Sometime around the beginning of October, pumpkins start to appear. In grocery stores, at the hardware store, and, of course, at the pumpkin patch, pumpkins are everywhere in early fall!
While pumpkins may be most prized for their ability to be carved into jack-o-lanterns, they are actually rather fascinating fruits to study in and of themselves.
If you or your children will be learning about pumpkins this fall, check out my review below of 19 books about pumpkins for kids. These children’s books about pumpkins include both non-fiction and fiction selections.
Non-fiction books about pumpkins
Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden by George Levenson
This book uses captivating photography to show the life cycle of pumpkin from seed to plant to flower to plump orange fruit. This book celebrates the beauty of the pumpkin vine, including its twisty tendrils and the sunlit bowls of its flowers. The book’s stunning photography of insects coming to enjoy the pumpkin flower’s nectar and hopping along the large leaves will impress. The rhyming text that accompanies the stunning photographs makes this a very fun and educational read for kids in preschool through elementary school. The back of the book includes tips on growing pumpkins.
From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer
This is a wonderful early science book that explains the pumpkin growth process from seed to mature pumpkin in a friendly way that is easy for kids in preschool through 1st grade to understand.
The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons
This book comes from the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out-Science series, which I just adore. This book provides a detailed description of the process by which a pumpkin seed is planted, a vine grows, pumpkins grow large, and pumpkins are harvested to be used as jack-o-lanterns or pumpkin pies. The book provides lots of scientific facts about this process, albeit at a level that is appropriate for kids in preschool through grade 3. For example, the book discusses how plants make food using sunlight, water, and air (but doesn’t mention big words like photosynthesis or chlorophyl). The lovely illustrations that accompany the text make this book a wonderful way to introduce children to the life cycle of a pumpkin. The back of the book includes additional facts about pumpkins, directions for roasting pumpkin seeds, and an experiment (very similar to this one) to show kids how plants drink water.
This book provides a wealth of fun and factual information about pumpkins. From the fact that pumpkins are part of the squash family to information about how to grow pumpkins to how they came to be associated with holidays like Thanksgiving and Halloween, this book covers a lot of information! Colorful illustrations accompany the text. This book will be a delightful read for preschoolers through 3rd grade.
Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie by Jill Esbaum
This book from National Geographic Kids briefly covers the pumpkin life cycle from seed to sprout to full grown pumpkin fruit. It explains how pumpkins come in many colors and sizes. Kids may particularly enjoy the photograph of people rowing boats made from gigantic, hollowed-out pumpkins! Pumpkin make delicious bread, wonderful pies, and fantastic jack-o-lanterns! The photographs in this book are striking and the language is short and simple. This book will be most enjoyed by kids ages 3 to 7.
Fiction books about pumpkins
How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara
This is a truly lovely book that explores important social themes while mixing in some math and science lessons as well. Charlie is the smallest person in his class, a fact that does not make him very happy. One day his teacher brings in three pumpkins: a large one, a medium one, and a small one. The class has to figure out which pumpkin has the most seeds. The children guess that the largest pumpkin will have the most seeds and the smallest pumpkin will have the fewest seeds. But after opening their pumpkins and counting the seeds by twos, fives, or tens, the students learn that the smallest pumpkin actually had the most! Some wonderful scientific facts about pumpkins are included in the story as well as on the last spread of the book.
How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow? by Wendell Minor
Inspired by the giant pumpkins that win awards at pumpkin festivals each year, the author of this beautifully illustrated book lets his creativity take over. The premise of this book is to imagine all sorts of fun things you could do with a really, really, REALLY big pumpkin. For example, could you carve an enormous pumpkin into a boat and race in a regatta? Can you carve it into a jack-o-lantern that beams as bright at a lighthouse? Could your pumpkin be so large as to fill the Grand Canyon?
Pumpkins by Mary Lyn Ray
An old man lives across from big field. One day he notices a for sale sign on the field. Fearing that the field will get sold to a developer, the old man decides to buy the field to save it. He sells all his possessions, but still does not have enough to buy the field. Considering his options, the man decides to buy a packet of seeds. He sows the seeds in the field, and grows thousands and thousands and thousands of pumpkins. When the pumpkins are ready to harvest, he rents trucks, boats, airplanes, and flying carpets to deliver his pumpkins. He attaches a tag to each pumpkin with instructions for how to make a jack-o-lantern. And he sends his pumpkins to countries all around the world. People from all the different countries purchase his pumpkins in order to carve jack-o-lanterns, bake pumpkin pies, and make pumpkin muffins. Finally, the man has enough money to buy the field next to his house.
The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Steven Kroll
This is an adorable little story of two mice who both find and fall in love with the same little pumpkin growing in the vegetable garden. Both decide to nurture the little pumpkin and grow it into the biggest pumpkin ever, and both have big plans for the big pumpkin they hope to grow. Over several months, one little mouse cares for the pumpkin during the day and the other little mouse cares for the pumpkin during the evening. Neither mouse knows about the other until one night when both come out to put blankets on the pumpkin to protect it from the bitter cold. Both mice discover that the other one has a plan for the pumpkin, and I love the way the two mice compromise so that each can make their dream come true.
Ready for Pumpkins by Kate Duke
Hercules is the class guinea pig in Miss MacGuffey’s first grade classroom. When he goes to the country for summer vacation, he decides to grow his own pumpkin garden. He enlists the help of a rabbit named Daisy, and together they plant some pumpkin seeds. But to Hercules’s dismay, the seeds take a long time to sprout. Neither yelling nor jumping up and down nor digging them up makes them grow faster. The only thing that works is. . . patience!
The Runaway Pumpkin by Kevin Lewis
This story takes place on Halloween day, although Halloween is only a backdrop for the story and not the main focus. In this story, three siblings climb a hill where they find a gigantic pumpkin. The siblings pluck the pumpkin from its stem and begin to roll it down the hill. But no sooner do they start when one hears a “thumping’ bumpin’ sound” as the pumpkin runs away! The runway pumpkin busts through Momma Baxter’s pig sty. It knocks Grampa Baxter to the ground. Finally, at the bottom of the hill, Poppa Baxter sees the pumpkin barreling toward him and quickly creates a soft landing spot for the runaway pumpkin. The family then brings the runaway pumpkin inside where Granny stirs and stews and bakes it into a delicious meal for all.
Sixteen Runaway Pumpkins by Dianne Ochiltree
It is harvest time in the pumpkin patch, and Sam sets out to pick lots of pumpkins for her Gramps. She picks and picks pumpkins until 16 have filled up her wagon. She begins to haul them back to the house when – whoops! The wagon wobbles and the 16 pumpkins tumble out and start rolling down the hill! Some of the pumpkins roll right through Gramps’s front door, smashing on his clean floor. But Gramps isn’t worried – he knows just what to do! And soon the family has baked up several pumpkin pies to enjoy.
The Ugly Pumpkin by Dave Horowitz
This book uses rhyming text to tell the story of a pumpkin that doesn’t look like all the other Halloween pumpkins. He never gets picked like the other pumpkins and because of this, he feels ugly. The ugly pumpkin survives into November where he eventually meets up with some Thanksgiving squash that look just like him. And in the end he learns there’s a perfect place for him at a Thanksgiving table. This book would be appropriate for either Halloween or Thanksgiving. My kids really enjoyed it as a Halloween book, and were so intrigued by why the pumpkin was ugly.
Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman
A witch plants a pumpkin seed in the hopes of harvesting a pumpkin for pumpkin pie. By the time Halloween rolls around, the pumpkin has grown so large that she cannot pluck it from its vine to make her Halloween pumpkin pie. So she enlists the help of other creatures including a ghost, a vampire, a mummy, and a bat. Along the way, young readers will learn the importance of recognizing that everyone – no matter their size – has something to contribute. The text includes rhythmic text and a repetitive storyline that will draw in young readers.
Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper
Cat, Squirrel, and Duck like to make pumpkin soup together. For as long as they can remember, Cat has sliced the pumpkin, Squirrel has stirred the water, and Duck as added the salt. But one day Duck decides he wants to be the one to stir the soup, and a fight erupts among these three friends. When Duck storms off, Cat and Squirrel decide they can make the soup by themselves. However, it doesn’t taste right, and they realize it was a mistake to not give Duck a turn at stirring. Eventually, the three animals are reunited and they cook up the best pumpkin soup they’ve ever made by doing it together. This book touches upon themes of sharing and turn taking with friends. The delightful illustrations vividly portray the emotions of the animals in the story.
Pumpkin Day, Pumpkin Night by Anne Rockwell
The protagonist in this tale knows it is pumpkin time when the leaves turn colors in the fall. That is when his mom takes him to the pumpkin patch to select the perfect pumpkin to take home. His mom also buys 10 small pumpkins to make pie. Mom and son ride home with their 11 pumpkins – one big one and 10 small ones. Once home, they carve the big pumpkin and bake the small ones. The evening ends with a carved pumpkin grinning at the moon and little pumpkins in the oven turning to pie.
Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell
This is a fantastic book to read if you plan to do a pumpkin decomposition activity. This book tells the story of a boy who carves a jack-o-lantern for Halloween, and then leaves it to rot in the backyard when Halloween is over. By springtime, little is left of the jack-o-lantern, as it has mostly decomposed. The boy kicks some dirt over it and forgets about it. But a few weeks later, the boy notices a small spout growing where he left his jack-o-lantern. He cares for the sprout, and eventually it grows into a large vine bursting with pumpkins. The boy harvests his pumpkins and uses one to create a new jack-o-lantern for Halloween. In this way, he completes the cycle from jack-o-lantern to seed to pumpkin to jack-o-lantern once again.
The Very Best Pumpkin by Mark Kimball Moulton
Peter lives on a farm with his grandparents. In the fall, his grandparents’ farm produces wonderful pumpkins of every shape and size. One day Peter notices a long vine that extends well beyond the edge of his grandparents’ field. He follows the vine into a nearby meadow where he discovers a tiny pumpkin growing at the end. From that day on, Peter takes care of the little pumpkin. One day his new neighbor, a girl named Meg, sees Peter caring for his pumpkin. Meg does not disturb Peter, but she continues to watch him care for the growing pumpkin day after day. In the fall, people begin arriving at Peter’s grandparents’ farm to select their pumpkins. Peter helps everyone select just the right pumpkin. Then Meg arrives, but she has difficulty finding just the right pumpkin to take home. Just as she is about to leave, Peter approaches her and suggests that they look somewhere new to find her the perfect pumpkin. He leads Meg to his special pumpkin and offers it to her. She admits that she has been watching him care for the pumpkin, and he admits that he knew she was watching, which is why he wants her to have it. From that day forward, Meg and Peter become best friends. The following year, the two work side by side to prepare the next crop of pumpkins.
Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White
Rebecca Estelle is a grown woman who has sworn to never even look at a pumpkin after spending much of her childhood eating nothing by pumpkin. But one day a pumpkin truck drives by her house, and a pumpkin falls out and lands splat in her yard. She covers it with dirt and vows to never think about the pumpkin again. But several months later, sprouts begin to grow where the pumpkin landed in her yard. However, Rebecca Estelle vows not to water it so that will die. But several weeks later, she notices that the vines have grown. Eventually, despite ignoring the plant completely, Rebecca Estelle’s entire front yard is covered in pumpkins! But how to get rid of them? She devises a plan that brings the whole community together and also erases her negative association with pumpkins for good!
The Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin by Sonali Fry
This board book is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. It features bright illustrations and a rhyming story that can be sung to the tune of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” However, in this story we follow an “itsy bitsy pumpkin” as it rolls down a street and past a variety of Halloween frights including a ghoulish ghost and a pair of stinky goblin feet.
The Roll-Away Pumpkin by Junia Wonders
On a windy autumn day, Marla Little’s pumpkin starts to roll away. “Help!” she calls as she chases her pumpkin all over town after the roll-away pumpkin, past the farmer, baker, milkman, and so on. How will Marla finally get her pumpkin to stop? This tale is whimsical and engaging with repeated phrases throughout that kids will love to recite along with the book.
More pumpkin resources for kids
More pumpkin posts from Gift of Curiosity: