7 Books to Celebrate Fall Holidays

Here are a few books to get young readers excited about fall celebrations, from Diwali to Rosh Hashanah.

The return to school and, for many, the falling temperatures mean that summer is winding is down and fall is fast approaching. With the new season comes several celebrations that children may participate in. Here are a few books to help young readers get excited about these fall holiday celebrations, from Diwali to Rosh Hashanah.

Happy Roo Year: It’s Rosh Hashanah by Jessica Hickman. illus. by Elissambura. Kar-Ben. ISBN 9781728427904.
PreS–This brief Jewish New Year board book starring kangaroos breaks no new ground but may please preschoolers. Rhyming four-line stanzas cover the basics of a kangaroo family’s celebration of Rosh Hashanah as they attend synagogue, hear the blast of the shofar (ram’s horn), eat round challah, and enjoy a family meal. Traditional apples and honey are depicted in the illustrations but never mentioned in the text. There is not much story beyond the Roo family going through the traditions, but it is an accessible read-aloud.

Thanks for Nothing by Ryan T Higgins. illus. by author. Disney-Hyperion. ISBN 9781368075855.
K-Gr 2–Out of the goodness of his heart, Bruce the bear has decided to make a fall feast to share with his three mouse companions. But the dinner falls apart when Bruce is not looking. His stew becomes a foot bath, peas are flung all over the kitchen, and apples are eaten long before they can become a delicious pie. When it comes time for dinner and an unexpected guest arrives, Bruce might be empty-handed, but he realizes that there’s more to be thankful for. This is a delightfully entertaining addition to the “Bruce” series that doesn’t make any specific references to Thanksgiving, though it’s implied. With detailed, comedic images that incorporate reds, oranges, and yellows, this book celebrates the Thanksgiving holiday from an entertaining and surprising angle.

Rosh Hashanah with Uncle Max by Varda Livney. illus. by Varda Livney. Kar-Ben. ISBN 9781728429069.
PreS-Gr 1–On Rosh Hashanah, Uncle Max comes to visit, and together, a Jewish family lights the holiday candles, blesses the wine and grape juice, dips challah and apples in honey, eats other traditional foods, attends synagogue to hear the shofar, and enjoys a special cake to celebrate the birthday of the world. This adorable board book is loaded with accessible, age-appropriate information that never bogs down the text. This is a wonderful way to introduce the youngest readers to the holiday.

 If You Lived During the Plimoth Thanksgiving by Chris Newell. illus. by Winona Nelson. Scholastic. ISBN 9781338726367.
Gr 2-5–Newell is a member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe; Nelson is a member of the Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa. Together they provide an account of the arrival of the of English colonists to the shores of North America in a region where the Wampanoag, the People of the First Light, had been living for thousands of years. Providing alternating information from the perspectives of the Wampanoag (and other tribes and nations) and European colonists offers a more comprehensive, full-circle look at these events and their devastating aftermath. The author covers events through the creation of the holiday called Thanksgiving today and how other cultures give thanks, including a discussion of Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Archie Celebrates Diwali by Mitali Banerjee Ruths. illus. by Parwinder Singh. Charlesbridge. ISBN 9781623541194.
PreS-Gr 1–Archie, short for Archana, has invited a few friends to her family’s Diwali celebration. She feels nervous that they will think her traditions are weird. Archie becomes even more nervous when a storm knocks out the power. But though she apologizes for the spicy food, her friends love the traditional dishes. Their interest leads Archie to share one of the holiday’s origin stories. The power returns, the storm blows over, and everyone enjoys dancing and setting off firecrackers together. An effective primer on the holiday that also communicates the mix of excitement and anxiety experienced by children sharing cultural practices with friends who have different customs.

 We Give Thanks by Cynthia Rylant. illus. by Sergio Ruzzier. S. & S./Beach Lane. ISBN 9781442465077.
PreS-Gr 1–One fine day, two friends—a rabbit and a frog—set out to explore their small town, interacting with a host of animal companions along the way. Each step of their journey gives them something more to be thankful for, including their mittens and scarves, the rain and snow, their family members, and the food on their table. Finally, the unnamed protagonists lay out a vast spread so that everyone they have met can enjoy a meal together, and the resulting joy is palpable. Young children who enjoy cheerful books filled with warmth will love reading this one, especially as they consider what they are thankful for.

Something New for Rosh Hashanah by Jane Yolen. illus. by Christine Battuz. Kar-Ben. ISBN 9781728403397.
PreS-Gr 1–Becca doesn’t like to try new foods. She says “no” to anything that tastes like meat and “ick” to green things. She turns down all the traditional holiday dishes, including noodle kugel and honey cake. But when Dad announces that he’s going to shave off his mustache and Mom decides to take up knitting, Becca is inspired to start the Jewish New Year by trying something new, too: one big green bean. Of course, she discovers that she likes it and promises to try gefilte fish next year. Repetitive, rhyming text, combined with speech bubbles, makes this a fun read-aloud.

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