Children’s picture books are a staple in the homes of most families. They have long been the first choice for bedtime stories or just for when someone needs a cuddle on the couch. Well-loved stories have stood the test of time and bring back good memories from our childhoods, and we all need that special reminder from time to time—no matter how old we are. Moreover, we are always discovering new favorites as we share them with our children, ever adding to the cherished cache.
Picture books can also help us celebrate the changing seasons as we read beloved classics concentrating on winter, spring, summer, or, as we are enjoying now, autumn. In fact, this delightful segment of the year brings us colorful falling leaves, cooler days, cozy quilts, and comforting smells of good things baking in the oven. Autumn also means pumpkins and APPLES and the many delicious possibilities they contain. Below are a few book suggestions and several ideas for using these stories as a ‘jumping off’ point for some yummy autumn fun for everyone!
How To Make An Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman is a wonderful story about what happens when it’s time to bake an apple pie, but the market is closed. Of course, this situation requires you to take a trip around the world to gather all the fresh ingredients, right at their sources. For example, you’ll need semolina wheat from Italy, a French chicken to lay a fresh egg, an English cow to give the richest milk, the bark of a kurundu tree from Sri Lanka that will be ground into cinnamon, seawater to evaporate for salt, and rosy apples from Vermont. No problem, right?
This delicious tale by Ms. Priceman is perfect for fall! There is a recipe for apple pie at the end of the book which would make a perfect finish! While eating a slice of your pie and a drinking a glass of milk, you might even want to explore a globe or map to locate the places mentioned in the story—a great geography lesson to go along with a delectable culinary creation!
The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall is another great ‘pick’! Two young sisters follow the cycle of an apple tree and how the apples are formed—from the bud to the fruit. The story includes the role of weather and bees in the production of the fruit, as well as a little side story about the robins who build their nest in the tree. The tale concludes with the apple harvest, and of course another recipe for apple pie is included.
In addition to a pie baking activity, this book lends itself very well to the whole scientific aspect of fruit production, pollination, weather patterns, and life cycles in general. Visiting an apple orchard or U-Pick facility would make a great field trip to go along with any of these books.
Applesauce by Shirley Kurtz takes the ‘apple’ idea one step further. This book focuses on a family’s quest to gather enough apples to make enough applesauce to last through the winter. The pictures in the book are very helpful for understanding the process of making applesauce, and easy directions are included. Jars of homemade applesauce would make thoughtful gifts for children to give to family and friends.
Johnny Appleseed by Reeve Lindburgh would make a wonderful wrap-up after baking up so many apple goodies in the kitchen. This poem about John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) tells the story of one man’s crusade to spread apple seeds from Massachusetts to the Midwest. Can you think up other recipes that use apples as the main ingredient? Search your cookbooks and see what yummy things you can discover. Create your own autumn recipe idea notebook.
There are also quite a few picture books about pumpkins too, and many can be used as a starting point for enjoyable kitchen activities as well. Perhaps a side trip to the pumpkin patch is in order before coming home to bake up some down home goodness. Some suggestions are:
The Pumpkin Patch by Elizabeth King
Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie by Jill Esbaum
Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White
Biscuit Visits the Pumpkin Patch by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Need more ideas?
Here’s an excellent bonus recipe for
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
· 3 cups white sugar
· 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
· 1 cup vegetable oil
· 2/3 cup water
· 4 eggs
· 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
· 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
· 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
· 2 teaspoons baking soda
· 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
· 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
· 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three loaf pans. In a large bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, oil, water, and eggs. Beat until smooth. Blend in flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts. Fill pans 1/2 to 3/4 full. Bake for 1 hour, or until a knife comes out clean. Cool on wire racks before removing from pans.
So scan your library bookshelves, ‘pick’ a few great books to share, and pre-heat the oven. Don an apron, bake up some autumn goodness, and enjoy the ‘fruits’ of your labor!