6 Autumn Fall Picture Books for Upper Elementary Classrooms


One of the trickiest things that I have found about being an upper elementary teacher is the ability to stay on track with content and standard-based learning while celebrating the all-engaging seasons and holidays in the classroom.  

Even though students are getting older in the upper grades, they still love to celebrate the changing of seasons and each of the holidays, too! And to be honest, so do I! I always look forward to the beginning of each new month when I can take out my monthly stack of picture books, change out the door décor, and get ready to dive into each holiday. 

As the years go by and more and more standards are introduced and the scope and sequence gets tighter and tighter, it gets harder to squeeze in the all engaging seasonal activities! 

With a little creativity, engaging picture books, and content alignment, you can still celebrate each season in your classroom! 

These fall picture books and activities are the perfect way to welcome autumn into your upper elementary classroom while providing content-based lessons and addressing the standards, too!

Here are my favorite read-aloud books to share with students during the autumn season. Read on to find out more about each book and be sure to grab the coordinating FREE student activity for each book at the bottom of this post. 

The Scarecrow's Dance  Written by: Jane Yolen

picture book freebiesI cannot rave about this book enough! There is no end to the lessons that you can do following a read-aloud of this book, as it easily connects to many different reading and writing units and standards. This book follows a nighttime adventure of a scarecrow that is not sure about his place in the world. It is chock full of figurative language with similes, metaphors, alliteration, and personification. It is written in a way that students will discover these writing techniques on their own, even if you have not introduced these concepts yet, making this a great book to tie into revising lessons during your writing block. This book also filled with amazing word choice! With synonyms on almost every page for walk, like trotting, jogging and pirouetted, it pairs nicely with lessons on synonyms, antonyms, using a thesaurus, and revising a written piece for better word choice. Lastly, I love to talk about context clues with this book. Many words included are new to my students, like forlorn, making this a great way to introduce or review the use of context clues to help you understand the text you are reading

Too Many Pumpkins Written by: Linda White

autumn picture book freebieI have gone through so many copies of this book in my teaching career! We read it several times each year and the kids always love to revisit this book on their own because of the great story and amazing illustrations. Though a longer story, the kids are always engaged and on the edge of their seat with the turn of each page. This book follows the main character, Rebecca Estelle, as she tries to rid her yard of pumpkins. The story takes place over the course of a year, allowing students to see the progression of how pumpkins grow from seed to fruit.  With too many pumpkins and not enough uses, this book is a great backdrop to writing math multiplication word problems. This is a book that you will want to read again and again for different uses, one great use is summary writing. Read this post to find out how I repurpose read alouds in my classroom. Grab a coordinating activity for FREE at the bottom of this post.

Why Do Leaves Change Color? Written by: Betsy Maestro

autumn picture book free
I read this book during my first year of teaching and it has become a staple in my classroom, being read aloud to my students each and every fall season. Is there a better nonfiction author than Betsy Maestro? Though filled with high-level concepts, content, and vocabulary such as chlorophyll, pigment, and tannin, your students will easily understand how leaves change color. I love dissecting this book for its content and informational text writing style and also introduce note taking with the students. The leaf rubbing activity at the end of the book is a must and a great science-art connection. 

autumn picture book free

Winter is Coming Written by: Tony Johnston

This book is beautifully illustrated by the incredibly talented Jim LaMarche. (I can’t rave enough about his book The Raft, see more about that book HERE) Each page is filled with beauty with written words and pictures all about fall. It follows a young girl who keenly observes her setting, noticing each and every small detail that signals autumn is on the way. She keeps track of all she observes in her own notebooks, through the words and sketches she records. What better activities than to take the kids on an autumn walk and have them do the same! This is a great way to teach descriptive writing, focusing specifically on writing descriptive settings.

Because of an Acorn Written by: Lola M. Schaefer and Adam Schaefer

autumn fall picture book freeI love this book because it is an upper elementary version of circular stories. This story leads to meaningful discussions about the power of an acorn and will give your students opportunities to predict with each turn of the page. This book is short and sweet and will not take a lot of time to read aloud, but the message of the book will stay with your students for a lifetime. Don’t forget to read the informational pages at the end that help students understand how important forests and ecosystems are to our planet. 

Those Darn Squirrels! Written by Adam Rubin

fall picture book freeI came across this book in the discard pile of my local library many years ago and have enjoyed reading it with my students every year since! In this story, Old Man Fookwire who is trying to feed his birds gets wrapped up in a battle of wits with the pesky seed-stealing squirrels. Fookwire and squirrels take turns devising plans and carrying them out to stop the other. This is the perfect book to connect to your STEM lessons and NGSS engineer, plan, and design standards. Grab a coordinating activity for FREE right here!

There is nothing more powerful than reading aloud to students. I look forward to sharing each and every one of these picture books with my students as we welcome the season of fall before the cold weather of winter hits! I hope that you enjoy sharing them with your students, too! 

fall picture book free

Looking for an all-in-one Interactive Read Aloud Resource this fall season? Click HERE.

Check out my favorite fall activities HERE

Like this Fall Close Reading Pack

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