Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Fruits of Fall

While students across the country are studying apples and pumpkins, I thought this might be an appropriate time to recommend some of my favorite titles for use in the classroom. Since my interest here tends more towards the historic and scientific, you'll find that this list is largely focused on the growing and harvesting of these fruits. (Please note that I have not included any titles about Johnny Appleseed. That's another list entirely!)

Apples, written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons - From blossom to pollination to picking, this book presents information about how apples grow, their various parts, and the different varieties. Instructions on how to plant and care for an apple tree are included.

The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree
, written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons - In this story, Arnold and his dog play in and around their apple tree throughout the year. In the spring they build a swing and smell the apple blossoms, in summer they build a tree house, in fall they rake leaves and pick apples, and in winter they build a fort.

How Do Apples Grow?, written by Betsy Maestro and illustrated by Guilio Maestro - This book in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out-Science series presents the growth of an apple from blossom to fruit.

The Apple Pie Tree, written by Zoe Hall and illustrated by Shari Halpern - An apple tree grows through the seasons, providing fruit for a pie in the fall. The seasonal growth is described by two sisters who closely watch the tree in their back yard. In addition to learning about the growth cycle of the tree, readers learn about the role of bees and the weather in the production of the fruit.

Apples, written by Jacqueline Farmer and illustrated by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes - This book examines how apples are grown and harvested, covering some basic botany concepts (parts of the flower and pollination) and more sophisticated ones (grafting) along the way. A terrifically organized and illustrated chart of apple varieties is included. Readers can also find facts about apples, apple world records and a recipe for apple pie.

The Life and Times of the Apple, written by Charles Micucci - This book presents a variety of facts about apples, including how they grow, crossbreeding and grafting techniques, harvesting practices, and the uses, varieties, and history of this popular fruit.

Autumn is for Apples written by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Denise and Fernando - When the weather turns cool and crisp, a family visits an apple orchard enjoys some freshly picked apples. Written in rhyming text, the story is told from the point of view of a child who describes the trip.

Apples, Apples, Apples, written by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace - Follow the rabbit family on a trip to Long Hill Orchard as they learn about how apples grow before picking their own. There is much to be found in a close examination of the pictures, as the cut paper collage illustrations hold hidden facts and riddles.

The Pumpkin Book, written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons - This book explains how pumpkins are planted, cultivated and harvested. Also included is an appendix with a mix of information, including facts about pumpkin history, directions for drying pumpkins seeds, the nutritional value of the fruit, and more.

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?, written by Margaret McNamara and illustrated by G. Brian Karas - When a teacher brings three pumpkins of varying sizes to class, students are challenged to guess how many seeds each one contains. Will the largest have the most? Or is there some other factor that determines how many seeds are in a pumpkin? Read this book to find the answers. For more information, read my review of the book.

Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden, written by George Levenson with photographs by Shmuel Thaler - Accompanied by vibrant photographs, this book documents the life cycle of a pumpkin from seedling to sprout, bud, bloom and fruit. The process comes full circle when the fruit breaks down into rich soil, from which seeds sprout again. You can learn how this title can be used in the classroom from this book review.

From Seed to Pumpkin, written
by Wendy Pfeffer and illustrated by James Graham Hale - This book in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out-Science series explains how pumpkins develop from seed to fruit. Also discussed is how the plant how the plant obtains and distributes water and nutrients.

Pumpkins, written and illustrated by Ken Robbins - This book highlights the life cycle of the pumpkin with gorgeous photographs and clear, concise text. Readers will also learn that pumpkins come in a variety of sizes and colors.

It's Pumpkin Time!, written by Zoe Hall and illustrated by Shari Halpern - A brother and sister begin the work of preparing for Halloween in the spring, when they dig, plant, water and tend to their pumpkin. Now all they must do is wait!

Pumpkins, written by Jacqueline Farmer and illustrated by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes - This book introduces the life cycle of the pumpkin, along with pumpkin facts, history and legends. The final pages describe pumpkin world records, words for pumpkin in other languages, and some useful web sites.

It's a Fruit, It's a Vegetable, It's a Pumpkin, written by Allan Fowler - This book in the Rookie Read-About Science series
describes what a pumpkin is (fruit or vegetable?), includes some history, and describes how pumpkins are used for Halloween. Written for early readers, most pages have only two or three sentences in large font and are accompanied by photographs. A pictorial glossary is included.

Pumpkin Day!, written and illustrated by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace - While a rabbit family visits Pumpkin Hollow Farm to select pumpkins for cooking, decorating, and carving, they learn about how the fruits grow. Facts and riddles appear on signs scattered throughout the illustrations. The cut paper collage illustrations add to the appeal of this book that nicely mixes fact and fiction.

Apples, Pumpkins and Poetry
Autumnblings, written and illustrated by Douglas Florian - Included among these 29 poems about fall you'll find selections for apples and pumpkins.

Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic, written by Steven Schnur and illustrated by Leslie Evans - Written in acrostic form, this book describes the sights and sounds of fall from A to Z. Accompanied by beautiful linoleum block prints, readers will find ripe apples and pumpkins here.

Apples and Pumpkins, written by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell - In this book, readers follow a family on a trip to an apple orchard/pumpkin patch where they pick the fruit. Later we see them carve the pumpkin and greet trick or treaters.

Picking Apples and Pumpkins, written by Amy Hutchings with photographs by Richard Hutchings - This book follows a family as they take a trip to a New Jersey farm to pick apples and pumpkins. Beautiful photographs also show the family eating a picnic, baking a pie, and carving their pumpkins.

Additional Resources
If I've missed one of your favorite books about apples or pumpkins, please let me know. I'd be happy to add it to the list.


  1. Tricia,

    MotherReader bestowed an "I Heart Your Blog" award upon the Blue Rose Girls. I'm passing a "heart" along to the Miss Rumphius Effect.

    Here's the URL of the Blogs We Heart post at Blue Rose Girls:

  2. One of my favorite "apple" books to share with students is Marjorie Priceman's, How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. Another is Up! Up! Up! It's Apple Picking Time written by Jody Fickes Shapiro and illustrated by Kitty Harvil.

  3. Thanks for the list, Tricia! We also love Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington (so much so that there was a time when I could recite it by heart!). A great book for younger readers (and listeners). I'll try to post a review in the next couple of days, too.

  4. This is why I love your blog. Seeing these books all lined up on this virtual bookshelf is such fun and so helpful.

  5. My kids and I love the book "Our Apple Tree" by Gorel Kristina Naslund. The illustrations are quite charming, and the book as a whole provides a clear description of the life of an apple tree throughout the year in very simple terms, without talking down to the young reader/listener -- so I highly recommend it.

  6. What a wonderful list! So many times I come here and find great recommendations -- then head over to my library's website to put things on hold. :-) Thanks for compiling lists like these.

    Sidenote: I continue to be amazed by how prolific Gail Gibbons is. I don't know why I never thought to check out her website!

  7. We just read "Apple Doll" by Elisa Kleven - it's a wonderful story, with illustrations that capture the little girls feelings so well. It's all about being new in school, and so it perfect for kindergartners. The little girl is scared she won't have any friends, and just wants to stay in her beloved apple tree. So she makes a doll out of an apple and takes it to school. very touching.