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Fall Read Alouds and Literacy Activities for Upper Elementary

I love using seasonal books and activities as a way to keep things fresh in the classroom! Here are some of my favorite fall read alouds, along with different fall literacy activities that are all great for upper elementary.

I know that plenty of teachers and schools stay away from Halloween-based activities, so I included general fall activities as well.

Here are some of my favorite fall read alouds, along with different fall literacy activities that are all great for upper elementary.

Fall Read Alouds

I included Amazon affiliate links to each title below, but here's a quick shopping list with everything on one place!

Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell  – Tim carved a pumpkin and named him Jack. But Jack did not last forever. Eventually he began to rot and decompose. This book gives students a look at nature and the cycle of life.

After reading this book with students, have students complete a retelling graphic organizer with beginning, middle, and end. Students should write the different stages the pumpkin went through in the story. This is also a great book to use for teaching sequencing.

Scarecrow by Cynthia Rylant and Lauren Stringer – Everyone thinks they know the life of a scarecrow, but not everything is as it seems. This story will give readers a new perspective on the world.

This story is great for talking about personification! Give a mini-lesson on personification to your students, and then use this book as a mentor text. After reading note examples as a class that were in the book. You can even have students create their own examples.

The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger – Facing the unknown can be scary. The little yellow leaf sees other leaves flying in the wind and letting go of their branches, but this leaf isn’t sure he’s ready.

Pair this book with a writing activity and you’ll have a great literacy lesson. Have your students write about the prompt, “What is something you are scared of / used to be scared of?” Have students give details about the event or thing. Depending on the writing skills you have taught, this can be used to review grammar, syntax, or essay writing. You can also use this book to compare and contrast – it has a very similar plot to The Very Last Leaf, which you can use for comparing and contrasting.

Creepy Pair of Underwear by Aaron Reynolds – Have you ever been scared by something, even if it seemed silly? So has Jasper Rabbit. He has the creepiest pair of underwear, and he wants them gone! But no matter what he does, they always come back.

At the beginning of the story, Jasper Rabbit persuaded his mom to buy the creepy underwear. Have students write a persuasive paragraph or essay, asking the adults in their life for something they want.

How Many Seeds are in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara – Ever wonder how many seeds were in a pumpkin? Mr. Tiffin’s students were curious, and they all had different answers. After some exploring, they find out the real answer.

This book is great for making predictions and summarizing. As you read, stop and ask students some of the same questions that Mr. Tiffin is asking his students. Then after students learn the answer, have them summarize what they read.

Halloween Read Alouds

The Little Ghost Who was a Quilt by Neil Nason – Ghosts are supposed to be made of light, airy sheets. But one little ghost is made of a quilt. For a long time, he doesn’t understand why he’s different. But after a unique experience that only a quilt could have, the little ghost learns to be okay with who he is.

I recommend reading this book after a mini-lesson on character traits! If you want to really challenge students, you can even talk about the change in a character. After reading, have students define internal and external traits that the little ghost has, and how it changes throughout the story.

The Widow’s Broom by Chris Van Allsburg – One morning, Minna Shaw finds a broom in her garden. But it’s not a regular broom. It sweeps the floors, feeds the chickens, and completes many other household chores. However, the neighbors think the broom is evil and tell Minna to get rid of the broom.

After reading this book, give students the phrase, “We fear what we don’t understand.” Have students think critically about the meaning of this phrase and how it applies to the novel. They can write a paragraph responding, or talk about it with a partner.

The Hallo-Weiner by Dav Pilkey – Oscar always gets teased for his odd shape and size. Even his mother calls him a vienna sausage! After a lifetime of teasing, Oscar proves in a heroic act that even a weiner can be a winner.

This book incorporates lots of puns! This is great for exploring multiple meaning words. Give students some of the puns used in the story, and have them discover (using the dictionary) the different meanings that the word has.

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson – When a witch loses her belongings in a rough wind, several animals help retrieve her items, but they all want a ride on the broom in exchange for helping. Is there enough room?

Use this book as a mentor text for rhyme! There are many opportunities to talk about rhyme and rhythm while reading. You can also challenge students to write their own poems using rhyme. This book can be a mentor text for students who are new to poetry.

Gustavo, the Shy Ghost by Drago Flavia – Gustavo is great at a lot of ghost things, but he is also shy. And some things are harder than others. Gustavo wants to make friends and get to know others. But how can he get them to notice him?

Pair this book with informational texts about Halloween and Dia De Los Muertos. Have students draw similarities and differences between the two holidays, and let them decide which holiday this book represents more.

More Fall Literacy Activities

Halloween Context Clues – Give students Halloween themed passages, and have them use context clues to determine the meanings of words within the passage. I have six engaging Halloween themed passages already completed that you can use right-away with students. Passages include recipes, informational texts, and fictional texts.

Halloween Inferencing – Inferencing is a really challenging skill, so I take every opportunity I can to review it! That’s why these Halloween inference task cards are on regular rotation in October. There are 32 cards in total, ranging in difficulty. It includes paragraph, picture, and riddle task cards.

Halloween Fluency Activity – If you want to change up your fluency passages, these Halloween fluency task cards will do the trick. They make fluency practice simple, and it utilizes various sentence structures, dialogue, punctuation, expressions, and more. I like to use these in teacher stations, so I can get a quick update of my students fluency.

You can get all of these literacy activities, plus four more, in this Halloween Math and Literacy Activity Bundle. Holidays are a great way to re-engage your students in topics you’ve taught before, and these activities make it simple!

I hope some of these fall read alouds and literacy activities are useful for your classroom! There are so many fun topics and unique stories during Halloween, and I love to share them with my students. This post has even more ideas for celebrating the Halloween season in upper elementary.

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