Leaves to My Knees

Camille is determined to rake her own pile of fall leaves that’s big enough to jump in – leaves all the way up to her knees – using the new rake that Daddy gave her. But can she get the job done, when the natural world and her little brother conspire against her? Come out into the yard with Camille and her Daddy and little brother Jayden for an autumn challenge – and some size comparison and measurement math fun. 

Illustration © 2022 by Nicole Tadgell

Includes a note from early childhood mathematics expert Marlene Kliman that shows parents and caregivers how they can help young children explore different sizes and measurement in everyday environments.

An early draft of this book was supported in part by TERC under a grant from the Heising-Simons Foundation. 

To see more of award-winning illustrator Nicole Tadgell’s artwork, click here.

To watch the book trailer, click here.

“Camille and family show how easy it is to weave STEM learning into the everyday.” Publishers Weekly

“Ellen Mayer’s Leaves to My Knees from Star Bright Books is a sweet story about a common event—raking leaves—but is really about much more. It’s a story about family. It’s a story about setting goals, perseverance, and enjoying the rewards of reaching those goals. It’s a story that offers a look at how math is part of everyday life by introducing early math concepts such as size comparison and measurement. Featuring gentle watercolor illustrations by award-winning artist Nicole Tadgell depicting a loving family of color, a beautiful autumn day, and facial expressions showing a range of emotions, young readers ages 3-6 will connect with the story and with Camille as she tries to reach her goal.” – Tanya Konerman for Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2023 

“Leaves to My Knees is a multilayered read aloud infused with the enthusiasm and rhythms of childhood that kids will want to hear again and again. Its mathematics base and themes of determination and perseverance rewarded will appeal to parents, teachers, and other educators as a way to engage children in active, hands-on learning. The book is a must for home, classroom, school, and public library collections.” Kathy Lynn of Celebrate Picture Books

“Leaves to My Knees packs volumes of research-based math, literacy, and emotional development concepts into a sweet and simple story that children will want to read and act out again and again. The gently sentimental and finely detailed storytelling is reflected in both the lilting text and the lyrical watercolor illustrations. It is, first and foremost, the story of a regular family on an autumn day finding the fun, the math, the rhyme, and the love in working together on chores. Our irresistible narrator and intrepid raking-machine Camille walks us through her mathematical thinking as she overcomes obstacles in order to reach her goal. The deeply integrated and developmentally appropriate academic concepts woven together with the realistic representation of a gentle dad and bright young girl of color make us proud to add this title to Tandem’s book collection.” – Kelsey Gottschalk, program director of Tandem, Partners in Early Learning

“This book is a great way to show both children and their caregivers that math is everywhere and can be promoted by everyday activities at any age. In this book size comparisons between how tall the 3 characters are compared to one another, the comparative size of the pile of leaves and the use of non-standard measuring units (to my ankles and to my knees) are wonderful examples of family-based math opportunities.” – Dr. Eugene Geist, professor of early childhood education, Ohio University

Recommended by California Early Math Project

To order

starbright Bookshop amazon

ISBN 978-1-59572-959-0 (Hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-59572-960-6 (Paperback)
Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell
Published by Star Bright Books, 2022
Picture book, 32 pages
For ages 3-6

Hojas hasta las rodillas / Leaves to My Knees, 2022
Spanish/English bilingual edition
ISBN-13: 978-1595729613


Click here to watch author Ellen Mayer and Principal Glenda Soto at Albert F. Argenziano School in Somerville, MA read a page from Leaves to My Knees in English and Spanish.