“When witches go riding, and black cats are seen, the moon laughs and whispers, ’tis near Halloween.” (Author Unknown)
There’s something mysterious, chilling, and spooky this month for the following read-alouds! I think we all enjoy a spine tingling story at any age. As always, the following titles are books I’m quite fond of reading during the month of October. A select few I’ve been sharing with children for literally decades! One in particular is, Little Orphant Annie, by James Whitcomb Riley. My mom read this to me when I was a child. I in turn, have carried on the family tradition by reading and sharing it with my own three daughters plus countless of students who have listened to it during their Library Story Time. I think you’ll want to add these to your collection!
The House that Drac Built by Judy Sierra
Fun Halloween version of The House that Jack Built! There is quite an array of creatures found throughout this rhyming cumulative tale such as a zombie, werewolf, mummy, and a bat – just to name a few! The children love chiming in with the lines as the story progresses. The illustrations done by Will Hillenbrand are bold, colorful but not too scary! Very entertaining!
The Little Old Lady who was not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams
A little old lady is walking through the woods when she’s approached by pants, shoes, a shirt, a hat, and a pumpkin head. They eventually follow her home to scare her but the little old lady has other plans for them! This succeeds with children because there is much to act out throughout the story. They clomp, clap, nod, wiggle, and shout out BOO!! Delightful story to read aloud!
Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley
Of course this holds a special place in my heart each time I read it to children! It’s one of those stories children ask me why I’m not looking at the pages as I read it to them. It’s because it is imprinted in my mind and my heart! A child tells the story of Little Orphant Annie who comes to their house to work but once the chores are finished she sits by the fire to tell them “witch tales.” By the end of the story the children join in with me repeating and shouting the phrase, “The gobble-uns ‘ll git you ef you don’t watch out!!”
Monster Goose by Judy Sierra
Here are various funny and laugh out loud fractured Mother Goose nursery rhymes with a scary twist from Monster Goose herself! Children readily identify with the original rhymes as I read these new creepy ghoulish rhymes! Just to spark your interest how about these titles: Werewolf Bo Creep, Mary had a Vampire Bat, and Slithery Dithery Dock! My favorite is, Cannibal Horner…. A tasty young morsel am I!”
Old Devil Wind by Bill Martin Jr.
Old Devil Wind is a guaranteed success as a cumulative tale read aloud! The spooky ghost and the dark haunted surroundings of the old house set the stage for some fun as the story begins. As the tale progresses kids will love to join in with the line, “It was a dark and stormy night,” until the very pleasurable ending!
The Perfect Pumpkin Pie by Denys Cazet
Jack and his grandmother move into “the Old Wilkerson place” only to be scared by the ghost of old Mr. Wilkerson who died on Halloween as he was about to take a bite of his wife’s freshly baked pie! He was a cantankerous unpleasant man when he was alive but now that he has come back to haunt them he is even worse! He’s in search of The Perfect Pumpkin Pie! “Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkin pie! I must have one before I die. It must be round and brown as toast, or I’ll haunt this house a hungry ghost.” (Cazet)
Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper
Here’s a delicious October tale that weaves in the idea of cooperation among friends. Duck, Cat, and Squirrel each have certain jobs to do when it comes to making Pumpkin Soup. One morning Duck awakens before any one else and decides HE will be the one who stirs the soup today. Trouble ensues when Squirrel doesn’t want to relinquish his job! This is a good story to discuss with children on how they should work together on a task and the importance of taking turns. There is also a delicious recipe for pumpkin soup found at the end of the story.
Sheep Trick or Treat by Nancy Shaw
I’m a fan of all of the Sheep books by Nancy Shaw! The illustrations by Margot Apple delightfully add to this rhyming imaginary tale….”As the Halloween moon rises/ Sheep are fixing up disguises…” (Shaw) The costumes are appealing to children because they are some of their favorites: dinosaurs, mummies, witches, and vampires! It’s fun to see how the wolves in the story are fooled by the sheep!
The Widow’s Broom by Chris Van Allsburg
AH!!! I simply adore this book! Chris Van Allsburg is such a brilliant storyteller. The illustrations compliment this witch tale. Readers are quickly drawn into the very opening of the story, “Witches’ brooms don’t last forever. They grow old, and even the best of them, one day, lose the power of flight…. On very rare occasions, however, a broom can lose its power without warning, and fall, with its passenger, to the earth below … which is just what happened one cold autumn night many years ago.” (Van Allsburg) Minna Shaw discovers a witch’s broom AND the witch in her field because the broom has lost its’ powers. She cares for the witch briefly until she has recovered. The witch leaves with the help of another witch but she has left behind her old broom for Minna. Minna quickly discovers it hasn’t completely lost its’ powers. She puts the brooms’ magical capabilities to good use around her home. Then one day a neighbor spies the broom chopping wood. He thinks it is evil and he plots to destroy it. Children are always enthralled by this mysterious tale with a quite astounding ending!