I’m back to the blog for my favorite time of year–fall. Halloween and Christmas probably tie for my favorite holiday, and since Halloween is nearer, it’s my current favorite. My memories of Halloween involve costumes specially made by my mom, the excitement of my dad taking me trick-or-treating round the neighborhood, and of course, the deliciously spooky Halloween books we would check out from the library.
I’d like to share a few of my childhood favorites as well as our family’s current favorites, and I’d love any recommendations you have, if you’d like to leave a comment!
Picture books for elementary-age children:
My all-time favorite as a child was Old Mother Witch, by Carol & Donald Carrick. Unfortunately this one is very difficult to find. Our library used to have it, and I’ve just discovered it’s no longer showing up in their search engine, so I clearly need to track it down and purchase a copy for our home. If yours has it, go grab it! This story has a sweet message common in many children’s Halloween picture books, of not judging people by their appearances.
My other childhood favorite, which our library still miraculously has available, is Old Black Witch, by Wende and Harry Devlin. I toy with buying this one every year. It makes a fun read aloud because Old Black Witch is such a mess. Get your best cackly witch’s voice going and have fun with it! (Her favorite epithets are “Boo! Scat! And ratcha fratch!”) The witch, while a certifiable old grouch and liking to seem mean, shows her true colors when she has the opportunity to help out the mother and son who have moved into “her” house. (This book also works for younger children.)
The Hallo-wiener by Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants author & illustrator), is a funny modern favorite in which a dachshund bullied by the other dogs shows kindness to (and rescues) the bullies when they find themselves in a scary situation. The term “scary” is used loosely here; cats in costume aren’t likely to give anyone bad dreams.
AlphaOops: H is for Halloween, by Alethea Kontis, is a fun romp through the alphabet using Halloween characters and themes. Don’t be fooled into thinking alphabet books are always for little kids; this is one is more aimed toward the elementary set, though like most it can work for younger ones too.
I’m also a fan of the Arthur books, by Marc Brown, and Arthur’s Halloween is a fun one too. My favorite part is that the Brain dresses up as a baked potato. (Also good for younger children.)
For the younger set (although my elementary student still enjoys hearing many of these too):
Big Pumpkin, by Erica Silverman, is based on the Russian folktale “The Turnip.” Different Halloween “personalities” (a witch, vampire, mummy, and ghost) take turns trying to get the big pumpkin off the vine so the witch can make them all a pumpkin pie. It’s not until an unlikely character comes along that they stumble upon the only way to get it out.
The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree, by Stan and Jan Berenstain, isn’t necessarily a Halloween book, but it fits well and has been around a long while. So simple many young ones who are learning to read could read along or take turns reading with you. There’s also The Berenstain Bears Trick or Treat which I also loved as a kid; it has that same theme of “appearances can be deceiving.” (Especially the latter works for older children as well.)
We just got Minerva Louise on Halloween, by Janet Morgan Stoeke, from the library, and my 3-year old loves it. It’s perfect for that age because they are just old enough to “get” the jokes of the book. The chicken, Minerva Louise, doesn’t at all understand the concept of Halloween. She thinks the kids having a Halloween party on her farm are farmers who are extremely thirsty (bobbing for apples) and that they really enjoy corn, just like her (candy corn)!
I’m going to stop myself here today, and I will post additional Halloween recommendations (including poetry, short stories, and chapter book excerpts) as well as general fall books in the next week. Until then, read on!