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Growing Reader

A Cornucopia of Creativity: Fall Books and Activities for the Whole Family

by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Photo credit: Jupiterimages, Photolibrary/Getty Images

Every season has its own spirit, and autumn here in the Northeast always feels hopeful to me. There’s something in the air, a feeling of transformation. Many are embarking upon a new school year, the leaves are turning color, the warmth of the sun feels different, the wind blows with increasing vigor.

It’s the time of year when my thoughts of making simmer and stew; I’m ready for projects, and learning something new. As we ease into the new energy of autumn, here are six fall-oriented books and projects to help you and your family savor the season.

  • Lovely Leaves

  • READ: Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

    Ehlert is well known for her quietly lovely books celebrating the natural world. Leaf Man goes “where the wind blows,” and the vivid collages are bound to jumpstart imaginative play, art projects, nature walks, and more. Leaf Man includes an informative author’s note and tips for identifying leaf varieties.

  • MAKE: Leaf Alphabet Collage Cards

    Encouraging us to “think of leaves as nature’s tissue paper,” these alphabet leaf cards are naturally beautiful for any age.

  • Squeezable Squirrels

  • READ: Gooseberry Park by Cynthia Rylant

    Squirrels rule in the fall, and Rylant’s delightful chapter book fantasy features Stumpy Squirrel, who is lost after seeking help for her newborn triplets. Animal friends are in abundance, and their love and ingenuity in caring for the baby squirrels and tracking down Stumpy make this slim volume pack a real heartwarming punch.

  • MAKE: Glove Squirrel

    Okay, so it was apparently meant to be a chipmunk, but there is a hearty online debate among makers, many of whom clearly see “squirrel.” I’m Team “Both” — a few quick tweaks and you’ve got an adorable Stumpy of your own. I couldn’t resist this ingenious stuffie-from-a-glove (!), tutorial.

  • Basket-Building Inspiration

  • READ: Kunu’s Basket by Lee DeCora Francis

    Kunu’s life on a Penobscot Indian reservation in Maine is realistically depicted in this contemporary story that celebrates cultural heritage and tradition in the midst of modern life. As many in the U.S. prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this fall, skip the “first Thanksgiving” stereotypes and opt for Kunu’s story of patience and perseverance that any child can relate to.

  • MAKE: Pine Needle Coil Basket

    Each American Indian Nation has its own artistic style, traditions, and techniques. After reading about Kunu’s Penobscot basket, try making a pine needle basket, an art practiced by many, including the Coushatta and Tunica-Biloxi of Louisiana, Seminole of Florida, and Cherokee in North Carolina.

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