The crisp days of autumn are a great time to schedule some family read aloud time. And you'll need a cheerful and heartwarming book to match the season. These titles make great fall read aloud books, not necessarily because they are set during the autumnal season, but because reading them will make you feel cozy and in need of a mug of apple cider!
These are fall read aloud books that the whole family will enjoy, 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.) Note that age recommendations are for listeners.
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DOMINIC by William Steig
This is one of our favorite read aloud books! Dominic is a dog who sets out to find 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, your kids will be smiling from ear to ear while reading. Ages 5 and up.
EMIL AND THE DETECTIVES by Erich Kästner
Maurice Sendak said, "Read it and you will be happy." That's the only recommendation for this German classic mystery book that you need! Written in 1929, Emil and the Detectives is generally considered to be the first novel to feature a juvenile detective. When Emil is sedated with laced chocolate and robbed on a train of his grandmother’s money he doesn’t want to let his family down so he sets out to solve the crime himself. Fast-paced and suspenseful, this story will keep young readers eager for the resolution. Great as a read aloud. Ages 8 and up.
EMIL'S CLEVER PIG (series) by Astrid Lindgren
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Here's a rascal 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 then-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 scrapes, but it is impossible to think badly of a boy who wants to help others so much. Ages 4 and up.
THE MOFFATS by Eleanor Estes
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 by Lisa Graff
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 by Andrew Clements
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.
ELLEN TEBBITS by Beverly Cleary
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 by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Christopher Denise
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.
STARRY RIVER OF THE SKY by Grace Lin
As with Lin's early book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, 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 edited by Caroline Kennedy, illustrated by Jon J. Muth
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. Ages 0 and up.
BUD, NOT BUDDY by Christopher Paul Curtis
Curtis is one my favorite middle grade authors. 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. Ages 7 and up.
MOOMINVALLEY IN NOVEMBER by Tove Jansson
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 by Dana Alison Levy
This book made me laugh out loud. 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.
Other seasonal read aloud lists for the whole family: