The Ultimate Guide to Apple Books for Children

The Ultimate Guide to Apple Books for Children

Apples are fascinating.  Four thousand years old they are the earliest cultivated fruit in the history of the world. Egyptian pharaohs liked them, the ancient Greeks praised them, the first Botanical Encyclopedia created by Bartholomeus Angelicus in 13th century called apple tree “noble” with a fruit “gracious in sight and in taste and virtuous in medicine.”
Today the average person eats 65 apples per year. Scientists discovered two amazing facts: apple seed contain cyanide and have heterozygosity, a genetic characteristic that ensures that an apple grown from seed won’t be anything like its parents. (Think how it would have worked for humankind).  
The other day I held an apple in my hand and tried to understand why I like it so much. It felt nice on the palm of my hand. It made my mouth water as I anticipated biting into it.  I thought of different times I picked an apple, washed it, cut it, cooked it, baked it, preserved it… I decided that it’s quintessential apple-ness of an apple that appeals to me. It’s round, firm, a peaceful symbiosis of sweet and crunchy. 
In the beginning, we were happy with the same old few apple books that somehow made their way into our house, but then one day I started to wonder if there were some amazing, old, classical apple books out there that we didn’t know about. And after some search, we discovered such treasures as Rain Makes Applesauce (Caldecott winner in 1965), Apples to Oregon, and The Apple that Papa Baked among others. I was a bit disappointed that when I asked my kids to pick their top ten, they skipped most of MY favorite books (like No Ordinary Apple) and picked the books that we read for the most years. It just shows that the longer you know the book, the dearer it becomes (unless the book is Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov).  
For ease of navigation, I divided the 75 Apple books on my list into four categories: Top Ten Favorites (picked by my kids), For the little ones(0-3), As they Grow (3-7), and for the Very Serious Explorers (7 and up). Our collection is a mix of silly books and science books, flip-the-flaps for the little ones and information books for older kids, counting apple books and counting-down apple books, kids apple cooking books and books about apples that stand up to bullies.  I hope to keep this list growing, so if you know apple books that are not here, please, comment.     

The age recommendation is here only for a very general sense of guidance. All kids are different, mature differently, have different interests at different stages of their lives and relate to different material in a different way.  I base all recommendations on my experience of reading those books to my own kids.  


Top 10 Favorite Apple Books


Rain Makes Applesauce by Julian Scheer (2-9)  

This 1965 Caldecott winner is an imaginative and playful tale open to many interpretations. Its lilting poetry encourages creativity and my kids come up with a different meaning every time we read it. Detailed, but lightly colored drawings remain interesting no matter how many times you look at them. In my house it’s enough to quote from the book, “Oh, you are just talking silly talk…” and my kids can’t stop laughing. When I asked my son why he likes this book, he said, “It’s silly like A Very Special house,” (a book by Krauss illustrated by Sendak) and so it is!


Apple by Nikki McClure (2-7). 

This is the most creative book on a life cycle of an apple that we ever came across.  Every illustration is a 3-color paper cut.  We decided to copy some of the paper cuts and it’s extremely hard!  But I’m glad we tried it anyway because my kids discovered that something can look very simple, but actually be a result of hard work. Each illustration in the book has just one word to go with it. My kids try to read/guess what it is. I call this type of book an open-end book. It tickles imagination and sparks volumes of discussion.

Apples by Gail Gibbons (4-7).  

The first American colonists, Indians, Johnny Appleseed, parts of an apple and pollination, varieties of apples, how to plan an apple tree, a recipe for an apple pie, an illustrated guide to apple cider extraction, and apple trivia.  This book can alternatively be called Everything you ever wanted to know about apples and more. (You might also enjoy The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree by the same author)



How do apples grow? by Betsy Maestro (4 and up)

This is an introduction to science at its best. In this book you will get a more complex explanation about pistil, apples blossom ovaries and male cells, and how they come together to create a miracle. I do distinctly remember copying the parts of the blossom in biology class, but I must have forgotten everything. Do you know that the ovary of the blossom becomes the inside core of the apple? How fascinating! Is it somehow related to the fact that apple seeds contain about 700 milligrams of cyanide per kilo? Is it where the expression Femme Fatale came from? (And wait!  Before you go around quote me saying that an apple core can kill a human being, let me clarify.  You need about 1 milligram of cyanide per kilo of body weight to kill a person, and that’s about 18 apple cores that need to be thoroughly crashed first to let the digestive enzymes to get to the substance inside the seed called amygdalin. So, if you eat an apple core, or two, or ten, you would probably be fine). A book makes a good case for the bees. As soon as we read this book my kids started making plans on how to make our backyard more attractive to bees.

Ten Red Apples by Pat Hutchins (2-7)

I know, I know, you have to read the same thing on EVERY page.  Is it a form of torture?  “…nibble, nibble, nibble, baa, baa, fiddle-dee-fee… crunch, crunch, crunch, hiss, hiss, fiddle-dee-fee… pick, pick, pick. Quack, quack, quack…” I happen to think that this rhyming, repetitive cadence is awfully good for child’s ears. And show me a kid who doesn’t like the sounds of farm animals. I can think of no better way to teach how to count to 10, how to add and subtract and how to make predictions.  On every page, there is a bright illustration of a farmer and his animals that look like old times wooden toys.  This might be the book that inspired us to do the Apple Farm. Look for it in the Apple Activities post coming up next.


Ten Red Apples Up On Top by Dr. Seuss (1-9)

This is another counting book with apples.  This is the first book by Dr. Seuss that I ever read and it is still my favorite one. What is it about this book that makes it so popular with kids and parents?  Simple rhymes and fun illustrations?  The chase, apple balancing, and the good, old competitive spirit? The fact that kids quickly memorize the book and can “read” it on their own?  All of the above perhaps?  There is no end of activities to go with this book. Try Making Learning Fun for a wide variety of ideas.  As a variation, we like to play Ten Legos up on top.

Apples A to Z by Margaret McNamara (2 and up). Usually, alphabet books are written for preschool crowd learning their first ABCs, but not this book. It has something for all ages. My 2 year old likes colorful, cartoon illustrations. My 4-year old is all about following a group of animal friends as they share their apple experiences and making their way through the alphabet.  My 7-year old is all about new words: D is deciduous, G is for grafting, N is for nutritious… each word convincingly comes with a few concise sentences to go with it. I was surprised to discover that there is a variety of apple for each letter of the alphabet! At the end of the book there is a list of common expression that uses the word “apple,” apple activities, a story of Johnny Appleseed, and apple jokes.


Apples, Apples, Apples by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace (3-7)

The bunny family goes apple picking, talks about parts of an apple, and finds things that can be made out of apples (apple pie, apple cider, apple butter, apple jelly, applesauce… did you know there were that many!)  Every year as I read this book I dream of finding some free time to put together a Shutterfly book about our family going apple picking combined with information about apples, apple biology, and apple uses.  (One day I will!)  The distinctive feature of this book is its artwork.  All the illustrations are cut out of paper and glued to the page to give them 3D dimension.  We traced the bunnies by the window, cut them out and acted the story out.  (Then the dog ate the bunnies).  At the end of the book, there is a cute apple song with a piano score that we love.  I made a copy of the page, laminated it and keep it by the piano.

How to make an Apple Pie and see the world by Marjorie Priceman (2 and up)

This book easily makes it on our list of the top favorite books of all times. It has humor, wonderful and silly plot, beautiful watercolor illustrations, a lesson on sharing and on where our food comes from, and an introduction to geography all in one.  I’m so glad that this book was part of our Five in a Row curriculum because that’s how we discovered it! (Are you familiar with this curriculum? It takes great books for kids and offers some creative ways to incorporate history, science, math, and whatnot into the lesson). There are so many ideas to try with this book. 


Apples by Jacqueline Farmer (7 and up).  What I like about this book is eight pages of apple history.  Do you know where the name “apple” comes from?  Or why the science of growing apples is called “pomology” and what a Roman goddess has to do with it?  I learned a lot of interesting facts from this book.  Hippocrates’ (father of the medicine) favorite “medical prescription” was an apple. China grows 41% of world apples and 24% of apple’s volume is air (which explains why it floats).  This book is generally recommended for 5 and up, but I think kids can’t really retain the more advanced facts until they are much older.


For the little ones (0-3)

11.  Up, up, up!  It’s Apple Picking Time by Jody Fickes Shapiro.  This book is recommended for preschool crowd, but my 2-year old can’t get enough of it.

12. Apples, Apples! A lift-the-flap book by Salina Yoon

13. Pat the bunny: At the Apple Orchard by Golden Books.  Just released!!!

14. Ducking for Apples by Lynne Berry.  Favorite with my 2-year old!

15. 5 Little Apples by Yusuke Yonezu

16. Secrets of the Apple Tree: a shine-a-light book by Carron Brown

17. Red Apple, Green Pear: a book of colors by Scholastic

18. Ted Red Apples: A Bartholomew Bear Counting Book by Virginia Miller


As They Grow (3-7)


19. Apple Picking Time by Michelle Benoit Slawson


20. A bad apple: a tale of friendship by Edward Hemingway.  “It takes a strong core to stand up to bullies.”

21. The Apple Pie that Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson

22. Apples, Apples Everywhere!  Learning about Apple Harvest by Robin Koontz

23. Our Apple Tree by Gorel Kristina Naslund

24. Apples for Everyone (Picture the seasons series by National Geographic for kids) by Jill Esbaum


25. Johnny Appleseed by Jodie Shepherd.  This might be our favorite Johnny Appleseed book.

26. Fall Apples: crisp and juicy by Martha Rustad.  It’s fall.  Time to visit Apple Orchard.  The story is told by a little girl who is spending a day at the orchard with her family.  One chapter is dedicated to How Apples Grow and another chapter is all about Using Apples.  There is a recipe for an Upside-Down, Inside-Out Apple Crisp that takes about five minutes from start to finish (in a microwave).  I think this book will be good for kids who have never visited an orchard.  My kids who go every year enjoyed reading it through once, but I don’t think they will be interested in reading it again until next apple season.  

27. I am an Apple by Jean Marzollo.  This Hello Science Scholastic Reader is attractive to beginner
readers and introduces science concepts in a simple way. 


28. One Red Apple by Harriet Ziefert


29. Annie the Apple Pie Fairy by Make Believe Ideas.


30. Apples and Pumpkin by Anne Rockwell

31. Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington

32. Autumn is for Apples by Knudsen Michelle

33. The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall

34. The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree by Gail Gibbons

35. Amelia Bedelia’s First Apple Pie by Herman Parish

36. Ned’s New Home by Kevin Tseng

37. Applesauce by Shirley Kurtz

38. A day at the Apple Orchard by Amy Ackelsberg

39. Johnny Appleseed: a poem by Reeve Lindbergh

40. Apples Grow on a Tree (How Fruits and Vegetables grow series) by Mari Schuh

41. The Apple Orchard Riddle by Margaret McNamara

42. Applesauce Season by Eden Ross Lipson.  This cheerful book is about an fall habit that become a family tradition.  “One day, Grandma says, “It’s time for applesauce.”  And this city boy’s family goes to the market to buy six pounds of apples for sauce.  Women prep the apples and cook them. Daddy makes potato pancakes to go with the apple sauce.  And then neighbors and family gather around a large table to celebrate the first sauce of the season.  I love the beautiful illustrations and happy faces.  There is a recipe for applesauce on the last page.  I have a sweet spot for books that celebrate family togetherness and traditions.

43. One Green Apple by Eve Bunting

44. Apple Countdown by Joan Holub.  Fun way to practice math: counting down 20 to 1, grouping and simple addition.

45. Apple Pie ABC by Alison Murray.  My 2-year old loves the book, but it’s only my older kids who actually “get” it.

46. Curious George: Apple Harvest H. A. Rey

47. Apples here by Will Hubbell

48. Fancy Nancy: Apples Galore (I can Read Level 1) by Jane O’Connor

49. Found an Apple (I’m Going to Read series) by Elliot Kreloff

50. Big Red Apple (Scholastic Reader Level 1) by Tony Johnston

51. Apple Cider Making Days by Ann Purmell

52. Apple Days: A Rosh Hashanah Story by Allison Sarnoff Soffer

53. A was once an Apple Pie by Edward Lear

54. A day at the Apple Orchard (Scholastic) by Megan Faulkner

55. Apples to Oregon: being the (slightly) true narrative of how a brave pioneer father brought apples, peaches, pears, plums, grapes and cherries (and children) across the plains by Deborah Hopkinson.  This is possibly my most favorite children’s book about apples.  The year is 1847 and a family of nine (mom, dad and seven children) is moving from Iowa to Oregon.  “[Daddy] couldn’t bear to leave his apple trees behind,” but no worries, he can take his apple trees with them, all hundreds of them.  What follows is a laugh-out-loud tale of their daring adventure.  The family braves river floating, treacherous hail stones, dessert crossings and mountain climbing, all with hundreds of apples in tow.  The book is loosely based on a true story.  I’m in love with gorgeous and hilarious illustrations.  After reading this book you will never take your car for granted again.

56. Red are the Apples by Wade Zahares

57. Max’s Apples by Grosset and Dunlap

58. Johnny Appleseed: a tall tale retold and illustrated by Steven Kellogg

59. Johnny Appleseed (Read to Read Level One) by Jane Kurtz

60. Amazing Apples (Scholastic Science Vocabulary Readers series) by Jeff Bauer

61. Apple Fractions by Jerry Pallotta

62. Let’s cook with Apples: delicious and fun apple dishes kids can make by Nancy Tuminelly.  We tried a couple of recipes from this book with my 4 and 7 years old.  They enjoyed “helping.”  I suppose older kids would actually be able to use this book on their own.

63.  The Biggest Apple Ever by Steven Kroll.  Lots of excitement is in the air when Mrs. Mouser (the teacher) announces competition for the biggest apple.  Kids comb the neighborhood apple trees, grocery store and apple orchard.  James finds the biggest apples.  Clayton and Desmond are pretty upset until they decide to use all the leftover apples into the biggest apple pie ever was!


64. An Apple a Day: over 20 Apple Projects for Kids by Jennifer Storey Gillis.  GREAT apple activities book!

For the Serious Explorers (7 and up)

65. The Life and Times of the Apple by Charles Micucci


66. The Life Cycle of an Apple Tree by Linda Tagliaferro


67. An Apple Pie for Dinner by Susan VanHecke

68. Apples by Ken Robbins


69. Life Cycle of an Apple Angela Royston

70. The Illustrated World Encyclopedia of Apples by Andrew Mikolajski

71. No ordinary apple: a story about eating mindfully by Sara Marlowe

72. Apples (a true book) by Elaine Landau

73. Who was Johnny Appleseed? (Who Was…? series) by Jean Holub

74. In the Land of the Big Red Apple by Roger Lea MacBride.  This book has a lot of information that is not about apples, but reading about young apple trees rescue from the ice storm is exciting.

75. From Seed to Apple (How Living Things Grow) by Anita Ganeri

76. From Seed to Apple Tree: following the Life Cycle by Suzanne Slade

If you like to eat Apples you might enjoy checking out my Apple recipes board.

               Follow Kid Minds’s board APPLE on Pinterest.  

We put together a post that contains all our favorite Apple Activities. Check it out, if you are looking for something fun to do this fall.

Did I miss any Apple Books?  I would like to keep this list growing, so any suggestions are appreciated.  Do you like to read about apples with your kids?  What are your favorite apple books?


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