I have to open with this one because it is my newest choice and it is awesome! Any book with glowing green underwear that you can’t get rid of has got to be amazing. The book, Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds, is another story following Jasper the rabbit, who you may recognize as the star of Creepy Carrots. Jasper needs new underwear, and there in the midst of all the tighty whities is a pair of creepy underwear that Jasper thinks are “glorious.” When he gets them home and puts them on one night, everything is great until “...the underwear glowed. A ghoulish, greenish glow.” Admittedly, the artwork by Peter Brown is so fun in this book. Jasper soon learns that when your underwear is creepy and glows, sleep is difficult. This starts Jasper’s quest to be rid of the underwear. This book is so fun, and it is about creepy, glowing green underwear: c’mon, you know the kids will make this their favorite as well.
There are two books on the lists which are poetry collections, An Eyeball in My Garden, selected and edited by JenniferCode Judd and Laura Wynkoop, and Trick-or-Treat by Debbie Leppanen. The first book, An Eyeball, has longer rhyming poems and black and white illustrations. It is the creepier book of the two, but still has dashes of the gross and the humorous. Pick your favorites to share with your kids. The Trick-or-Treat book is much more whimsical. It has bright, fun illustrations and operates with short, quick turning poems your kids will enjoy reading aloud.
The titles of the next two books speak for themselves! Extreme Pumpkins and Extreme Pumpkins II by Tom Nardone are attention-grabbing non-fiction titles. They offer instructions on how to make a wide variety of carved pumpkins. Better still, there is a picture of each pumpkin, which is really what interests the kids. A few of my favorites include the puking pumpkin, the booger-eating pumpkin, and the afraid-of-pie-pumpkin. Note, if you only have a chance to get one of these books, the second is much more fun and child-friendly than the first.
This next book is destined to be a librarian’s classic. Bats in the Library by Brian Lies was published in 2008 and continues to be a favorite of many readers, especially librarians. It tells the story, in rhyme, with fantastically illustrated pages, of a night bats find their way into the library. The bats explore the library in the manner of children, checking out the computers and the copy machine, flipping through pop-up books, and listening to story time. This book needs to be in your collection, and it will be read for years to come.
Yes, the author of this book is THE Jerry Seinfeld. Halloween is the book that will make kids laugh and they will tell their parents and friends about it. However, it is the adult reader that may have the hardest time reading this one without cracking up. Luckily, you can find a copy with a CD where Seinfeld actually does the reading. It is basically a clean, stand-up routine about Halloween. Also, there is a really good lesson you can teach kids about how illustrations work together with text in this book. This one will make you laugh and remember the old Halloween costumes you used to wear.
Selected next is a good, spooky read with a repetitive refrain. It plays on children’s imaginations and how it can run away from them. On a Windy Night by Nancy Raines Day will have kids sitting on the edge of their seats, wondering if our young treat-or-treater from the story is going to make it home safe, or if something is after him. The resolution is like a sigh of relief, and you can see the children visibly smile when they realize everything will be okay. But you haven’t turned all the pages yet…
I don’t think any collection is complete without a book of goofy jokes. I’ve chosen Kooky Halloween Jokes to Tickle Your Funny Bone by Linda Bozzo for that honor today. This collection of jokes is very kid-friendly and will get good laughs from your early elementary crowd. Some of them are so ghoulishly bad, you’ll have no choice but to chuckle along. You’ll find many knock-knock jokes, limericks, and things like this: How does a witch know what time it is? She looks at her witch watch.
Another great read for campfire settings, October, or anytime you want a little fright is Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz. This is a collection of old stories and folklore many of you may have forgotten from your childhood. All the stories in this book are short to very short, and several can be read in one setting. I have used these for scary story time for both a 4th-5th grade group and a middle school group. There are some great, repetitive stories and thought-provoking stories in here. My favorite, however, are the "jump stories." These are the ones where you stomp your foot, or get real quiet, sucking the readers in before making a loud noise and watching them all jump. I recommend picking a few for your reading and practicing them so that you'll be able to maximize the fun and spookiness of these tales.
If you have read Gail Gibbons, you’ll know she seems to have cornered the non-fiction holiday market. The selection of books she writes always begins with the holiday name followed by is. Our selection, of course, is titled Halloween Is… Depending on which holiday in the series you are reading, the books tend to offer a little historical information, some anecdotal stories about legends associated with the holiday, and descriptions of the types of activities people participate in during those holidays. Admittedly, there are times I wonder about the line between fiction and non-fiction in these books, but the simple drawings and easy subject material do offer a quick summation of the holiday.
Sometimes, you just can’t beat a picture book with good sounds. Add well-drawn, colorful illustrations of a couple bunnies dressed for Halloween, and you have Boo, Bunny by Kathryn O. Galbraith. This book must be read aloud with inflection and enthusiasm. Read it right, and kids will lean in when you whisper, and jump in their seats when your voice gets loud. Add the right sound effects, and your kids will ask you to read it over and over. It is a simple story about two rabbits finding each other for a night of trick-or-treat fun and friendship. You will find yourself eager to read this one aloud again and again.
Do you have a willful child in your home or class? If so, then Annie Was Warned by Jarrett J. Krosoczka will resonate with you and that child. Annie can’t be told anything; she is going to do what she wants. When everyone warns Annie not to go to the creepy house on Halloween night, does she listen? Of course not; you see, Annie isn’t scared. What follows is a short tale of possibly creepy things followed by questions like, “Was it a spider?” Of course, each time it wasn’t. This builds expectations up until the point when Annie arrives at the old mansion and there are warning signs posted everywhere. Still, Annie opens the door and then...well, read it.
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