Leaf Man (IndieBound): Photographic collages of fall colored leaves make up the illustrations in this book. The story is sweet, but I’m mostly in it for the leaf identification lessons. 

Little Tree (IndieBound): Fall time metaphors about letting go abound in this story. 

Ox-Cart Man (IndieBound): A very favorite story of mine that follows a 19th century New England family and the work the family does together at harvest and throughout the year. (A thoughtful modern-day reading would include a bit of acknowledgement about gender roles and representation, but it’s still worth a read.)

Possum’s Harvest Moon (IndieBound): Who doesn’t want to attend a harvest soirée? Possum festoons the grasses around his house with lanterns and berries and works to get his hardworking friends to live a little and party. I love the ornery animal friends and the persistent possum in this story.

Pumpkin Moonshine (IndieBound): As someone with a “grandmummy in Connecticut,” this picture book is a fall favorite for Faye. I credit this book entirely for Faye’s enthusiasm about pumpkin carving last year.

The Little Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything (IndieBound): Never too many brave old women role models to be had, if you ask me. This’ll get little guys in the Halloween spirit without being too scary.

More bedtime story inspiration RIGHT THIS WAY.

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  • Reply Sophia September 20, 2017 at 8:49 am

    It’s a a cool, rainy where I am, and the wind was blowing all night and is still going strong, so there are colorful leaves all over the wet ground. I felt cozy already, but this post just made me wish I could run home with my girl in tow, light a candle, and READ. Thank you for the great suggestions. Welcomed inspiration for respite and family/self-care amidst all the troubling news.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE September 20, 2017 at 11:33 am

      Right there with you, Sophia.

  • Reply Jessie September 20, 2017 at 10:52 am

    Thank you so much for this list! It’s always so much fun to find new books to read especially as the seasons change. We are amidst moving and anticipating the arrival of baby #2 so your suggestions for storing away out of season books is timely and so helpful! A book we’ve enjoyed about spring & summer was Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt but now I am longing to read her other book Over and Under the Snow as winter approaches.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE September 20, 2017 at 11:34 am

      Yes, we love that book too! Also love Over and Under the Pond! Need to add Over and Under the Snow to our winter list!

  • Reply Lo September 20, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    I LOVE the idea of themed shelf edits. It’s seasonal decorating without having to buy a bunch of new stuff! Running out of bookshelf space is constantly a problem in my apartment, because books are such a weakness for my husband and me, so thanks for this awesome tip.

  • Reply Sue September 20, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Hi Erin. I read your posts here in England and I have your book. My son is a little older than Faye at 7, but for several years now we have been loving the Christmas book ‘Christmas in Exeter Street’ by Diana Henry. Hope you can get hold of it in the US – it’s charming. Let me know if you can’t and I’ll send you a copy. One to include in your holiday season shelf!
    We also love A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davis with enchanting illustrations by Mark Heard. This is what the Amazon blurb says : “From beachcombing to stargazing, from watching squirrels, ducks and worms to making berry crumble or a winter bird feast, this is a remarkable book – part poetry, part scrapbook of recipes, facts and fragments – and a glorious reminder that the natural world is on our doorstep waiting to be discovered. Mark Hearld’s pictures beautifully reproduce the colours of the
    seasons on woodfree paper, and Nicola Davies’ lyrical words capture the simple loveliness that is everywhere, if only we can look.”
    Loving your blog and the insta feeds of you and your husband. Even dreaming of a Portland vacation next year! You guys would love Cornwall here in the UK, a bit like the northern French coast. All good wishes, Sue

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE September 20, 2017 at 2:22 pm

      thanks so much, Sue! yes! we had that in our house as a kid and my mom still has our copy! such a great one! looking forward to checking out the others!

      • Reply Stephanie September 20, 2017 at 3:43 pm

        Second the recommendation for Nicola Davies! We love A First Book of Nature so, so much.

  • Reply Bethany September 20, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Don’t forget about Pumpkin, Pumpkin! Last fall my (then 15 month old) daughter loved it!

  • Reply Sonja September 20, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    So sweet. Books are always welcome! It’s one of the only areas in my life in which I welcome maximalism with open arms! I spent Saturday knee deep in books spanning generations. Finally some were let go to be loved more elsewhere and all of the autumnal books were arranged in a wicker basket perfect for toddler hands! Of course we continue to read Little Blue Truck Halloween and Room on the Broom over and over but who doesn’t love the spooky whimsy of Halloween in September?

  • Reply Erin September 20, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    This is a great list! We also love The Apple Pie That Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson and The Gold Leaf by Kirsten Hall.

  • Reply BethsMomToo September 20, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    We happen to live in the area where “The Ox Cart Man” takes place, so my children always loved it! They also loved “Charlie Needs a Cloak”. We raised sheep & shearing was common in the fall. It’s a fun story & quite informative about wool & weaving. They especially enjoyed finding the little mouse on each page to see what he was taking for his nest.

  • Reply Meredith September 20, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    Oh, Ox-Cart Man! One of Mymensingh favorites as a kid and I love Cooney’s beautiful illustrations so much that I framed a few pages from an old copy I found once. I grew up near Portsmouth and it evokes all those childhood feelings. I always tear up a little when he kisses his ox on the nose.

    • Reply Meredith September 20, 2017 at 11:10 pm

      Please forgive whatever crazy autocorrect happened above! Yikes!

  • Reply Crystine September 21, 2017 at 2:05 am

    I read about this on another blog years ago and since then have a basket or box dedicated to seasons. It’s so nice to put away books only to re-discover them later! That said, it’s also quite lovely to read about summer when the winter rains are relentless 🙂

  • Reply Cynthia Craig September 21, 2017 at 8:10 am

    Oh do you know “Wild Child” by Lynn Plourde with amazing illustrations by Greg Couch..which will lead you to ” Winter Waits ” and on to the next two seasons….so beautiful and the kind of books where the more you look the more you see.

  • Reply Heather September 21, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    I love your children’s book lists! My girls are six and three, so your suggestions are perfect for their ages. Whenever you write a new post, I open a tab for my library account and order the whole lot at once! 🙂 Thank you, Erin!

  • Reply Callie Avis September 21, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    Add Sophie’s Squash to your list. It’s adorable.

  • Reply Catarina September 22, 2017 at 4:06 pm
    This Astrid Lindgren title with adorable 1970s illustrations by Ilon Wikland makes everone wanna go to school! ✏️
    Thank you for a lovely blog!

  • Reply Elizabeth September 28, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    The Little Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything is one of my favorites–last year I gifted two copies to friends with little ones, and got a new copy for me, too.

  • Reply Sophia October 8, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Just read the NYT book reviews of “Wee Sister Strange” and “The Call of the Swamp” and thought of you. Going to actually order copies for my daughter’s upcoming bday. They both look really interesting and evocative of fall.

    Also always on the hunt for stories that show same-sex parents without actually being about same-sex parents, if you know what I mean. A good story, with good illustrations, where the child protagonist just happens to have two moms, say, but has an adventure unrelated to that fact. Visual representation, where the child has more to her story than just her parents–but we still see them, and they happen to not be “mom and dad”–is what I’m so hoping to see more of. Hard to find, but there are a few more this year than in years past. We used to always change the words to “mommy and mama”, but as our daughter grows, she catches on more…

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE October 8, 2017 at 11:50 am

      Yes, I know just what you mean! Please share any titles if you’ve found them. I always hunt too and often find books that are very much on the nose, which is great, but fewer that are more subtle.

  • Reply Kirsten November 5, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    I love these posts. My son is just starting to really get into books and I’m excited to collect books for the upcoming seasons. Will you do any posts on your favourite Christmas books? Please!

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