As the vibrant hues of autumn fade into the crisp, wintry landscapes, there’s a unique kind of magic that happens in the great outdoors. The fall and winter seasons offer a treasure trove of unique opportunities for kids to explore their world in a whole new way. With the right books in hand, children can embark on thrilling adventures that extend beyond the boundaries of their imaginations. Today, Emily Liebel, Utah mom of three and founder of @inclusivelibrary, will take you on a journey through the best nature-inspired fall and winter books for kids. So, let’s dive into a world where the changing seasons are an invitation to get outside and adventure together!

Pinnable post of book for fall and winter

Fall and winter outside

Fall and winter stand in stark contrast to each other when it comes to outdoor adventuring. Fall-time is full of more adventures and activities than most of us have time for. There are farms to visit, hikes to enjoy, harvests to be fulfilled, and explosions of color everywhere. In winter, life slows down significantly. Our kids may want to stomp and play in the snow or cuddle up with warmth and rest during the darker months.

In both seasons, we want to help our kids have fun! For some of us, this could be easy, and for others, there is a struggle to find the right activities. This is where books can come into play (literally!). Books can help encourage our kids to get creative and explore new perspectives and aspects of outdoor adventuring.  

Where to find these books

If you would like to buy these fall and winter books through the affiliate links provided, RWMC receives a tiny commission. Our small business appreciates your support! If you would like to support small and independent bookstores in your area, try bookshop. I will also always recommend frequenting your local libraries and checking the books out as well.

How to use these books

In my spring and summer books post, I detailed the ways to use these books before, during, and after your adventures. The same ideas apply to the fall and winter books I have curated here. Make sure to refresh yourself on the benefits and how-to of pairing books with adventures from that post! 

All of our kids are unique and will connect to different aspects of outdoor adventuring. While reading books, we can parse out what our kids will be most excited to experience. We can prepare them for new adventures or refresh their knowledge of family favorite adventures. And we can help them awaken imaginative play in new ways.

Diversity in books and reading level

Children of all ages will be able to read and understand different things that will support their uniqueness and their personal interests. And for that purpose, I have made sure to include diverse books that will help all kids feel included and excited about outdoor adventuring.

Kids may not pick an activity or adventure for themselves if they do not first see themselves represented in that arena. There is also a range of reading levels represented in the books I chose for this post. And while some books are more advanced than others, the vast majority of them will work for all ages. Personally, I would have no issue reading picture books with my middle-schooler (or even high-school-aged kids). They can still get so much enjoyment from being read to and flipping through picture books. But, no matter what age your kids are, you will have multiple options here that best fit your family and kids’ interests. 

Seasonal weather and using these fall and winter books

I have not met many people who do not enjoy some aspects of autumn. It can be a nice reprieve from hotter days, and there really are so many activities available to us that automatically get our families outdoors. More often, I meet people who do not slow down enough to find deep appreciation and enjoyment of fall because they are busy preparing for winter. I hope that the books I have chosen to include here will help you find ways to connect to the earth and all the awe this season has to offer.

Once wintertime is in full swing, I have met a lot more people who pull back on their outdoor adventuring in favor of hunkering down and staying inside. The books that I have included are meant to inspire us to fight that urge. Winter, while cold and dark in many areas of the world, can be a time to refocus our habits on what really matters to our families. There is plenty of family adventuring and play to be had outdoors in the winter. If we have resources like these books to show us the possibilities, we will be able to pass encouragement on to our children. 

9 picture books about fall leaves and hikes

Favorite fall books for kids

Books about fall leaves and hikes

  1. Forest Baby by Laura Elmquist
  2. Hiking Day by Anne Rockwell
  3. An Autumn Treasury by Angela Ferraro-Fanning
  4. Fresh Fall Leaves by Betsy Franco
  5. It’s Fall! by Renee Kruilla
  6. Taking a Walk: Fall in the Country by Sue Tarsky
  7. Thank Fall by Ciara L. Hill
  8. Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak
  9. The Wilderness by Steve McCarthy

These books capture the wonder and awe of autumn colors. While the natural world is beginning to wind down, we get to enjoy the changes in real time! This can be fascinating to children if we are willing to slow down and examine it with them.

You may think ‘autumn leaves’ and immediately connect it to a walk or hike or jumping in leaf piles. These are brilliant options, but what about leaf crafts or forts as shown in An Autumn Treasury or Fresh Fall Leaves? What about connecting it to daily gratitude with Thank Fall? The Wilderness is simply gorgeous and centers on bravery, friendship, and exploration.

Each of these books will give you and your family new ideas about how to engage with leaves and colors all season. 

4 books about farms and harvest in fall

Books about farm visits, harvest, and fall festivals 

  1. Harvest Days by Kate DePalma
  2. Marya Khan and the Spectacular Fall Festival by Saadia Faruqi
  3. Farm Boots by Lisa H. Detlefsen
  4. Amara’s Farm by JaNay Brown-Wood

I am a top-tier fan of agro-tourism. I shamelessly seek out the local farms with pumpkins, apple cider donuts, games, tractor rides, animals, and corn pits and mazes. Behind these fun seasonal attractions is a lot of effort from the farmers and even the animals! These books will give your kids a window into that work. Amara’s Farm introduces foods that are harvested this time of year and helps kids find characterizations as they wander the farm. Marya Khan is a new release chapter book following a third-grade girl while preparing a fall festival. 

Each of these fall books will excite kids to visit farms with you and instill an appreciation for harvest and gathering. 

3 books about winter sports

Best winter books for kids

Winter sports

  1. Goodnight, Chairlift by Libby Ludlow
  2. The Little Book of Skiing by Orange Hippo!
  3. Goodnight, Snowboard by Kristen McCurry

A great way to get kids outside in the winter is by taking up a winter sport. You may already be a skiing family, or you may want to try it out for the first time. Either way, there is a lot of gear and mountain-side etiquette and safety involved. Even sledding, there are things for which to prepare your kids. The Little Book of Skiing is not strictly a picture or chapter book, but I have included it because there are pages with only one sentence, some with paragraphs and others with infographics. All of which add to a deeper understanding and appreciation of a very involved but exciting winter sport.

All of these books introduce the information to kids while also capturing the true spirit of adventure that is going fast down the snow! 

6 books about exploring and playing in winter snow

Books about playing in the snow

  1. Ten Ways to Hear Snow by Kathy Camper
  2. Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter by Kenard Pak
  3. A Day So Gray by Marie Lamba
  4. Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner
  5. First Snow by Nancy Viau
  6. Walking in a Winter Wonderland by Peggy Lee and Tim Hopgood

If you and your family are not as enthusiastic about snow sports, you may be looking for ideas closer to home or slower-paced. Playing in the snow in your own backyard or local parks and fields can be exciting as well. I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering how to get our kids to play outside a little longer in the winter. Besides quality gear to keep them warm, we can encourage them by showing them the true beauty of winter, as in A Day So Gray. With books like Ten Ways to Hear Snow and Over and Under the Snow, building a snowman or throwing snowballs can be just the beginning of our kids’ snowy play.

These books are sure to help your kids find ways to extend their time in the snow and build imaginative winter worlds right outside their doors. 

6 books about fall and winter holidays with nature themes

Books for enjoying fall and winter holidays outside

  1. Pick a Pumpkin by Patricia Toht
  2. Halloween in the Orchard by Phyllis Alsdurf
  3. We’re Going on a Pumpkin Hunt by Goldie Hawk
  4. Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht
  5. Thanksgiving in the Woods by Phyllis Alsdurf
  6. Little Red Ruthie: A Hanukkah Tale by Gloria Koster

This time of year is often called the holiday season because there are at least a dozen cultural and religious holidays that take place. We may automatically think of Halloween as a largely “outdoors” holiday. But we may not think the same for Hanukkah or Chinese New Year. These books bring those holidays outside in both small and large ways.

Holidays are not the main focus of this post, but I do think it is important to consider them. We can use our cultural and religious celebrations as opportunities to get outside and create new and lasting adventures or experiences. We do have a nature-holiday post with more books if you are looking for other suggestions!

Nature books enhance our adventures

Books can bring wonder and learning to our lives. When we take time to read nature books to our kids, we are helping them gain more appreciation of what this earth has to offer, which can lead to life-long understanding and habits of adventure. We know the benefits of early literacy, and we know the benefits of nature play. We can overlap these two aspects of physical and mental growth/health in beautiful and meaningful ways that benefit the whole family. 

How will you use these books to adventure in the fall and winter months?

About the author

Emily and her family have moved across the US multiple times, and the best things about each state have been the outdoor adventures and the public libraries! Now living in Utah, Emily has continued her love for both. She explores both mountain and city outdoor spaces weekly with her three kids and friends and attends library story times, as well as leads a local story time. Emily has a passion for children’s literature. She uses books to educate, promote inclusion, understanding, and justice, and inspire adventure and creativity. Emily loves how reading and being outdoors overlap in so many exciting ways!

You can find Emily online in the following locations:
Instagram: @inclusivelibrary
RWMC Posts: Emily Liebel