Picture Book Basket // September
I've become borderline obsessed with seasons. I know I'm not alone in this. Part of it comes from the actual changes in weather and scenery as the months go by--the natural flow of things--but another side is the fact that I'm about 99.9% in charge of the way I spend my days. If I don't break things up a little, my days at home with a toddler can run together and then I can start losing my mind. Allowing the seasons to influence my rhythm has become a beautiful way to celebrate everyday life. Today is a little different from yesterday and last week and last month. Children are slowly growing and the outside air is slowly changing. How can we honor today by how we spend our time? Anyway, it works in my head and so I go with it.
I can't decide if I love seasonal books or seasonal food more.
Both together, please.
Throw in a seasonal family outing
involving seasonal food
followed by reading a stack of seasonal books
and I'm just about the happiest I can be.
As the month comes to an end, here is a list of our most beloved September books to read as mom and kids. They mostly revolve around school, farms, and apples. All of us with our varying ages and attention spans love these books and look forward to pulling them out during this time of year.
The Apple Doll, by Elisa Kleven
Our favorite of all the favorite fall books. Lizzy is nervous about her first day of school and wishes she could stay up in the branches of her apple tree forever. She decides to bring an apple from her tree with her to school to give her courage and company. What follows is a story of pushing through shyness and sharing your creative light! We found this one at the library years ago and it is now out of print. Crossing my fingers to stumble upon a used copy someday. For now, we continue to check this out from the library. Elisa Kleven's illustrations are glorious!
Applesauce Season, by Eden Ross Lipson
A cute story about family members choosing apples at the market, making applesauce, and celebrating the season. Also out of print, but your library should have copies.
Bring Me Some Apples and I'll Make You a Pie, by Robbin Gourley
More than just a picture-book biography, this story follows chef Edna Lewis as a young girl picking sun-ripened produce around the year. Songs, rhymes, and beautiful watercolors highlight how Edna grew up using the produce of the season to preserve and enjoy, leading her to one day become a famous chef specializing in regional Southern cooking. Lots of recipes in the back of this one! The photograph of the real Edna at the back makes me wish I could've known her; she seems like a genuine kind soul.
Johnny Appleseed, by Reeve Lindbergh
I like this version illustrated by Kathy Jakobsen the very best. Her folk art is exquisite and her intense color palette really celebrates the shades of fall.
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, by Marjorie Priceman
We had tried this book in previous years and I never loved it. But this year, Owen the Toddler is very into baking and pretend food and "making dinner" with his big bowl and wooden spoon. He loves this book! The story follows a girl who wants to make an apple pie, but the market is closed. So she decides to travel around the world to gather her ingredients from their sources: Italy for wheat, England for milk, Sri Lanka for cinnamon, and on and on. Very cute and has a recipe in the back!
How Do Apples Grow?, by Jill McDonald
Jill McDonald is so wonderful! I haven't met a book in her Hello, World series that I don't love. They are the finest non-fiction books for little ones I have found and her illustrations are cheerful and beautiful. She is even local to the Kansas City area! This book about apples pares down the events from seed to apple in just enough details to be interesting to me and my toddler. Yes and yes.
Autumn, by Gerda Muller
Books without words can be difficult to "read" to a child, but we love to sit and look through the details of this book about the signs and activities of autumn. This one gets me in the mood for fall especially well and it shows lots of simple ideas for how to welcome the season with children. Ms. Muller has also published books about the other three seasons. Lovely!
Ox-Cart Man, by Donald Hall
Beautifully illustrated by the great Barbara Cooney, this old-fashioned story shows a family harvesting crops and making goods to sell at the city market each fall. I just love the ingenuity and hard work that each family member shows. The story shows a beautiful seasonal flow that is simple enough for a toddler to understand.
The Jolly Barnyard, by Annie North Bedford
We have owned this classic golden book for many years now--its spine is frayed and its pages are curled--but we love it still! Kind Farmer Brown takes such good care of his animals that they decide to be extra good for him on his birthday. The text is lyrical and lends itself perfectly to your best animal impressions. The illustrator, Tibor Gergely, is a long-time favorite.
S is for School: A Classroom Alphabet, by Greg Paprocki
I discovered Greg Paprocki this year and this is my favorite of his. His illustrations feel vintage but all kinds of kids are depicted which is hard to come by in older picture books. This is a great ABC book to celebrate going back to school or help explain to a toddler where his sisters go all day!
The Day You Begin, by Jacqueline Woodson
This book is based on a poem from Jacqueline Woodson's memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, which is a great read in its own right. Written in Woodson's characteristic powerful verse, this book evokes strong emotions about being the one who stands out in a room--specifically at school--and the beauty that comes when we are brave enough to show our differences and similarities. Breathtaking!
All Are Welcome, by Alexandra Penfold
I tear up whenever I read this book about all kinds of children from all different backgrounds starting school together. Suzanne Kaufman's illustrations have so many details to study. With an optimistic and encouraging voice, this book speaks to everyone in the human race and is exactly the kind of book I want to be reading to my children. So important; so filled with love. "No matter how you start your day, what you wear when you play, or if you come from far away, all are welcome here."
We Like Kindergarten, by Clara Cassidy
Oh, how I love Eloise Wilkin! Her pictures of children and their grown-ups are so sweet and innocent, and the babies are always extra chubby. I remember reading this book about a day at kindergarten with my mother when I was young. My daughters still come home and play school with their stuffed animals the way Carol does at the end. This book is out of print, but thrift stores usually have a little stack of golden books--that's where I found my copy!