I had so much fun putting together a summer read aloud list and a winter read aloud list earlier this year, it seemed like a good idea to make it a seasonal series. I chose these books as fall read alouds, not necessarily because they are set during the autumnal season, but because reading them makes me feel all cozy and in need of a mug of apple cider. I also selected titles that I believe the whole family will enjoy listening to, so you can read them at bedtime, at an autumn picnic, or on the couch while a crisp wind empties the trees of their leaves. (Don’t bother spending your time raking them up. Read another book instead.)
This is an eclectic collection of fall read aloud books, with everything from old-fashioned classic stories, to mysteries and even a fantasy or two. They are middle grade novels, but can be enjoyed by kids and grown-ups alike. I’ve indicated my opinion for a listening age with each book, but you should make your own judgements. Happy reading!
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Dominic. I can’t sing the praises of this book enough. It has easily become one of my favorite read aloud chapter books, yet. It was such a good read aloud that we finished it in one day! (We are very dedicated readers.) I am embarrassed to admit, I didn’t even realize Steig wrote chapter books. Dominic is a dog who sets out for adventure. Along the way he meets the Doomsday Gang, a band of ne’er-do-wells who are spreading havoc among the local population. Dominic easily foils the greedy gang and earns everyone’s awe and respect. His kindness towards towards others earns him a reward, which he spreads around to the less fortunate as he continues on his journey. Dominic has such a positive attitude towards life, you and your kids can’t help but smile throughout the book. Read it! Ages 5 and up.
Emil and the Detectives is another charmer you may not have read yet. This 1929 German classic is considered the first novel to feature a juvenile detective. Emil’s mom puts him on a train to visit his grandmother in Berlin. In his pocket is an envelope full of money, which he is instructed not to lose. But when he falls asleep on the train the money is stolen. Emil doesn’t want to show up without the money so he gets off the train in pursuit of the thief. In town he meets a group of boys and they all band together to get the money back. What makes this such a fun read aloud book is the delightful enthusiasm and creativity of the boys’ attempts to follow the thief and retrieve the money. The action moves swiftly along, keeping young listeners on their toes and kids and adults alike, will enjoy hearing how it all works out. Ages 5 and up.
Emil and the Great Escape. Here’s another Emil your kids will love. The author of Pippi Longstocking also wrote several books about Emil, a young boy who lives on a farm with his parents, baby sister, a farm hand and housemaid. Much to the delight of my 6 year old, who loves books about well-meaning troublemakers, Emil’s grand sense of adventure and his natural goodwill gets him into all sorts of sorts of scrapes, but it is impossible to think badly of a boy who wants to help others so much. There are three books and they are well worth hunting down. Other books: Emil and the Clever Pig, Emil and the Sneaky Rat. Ages 4 and up.
The Moffats. I recently read Ginger Pye and Pinky Pye to my 6 year old (He loved them, by the way.) and a mention of the Moffat family prompted me to pick this book up again. If you are looking for a gentle, humorous classic read aloud book, this is a good choice. The Moffat family lives in the town of Cranberry and the Moffat children do things like get stuck in bread boxes, hop on trains and enjoy life around them without the aid of an ipad. There are several books in the series: The Middle Moffat, Rufus M., The Moffat Museum. Ages 5 and up.
A Tangle of Knots. This is the third book by Lisa Graff that I have recommended. I just adore her writing. In Poughkeepsie, New York almost everyone has a special, magical quality, called a Talent. Some people have a knack for knitting, some for getting lost, some for tying knots, and still others are especially adept at spitting. Cady can make marvelous cakes. She lives in an orphanage with Miss Mallory who has a Talent for matching children with adoptive families. The story is told from the point of view of different supporting characters. In the midst of it all is a Talent thief, whose search for a long lost peanut butter recipe brings all the plot lines together. Graff’s skill and ability to draw emotionally complex but relatable characters makes it a joy to read her books. Ages 7 and up.
Frindle. Although I’ve recommended other books by Andrew Clements, I believe this is the first time I’ve put his most famous novel on a list. Frindle is the story of Nick Allen who decides to show his vocabulary-obsessed fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Granger, that if he wants to, he can invent a new word that will end up in the dictionary. With the help of his friends, Nick succeeds in renaming a “pen” a “frindle”. Both my kids found this book hilarious. Ages 6 and up, but best appreciated by 7 and up.
If you’ve read all the Ramona books, head back to the library shelves and pick up a copy of Ellen Tebbits. We recently re-listened to the audiobook and it struck me that while Ellen may not get into as much trouble as Ramona, it is somewhat easier to sympathize with Ellen than Ramona. Her struggles are more everyday than Ramona’s, and include a desire to please her teacher, her heartbreak over a quarrel with her best friend and trying to avoid embarrassment during ballet class. Ages 4 and up.
Firefly Hollow. I suppose this would fit in nicely with a summer reading list, but it is a snuggly kind of book, even though it takes place in late summer. My younger son and I just finished this book about a quartet of characters who are all searching to become something more than what they are right now. Firefly wants to fly to the moon, Cricket wants to learn to catch. The boy Peter needs to overcome his sadness and Vole wants to be brave enough to sail away on his boat. It is their dreams that bring them together. There are also lovely, colorful illustrations. Ages 6 and up.
My younger son just finished listing to the Where the Mountain Meets the Moon audiobook three times in a row, so now it’s time for me to read aloud its companion novel, Starry River of the Sky. As with the earlier book, the main narrative is interspersed with fable-like stories told by the characters. Runaway Rendi finds himself in the Village of Clear Sky where the moon is missing. Only Rendi can hear it moaning at night. When a mysterious woman comes to stay in the village, her storytelling may provide some answers. A fascinating and gorgeous book. Ages 6 and up.
A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children. There’s no reason not to read poetry this season! In fact, it’s always time to read poetry. If you aren’t convinced, read 8 ways poetry can calm your kids. It may seem cheesy to recommend a collection curated by a celebrity of sorts, this is one of my favorite collections. For more recommendations, check out this list of unique and non-boring poetry, and a list of diverse poetry books. Ages 0 and up.
Bud, Not Buddy. Christopher Paul Curtis has fast become one of my favorite middle grade authors. I’ve expressed my devotion to his book, The Watsons go to Birmingham several times and it’s time to recommend another Curtis novel. 10 year old Buddy runs away from a series of unpleasant foster homes and sets out to find his father, whom he believes to be a jazz musician. Set in the depression, Curtis’ writing is filled with humor as well as serious truths. Ultimately, it’s an optimistic book, full of laughs and one cannot help but fall in love with Buddy. Winner of the 2000 Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award. Ages 7 and up.
Moominvalley in November. I’ve had the lovable Moomins on my other seasonal read aloud lists, so it’s only fitting I include these whimsical and entertaining creatures on a list of fall read alouds, too! While the Moomins are away from home, a band of curious fellows with names like Fillyjonk, Grandpa-Grumble, Snufkin, and Toft take up residence and try to figure out what’s missing in their lives. Ages 5 and up, although if your child is not an experienced listener of chapter books, I’d say 6 or 7 and up.
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher made me laugh out loud. I read the book myself and read aloud some of the most humorous passages to my kids while they were busy on the floor with their Pokemon (sigh). A family of 2 dads and 4 adopted sons (all together they span several ethnicities and religions) lead a rather disordered and hilarious lifestyle. The boys all have different personalities, which could lend themselves to stereotypes, but thankfully do not. After finishing this book I wanted to move right in to the Fletcher household, if only to try out their DIY hockey rink. (You’ll have to read it to find out.) Ages 6 and up.
Looking for fall themed picture books? I recommend these lists:
- 25 favorite picture books for fall (The Library Adventure)
- Cozy books for fall (KCEdventures)
- Children’s books about fall (Delightful Children’s Books)
Themed for fall:
- November is Native American Heritage Month! Read these Native American folktales
- September-October is Hispanic Heritage Month. Read these Latin American folktales.
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