Updated: Oct 18, 2021
So, I decided to split my celebration of all things (at least all kidlit things) Halloween by week so the posts don't get too long. I'll be weaving fall books into Halloween posts as well as into some posts next month. For now, let's get back to those spooky and not-too-spooky children's picture, board and other books ... If you missed the first week of posts, check out It's Halloween Month! (Week 1).
Without further ado, how about some fantastic board books for the little littles? These three "spooky" interactive books offer tactile, lift-the-flap and pop-up fun with bold, delightful illustrations. They're great to read aloud, and my kids have loved exploring each page again and again.
The next recommendation is perfect for budding mad scientists and slime creatives (or those who find their creations in lots of interesting places). Get ghastly gooey with Frankenslime by Joy Keller and Ashley Belote! We had a blast perusing all the names for the slime concoctions! Bonus (but not live) slime recipes in back ...
While we're on the Franken-theme, how about another spin on the creaturific tale? The latest from Samantha Berger and Dan Santat, Crankenstein is just as frightfully lovable and fun for Trick or Treat as in his first book! (My son loves all the costumes!)
Next, for Oct. 13, we adore the illustrations in Erin Barker's Mr. Pumpkin's Tea Party, by the independent Blue Manatee Press based not too far from us in Cincinnati, Ohio. Its gentle rhyme carries a counting narrative, but we'd love to jump into the pages!
Next up, what's Halloween without zombies? This one doesn't dance the Thriller but she sure gets a thrill from--you betcha--BRAINS! Mix a little nonfiction into your daily dose of frightful Halloween tales with Brains! Not Just a Zombie Snack by Stacy McAnulty and Matthew Rivera. This zombie's more cute (and informative) than scary ... and only wants to nibble a little. (Luckily, she's stuck on the page!)
Bonus board book time! Why? Because I love illustrated witches in children's tales, and so should you! Especially this gaggle of pointy-hatted ladies. There's definitely no room on this broom! Count along as each witch takes a dive. It's just super-fun to read aloud, and again, adore the illustrations, including every witch's unique expression ... Hang on tight with Zip! Zoom! on a Broom by Teri Sloat and Rosalinde Bonnet.
About to wrap up Week 2! Let's end on a piratical note! Get your brogue on with Trick ARRR Treat: A Pirate Halloween by Leslie Kimmelman and Jorge Monlongo, a lively romp of a rhyming tale that captures the brash, bold, buoyant spirit of children rampaging on Halloween night! The illustrations rock, and it's just a joy to read aloud!
And finally, it's Halloween picture book bio time! We have lots of great board and picture books so far, including the fantastic nonfiction feast of brains shown a few scrolls up. How about a bio? I've shared this in years past, but it's still one of my favorite picture book biographies AND a great read for fictitious monster season. She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein by Lynn Fulton and Felicita Sala is dark and dazzling at once in its narrative and evocative illustrations. You don't want to overlook this one!
More About Halloween
If you'd like to know about some of the myriad roots of this largely (today) commercialized holiday, check out the video below. Many people in the United States, including myself, tend to take Halloween and its popularity for granted. It's NOT a universal; however, it does embrace and touch on themes universal to the human experience. Many cultures celebrate, honor or ritualize the mysteries (and fears) associated with death and concepts of an afterlife, though they don't all do it with Marvel-inspired superhero costumes. (That's a modern American twist for sure.) Halloween abridges the Christian holiday All Hallows' Eve, the night before All Saints' Day. As with many Christian celebrations, Halloween's roots go deeper, dating from various times and drawing on traditions from many peoples and places.
You can also read my favorite Halloween middle grade novel, The Halloween Tree, by Ray Bradbury!
Different Ways to Enjoy Halloween
Even if you do love Halloween, you don't necessarily enjoy all the things associated with it. I'm not a fan of certain kinds of scary movies, for example, and I can do without the gorier decorations. The candy part I have mixed feelings about as I think it's become excessive and generates too much waste and tooth/health damage. I also worry about the labor practices involved in a great deal of cacao production. (We've started looking into alternatives just to offset the onslaught of sweets and disposable favors.) However, I'm all about ghosties and goblins, scary stories, and crisp autumn twilights as well as the sheer joy of watching kids assume alternate identities and romp through the neighborhood!
The Problems with Cacao
If you want to learn more about labor issues in cacao production, check out:
You can find many alternative chocolate and candy products as well as other ideas if you search online. I bet you might even come up with some of your own!
If you've noticed too much candy coming in the house, consider these options for dealing with the excess. We let our kids keep about half what they get (rationed over subsequent days and weeks) and "buy" the rest from them to give elsewhere: