Halloween is just around the corner, and spooky stories are all around. Though tales of goblins and ghouls may frighten young children, reading a good story is the perfect way to get you both in the spirit of the holiday. And, while Halloween may be a creepy and frightening night for a young child, not all Halloween stories are scary. Some of them are funny, sweet, or just plain fun!
Carol Phaling, an elementary school librarian, always reads a batch of Halloween-themed books to her students in late October. Here are her favorites:
- Mouse’s First Halloween by Lauren Thompson. Illustrated by Buket Erdogan. (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2000). Mouse is out exploring on Halloween night and he hears all sorts of strange noises. What could they be? Your child will enjoy guessing what Mouse hears as you turn the pages. “I read this story every year to the first grade classes,” says Phaling, “and they love the chance to participate in the reading experience.”
- Bat Jamboree by Kathi Appelt. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. (HarperCollins Publishers, 1996). All of the farm animals gather around to watch the annual bat jamboree. Fifty-five bats sing, dance, dive, and entertain the crowd of animals. The rhyming text and adorable illustrations make this book a hit with young children preschool through second grade. Phaling says it works on two levels: While younger children practice their counting, older kids can work on addition. Plus, there's even some humor for parents to enjoy.
- We’re Off to Find the Witch’s House by Mr. Krieb. Illustrated by R. W. Alley. (Dutton Children’s Books, 2005). Young children dressed in Halloween costumes are off to find the witch’s house, but they aren't afraid. Along the way they encounter an owl, a skeleton, and a ghost. When they finally get to the witch’s house they are in for a nice surprise. “Children love books with repetition, rhyme, and alliteration and this book uses these literary devices very well,” says Phaling.
- Pumpkin Cat by Ann Turner. Illustrated by Amy June Bates. (Hyperion Books for Children, 2004) A lost orange tabby finds a home at a local library. The librarians and the young children feed him and take care of him. Soon word gets around that there is a cat at the library and a black kitten is found on the doorstep with this card: “My name is Halloween Cat, and I need a home. I like to purr, and tuna is my favorite food. I hear this library likes cats.”
- The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons. (Holiday House Books, 1999) This colorful, nonfiction book for children kindergarten through grade three teaches how pumpkins are grown from seeds and harvested on farms. “Teachers love to check this book out every year to show their students how pumpkins are grown,” says Phaling.
Halloween is a holiday with many customs and traditions, some of which can seem frightening to young children. But the books kids read during this holiday don’t need to be scary – especially when there are so many sweet, charming Halloween books available. So what are you waiting for? Head to your local library to get into the Halloween spirit!