Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Great Books for Halloween

One of the funnest parts about Fall is all the great picture books available out there full of illustrations with fall colors and fall themes.  I thought those of you spending most of your time with Elementary kids and younger might really appreciate a book list of some of the best books for Halloween - and related "spooky" themes.  Numbers at the end of a paragraph will signal you to my top five picks.

The classic poem "Over in the Meadow" has inspired two sweet books with the same rhythmic sense and pattern as "Over in the Meadow".  "Little Goblins Ten" by Pamela Jane is really fun, but my favorite is "Over in the Hallow" by Rebecca Dickenson.  It might be my favorite because of the two it was the one I encountered first, or it might be the cartoony, almost doll-like creatures in the illustrations, or maybe it is because in keeping with superstitious tradition, instead of ending at twelve, this one goes all the way to thirteen.  Both book are Great, but unfortunately for "Little Goblins Ten", "Over in the Hallow" is my all-time favorite Halloween picture book.  #1

Another spooky parody was written by Rick Walton, though the name listed on the cover is Ludworst Bemonster and aims at giving the classic Madeline tales a scary run for their money.  In this clever take, instead of winding up in the hospital for a broken bone, Frankenstein winds up in the hospital because he literally loses his head hence the name, "Frankenstein".  Alice thought the twist was pretty funny.

If you have a budding ballerina on your hands, she might enjoy, "Vampirina Ballerina" by Anne Marie Pace.  Its message that practice makes perfect is a great one and the illustrations of the little Ballerina not quite staying on her two feet at the beginning of the story give the illustrations a sweetness.

"The Witch Who Was Afraid of Witches" is a wonderful early reader's chapter book in which the young witch gains empowerment through the knowledge of her own special talents and the lack of the requirement that magic be performed with perfection.  This book by Alice Low could also result in a great conversation about decision, consequence, love, friendship and respect. 

"The Haunted Ghoul Bus" by Lisa Trumbauer is super cute, uses strong verbs and was published in that format with pages not quite as thick as board book pages but thicker than the pages used in most books and with embossing so kids in that in-between can enjoy feeling the pages while Mommy reads the story to them.  For kids who might actually hop on "The Haunted Ghoul Bus", the story is a magical journey through fear to comfort and fun.  I'll be watching to see if I can hop aboard somehow on the 31st myself.  #3

"Creepy Carrots" by Aaron Reynolds is a great one to use for Halloween, but its also a good one for helping kids deal with night time fears of shadows and monsters under the bead.  This book has to be one of my top five picks for a great and laughable twist at the end.  It had Alice on the edge of her seat, totally still, and totally silent right up until the last page when she let out the breath she'd been holding with a snort and a chuckle followed by her big toothless smile.  #5

"Boo to You" by Louis Ehlert has illustrations in her typically whimsical collage style.  This book is a great one to introduce your little one to traditions from All Hallow's Eve because the mice throw a party with lots of treats and play a prank.  "Halloween Mice" will offer up similar fair for a similar age group with super cute mousy illustrations.  In "Halloween Mice" by Bethany Robers how trick or treating works is more evident and clear and she uses wonderful onomatopoeia which always intrigue young children.  "Halloween Is" by Gail Gibbons is another fabulous book for introducing your youngest child to all the symbols and excitements of the holiday and although it is less whimsical than either of the two about mice, it is more complete if an introduction to traditions is your goal. 

"By the Light of the Halloween Moon" by Caroline Stutson falls at number two for "favorites".  This is a cumulative rhyming poem with just the right amount of suspense to be "spooky", without being so spooky it results in nightmares.  The repetitive action of these kinds of cumulative poems is always popular with kids, but in this case, it adds to the suspense somehow as well.  The illustrations also tow the line between spooky and scary hitting just the right note for you preschool kids on Halloween.  Make sure your kids get to experience this one over and over and over and over again. #2

Choosing to use books about bats and other nocturnal animals is also a popular way to go this time of year.  First of all, it gets dark enough, early enough that kids might actually get the opportunity to see some of these critters when they definitely would not be seen during the summer months when kids are usually headed to bed before or only shortly after the sun has gone down. 

"Sellaluna" by Janell Cannon, and "Nightsong" by Ari Berk are both wonderful bat books that are neither spooky nor about Halloween, but make for fabulous reading anyway.  Stellaluna definitely fills the remaining slot of number four in my "top five" selections for October picture book reading with "Bats at the Beach" a close sixth.  "Bats at the Beach" is actually part of a series that also includes, "Bats at the Library" and "Bats at the Ballgame" by Brian Lies.  All of the books are wonderful but there is just something about "Bats at the Beach that strikes me as particularly fun for some reason.  # 4

Of course there are a gazillion other wonderful books and resources.  Halloween is addressed in the Corduroy, Biscuit and Arthur series as well as others I'm sure.  Plus, I just haven't read everything there is out there anyway.  If you have a favorite not listed here, PLEASE share it in a comment!  There is nothing better than experiencing a great classic or brand new story for the first time together.