Autumnal Children’s Books

So, my favourite season is upon us bringing with it crimson & golden coloured leafs, acorn covered ground, big jumpers, hot drinks, chilly mornings and the excuse to play the ultimate game of conkers (no ones too old for conkers right?) With pumpkins and fireworks just around the corner, there’s nothing better to do than to delve into some seasonal books that capture the cosiness of the season. So here are my personal top 10 children’s books for ages 9-12 to read this autumn!

  1. Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomery

The well loved Anne with an ‘e’ is for me one of the most perfect reads for this time of year (or for a matter of fact, any time of year), but there’s something especially fitting about reading Annes adventures of growing up, set against the Canadian backdrop of Prince Edward Island during autumn months. With L.M. Montgomerys beautiful descriptions of the natural world, I know of not one person who has encountered Anne and not fallen in love with her charismatic and wonderfully unique outlook on life. With trials and tribulations, wonders and woes, Anne’s story is sure to bring a smile to anyones face.

2. Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden

Since a child, this book has always beckoned the start of autumn for both myself and my mum. For some reason (perhaps because of Armistice day in November) I forever feel the need to read war time stories in these chillier months, and each year I get my copy of Carries War out and each year it doesn’t disappoint. Set in the countryside of Wales, we meet a cast of characters including Carrie, her younger brother Nick and fellow evacuee Albert Sandwich. With the upheaval of being evacuated from their home in London, they are faced with settling into a very different life. For Carrie and Nick, they have been taken in by the stern Mr Evans and his younger and kind sister Louisa, whilst Albert has taken refuge in Druids Bottom, the home of Mr Evans’ eccentric and elderly sister – Mrs Gotobed, wise old Hepzibar Green and kindred spirit Mr Johnny. With growing up comes it’s own trials, but with hidden past buried deep between the lives of their guardians, can the children find the courage to stand up for what’s right as well as be true to themselves? And with a haunting myth said to lurk the walls of Druid’s Bottom, Carrie will have come to terms with her time spent in the valley years after she’s left. A comforting, intriguing and characterful tale that has bought generations of readers enjoyment and I’m sure will continue to in years to come.

[If you enjoy this book, definitely check out the BBC 2004 adaptation – it sparkles with all the storytelling atmosphere of the book and has some brilliant casting too!]

3. The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black

This richly told series completely captivated me the first time I read them as a child and again as an adult. It’s a book series I’ve shared with many children at the bookshop including when I’ve had schools visit the bookshop on World Book Day, and after each read of it they all seemed as wrapped up in the story as I had been. Set in their Great Aunt Lucinda’s house which comes with as much mystery as it does dusty curtains, old fashioned decor & creaky floorboards, the three Grace children and their mother move to this estate after a family break up. With new schools to start and complicated feelings after their parents break up, twins Jared & Simon and older sister Mallory are finding it difficult settling in to their new surroundings, most of all Jared. He’s getting into trouble at school and nobody seems to understand him, so when he stumbles upon a secret room with strange belongings in and a very old looking book full of the spectacular and fantastical, he has for the first time in a long time, something other than his unhappy situation to focus on. But it’s only when strange trickster things start occurring within the house that he finally has some evidence for what he’s been reading about in his ancestors book he found, yet Jared’s not a surprised that nobody believes him when he says he wasn’t behind the peculiar happenings. But more and more creatures and strangeness appearing, it seems that there’s more to this house than meets the eye…

Packed full of mystery, riddles, magical beings and the power of family, these stories alongside incredible illustrations makes for a very special reading experience. And with the prospect of it being based on truth, just makes the whole thing more magical especially for young readers. Atmospheric, addictive and with manageable length of chapters that are great for struggling or reluctant readers The Spiderwick Chronicles is full of imagination and perfect balance of real life and fantasy. The ultimate example of small but perfectly formed.

4. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Beginning at the start of a new school year, 10 year old Auggie is joining mainstream school for the first time. Having been homeschooled his whole life due to his health problems, he’s never had an ordinary life, but that’s one thing you’ll learn from reading this book – Auggie is anything but ordinary, he is extraordinary. Having been dealt a hard set of cards when he was born with major health complications alongside a facial disfigurement, Auggie has always felt different and an outsider. With not many friends to call his own apart from his oldest friend Christopher who now lives many miles away, he surrounds himself with his loving dog, his close-knit family and his love of Star Wars. So when it comes to turn that he will be going to school for the first time he is understandably very nervous, but with the right people at his side and his unmistakable courage, can the hurdles of what school and growing up can bring be taken in his stirde? Told from several character perspectives, this story of friendship, bravery and the unbeatable power of staying true to yourself shines a light on a very much missed area of life that gets overlooked. Wonder is full of kindness and courage in all shapes and forms and is truly a book that can change the world.

5. Pages & Co – Tilly and the Bookwanderers by Anna James.

Pages & Co. is a series that is full to the brim of cosiness, imagination and book magic! It’s a favourite of mine to snuggle down to on autumnal days with a cup of tea and a favourite snack. Following the life of 11 year old Tilly who lives with her grandparents in their family London bookshop, Tilly spends most of her days with her head in a book, but it’s not until her October half term that she starts to notice a few funny things happening in the bookshop, and it’s not long before she and her best friend Oskar work out that they are part of a select few people who are capable of bookwandering. That’s right bookwandering! Not only can they go in and out of their favourite books and stories, but it so happens that some of Tilly’s much loved characters can find their way to her in her beloved family bookshop. With excitement over this new found magic the two set off on adventure, but as the saying goes “with great power comes great responsibility” and it seems that not everybody who can bookwander are to be so trusted with this great privilege. Alongside some mystery as to her mothers disappearance when she was younger, it’s safe to say that Tilly & Oskar’s bookwandering fun soon turns into something more serious.

With a selection of great book characters, a unique concept of the power of imagination and the magic of storytelling, family, friendship, a good scattering of well crafted storylines and wonderfully sounding food, this series for me is a must have for whimsical autumnal days.

6. The Marvels by Brian Selznick

Brian Selznick is an author/illustrator who’s talents are enviable by any storyteller or book lover. Crafting his books with both words and drawings, his collection of books including The Marvels, Wonderstruck and The Invention of Hugo Cabret are all told half in detailed pencil drawings and half in chapters. His unique style doesn’t just make the reading experience completely different and special, but it’s a great way for children who are more reluctant or struggle to read to be able to loose themselves in a good story. Although they are all rather chunky reads, this is mainly due to the amounts of illustrations throughout, so as long as you aren’t put off by the size of the books, they really are a great place to start with older children. Although I love all three of Brian Selznick’s books, I’ve chosen The Marvels as my autumnal pick, as it’s set in rainy old London Town and in his trademark style, tells a story of two halves and encapsulates the beauty of reading. And for a little fun extra fact, the main setting for the book is an actual house in Spittlefields that is still to this day available to visit on certain days of the week for a tour, which makes the link of this story to the real world even more great. Visiting this house is high on my to do list but if any of you visit it beforehand, please let me know what it’s like, I’d be ever so grateful to hear all about it!

7. The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson

Lisa Thompson is one of my absolute go to children’s authors. Ever since I read her first book The Goldfish Boy, (which is always a must have staple in our bookshop) I’ve been hooked on her books. She excellently navigates at times, hard to talk about topics, brings humour through her characters, intriguing storylines and always gives us a heap full of mystery and entertainment to contend with. The Light Jar for me is a perfect one of hers to read in the cold, misty months of late autumn and winter. Following Nate who has suddenly upped and left with his mum from their hard home life, the two of them venture out to start afresh. They end up taking refuge in a wood cabin situated on the outskirts of a woodland belonging to a rundown and abandoned estate. Following their first few days on their new adventure, Nate spends most of the cold days wandering the surrounding woodland where he meets a young girl who’s both mysterious and friendly in equal amounts. But there’s something strange about the history of this estate that’s bugging Nate so, with his new friend he sets out to not only try to make sense of his own past, but the past of the estate itself.

There are riddles and a treasure hunt, old friends and new acquaintances, hidden pasts and new beginnings all set in the wintery countryside. What more could you want?

8. Our Castle by the Sea by Lucy Strange

This story is a perfect blend of history, mystery and folklore. Set during the first year of the Second World War, Petra and her family live in the working lighthouse on the cliffs of Dover. They are just as much part of their community as any of the other inhabitants of their town, and it isn’t until war breaks out that people start treating them differently. Pet’s mother is German born which for the most part had never been an issue for anyone, but when it’s clear that someone in their town is trying to sabotage the war effort, all eyes fall on Pet’s mother. Pet and her older sister have to face not only the impending war that they observe from their lighthouse windows, but also learn to face the hardships of prejudices, fight for what they believe in and keep their family together. Petra may be small and timid, but even the smallest of beings can make the biggest difference in the world. Atmospheric, beautifully told and with such twists and turn you can’t keep from reading another chapter, this has certainly become a classic in the making for me.

9. I, Cosmo by Carlie Sorosiak

Now this book is a fairly new one to me, having only been published in 2019 it’s not been long on the bookshelves but it definitely hits all the marks for an autumnal read. The story is told from Cosmo’s perspective – a family dog who loves nothing more than being with his family, making his best friend happy and eating bacon – lots of bacon. Beginning on the evening of Halloween, Cosmo dressed up for trick-or-treating with his family, finds that things in his household aren’t so happy as they once were. So Cosmo sets out on a mission to bring his family back together – if it’s one thing he’s good at, it’s being adorable and a good listener. Can all his hard work and love be enough to glue his family back together or is this just a job too big? With autumnal vibes and family at the heart of this moving modern tale, this has been a favourite across many a bookshops.

10. Cogheart by Peter Bunzl

A quartet of tales set in the Cogheart universe, these steampunk-esk Victorian stories are perfect for darker evenings and colder weather. Following the lives of our two main characters Lily and Robert, we set off on their first adventure in Cogheart where villains lurk, danger is abundant and adventure is the only answer to their quest. The two of them alongside Lily’s mechanimal fox Malkin, set out to find Lily’s father who has suddenly & mysteriously disappeared. With their days filled with zeppelins, aircraft, voyages and dastardly twists and turns, this imaginatively created world is captivating and full of heart. A real great read for those wanting a fresh new adventure – you won’t be disappointed when you’ve picked this series up!

Thank you for reading my first blog here on Views from a Bookshop, I hope you enjoyed it and that it has helped you find your perfect autumnal read! If you would like to have more recommendations find me on Instagram @viewsfromabookshop or on Twitter @jaynie.books

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