There are many fantastic books about autumn, but two of my favorites for the 3-6 year old crowd are “Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf” by Lois Ehlert, and “The Little Yellow Leaf” by Carin Berger.
Although the two books both cover the concept of leaves changing color in autumn, that’s about where the similarities end.
“Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf” is a super book for any kid who enjoys nature. The story is about a little maple tree that grows in the forest, is moved to the garden center, and finally chosen by a child to plant in their yard. The narrator tells the reader how much the tree is loved, and explains how it changes throughout the seasons. Each collage-like illustration has several labels on it – this definitely adds informative and fun details to the story. At the very end of the book, there are brief paragraphs full of interesting facts about various parts of a tree and a helpful guide to planting a tree. You and your child are guaranteed to learn a thing or two as you read!
“The Little Yellow Leaf” is about courage – in this case, the courage a little leaf needs in order to let go of its oak tree. It’s autumn in the forest, and it seems all the other leaves have fallen – but the Little Yellow Leaf isn’t quite ready yet. The weather gets colder and colder, and finally it snows. The Little Yellow Leaf spots something red in the tree – it’s another leaf! The Little Scarlet Leaf and the Little Yellow Leaf decide to let go together. They float through the air into the autumn breeze. The poetic nature of the text and the beautiful art (also done in a collage-like format) makes this book a peaceful and gentle read –-perfect for a bedtime story.
Here are some fun ideas you can use to extend the stories:
Make a Bird Treat
In “Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf”, the narrator talks about hanging up treats for the birds. This is something fun and easy that you and your child can do (and something the wild birds will appreciate in the colder months). Here are two easy ways to make wild bird treats:
1. Make a pinecone bird feeder by spreading peanut butter all over a pinecone. Roll it in birdseed. Attach a string and hang it from a tree.
2. As the book suggests, cut a shape from a piece of bread. Poke a hole in the top of the shape and string a ribbon through it. Brush the bread with egg white and press the seeds onto it. When it’s dry, hang it outside.
Create a Nature Collage
Go for a walk in the woods and talk about all of the things you see in autumn. Pick up various leaves, acorns, nuts and bark along the way. When you get home, use the items to create a nature collage. If you like, you can also try creating a paper collage, just like the ones in the books!
Talk to your child about how the Little Yellow Leaf felt when it was his turn to let go of the oak tree. Ask your child if there’s anything that makes him or her nervous. Talk about ways to be brave, even if you’re feeling a little bit scared. Share a time that you were apprehensive about something and how you overcame it.
Fall Colors Painting
Look through the books again and focus on the various colors used in the collages. Talk to your child about what colors they think are more common in the fall. Get paints in those colors and encourage your child to make a fall painting.
No matter what you and your child are up to this autumn, be sure to get outside and enjoy the beautiful colors!