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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Storytime Anytime: Trick-or-Treat!

Come on, Halloween is about more than free candy, right? Ha! My youngest son who is already ping-ponging off the walls in anticipation of trick-or-treating would vehemently disagree with me. However, I have always loved the entire Halloween season just as much if not more than tummy-busting quantities of sugar. I get excited just thinking about the cooler weather, leaf piles, bonfires, trips to the apple orchard, pumpkin carving, spooky decorations, costumes, etc.

Books are a great way to get your kids into the Halloween spirit. I know that I have mentioned it before, but The Hallo-wiener by Dav Pilkey is one of my absolute favorite Halloween picture books. If you have kids reading chapter books, you may recognize Dav Pilkey as the author of the Captain Underpants and Ricky the Robot series. Just thinking about the little dachshund who is so embarrassed by the hot dog costume his mother gets him for Halloween makes me laugh. The story actually has a wonderful message about the cruelty of teasing. Also, it is incredibly sweet how Oscar decides to wear the costume without complaining, because he does not want to hurt his mother feelings.

The 13 Nights of Halloween by Guy Vasilovich is a spooky spin on The 12 Days of Christmas song. The 13 Days of Halloween by Carol Green is the same sort of story, but I prefer the illustrations in the Vasilovich version.
I love those pigtails tied with bats:)


Every popular picture book series probably has a Halloween edition. Curious George Goes to a Costume Party, Clifford's First Halloween, Fancy Nancy: Halloween...or Bust! to name just a few.  One that I really enjoy is Click, Clack, Boo! by Doreen Cronin. If you are not familiar Click, Clack, Moo Cows that Type; Giggle, Giggle, Quack; Dooby Dooby Moo; and all of the other books starring Farmer Brown's barnyard of mischievous animals you should definitely give them a try. In Click, Clack, Boo! Farmer Brown has gone to bed but everyone in the barn is busy preparing for a fantastic Halloween party! This is a great picture book for younger kids, because it has onomatopoeia (I love that word!) i.e. words that represent sounds such as "creak, creak, creaking"; "crunch, crunch, crunching"; and "tap, tap, tapping".

Of course, you do not have to read stories specifically about Halloween. There are pumpkins, monsters, bats, owls, and a hundred other themes that work for the month of October.

By far, the best picture books featuring bats are by Brian Lies. Naturarally, my personal favorite is Bats in the Library, but all of the books in this series are amazing! Kids will love the rhyming text and beautifully detailed illustrations. 
See if you can figure out all of the stories that the bats are reading.

You cannot get into the Halloween spirit without reading stories about witches and monsters. Two wonderful witch books to read aloud are A Very Brave Witch and Only a Witch Can Fly, both written by Alison McGhee.

Only a Witch Can Fly is a more subdued story, but it is elegant and beautiful. Taeeun Yoo's linoleum block illustrations are breathtaking and give the book a dreamlike quality. If you enjoy the artwork in Only a Witch Can Fly you can learn more about Taeeun Yoo and her career in this interview.
I do not want to leave out older kids, so two, more mature picture books starring witches are The Widow's Broom by the inimitable Chris Van Allsburg and Heckedy Peg by Audrey Wood. For some strange reason, Heckedy Peg was my daughters favorite book in kindergarten. I remember her giggling hysterically every time I would cackle in my best witch's voice, "I'm Heckedy Peg. I've lost my leg. Let me in."

Ok, on to monsters because, in my opinion, those are the most fun. I adore Mercer Meyer (Little Critter) and my favorite books by him are There Are Monsters Everywhere, There's Something in the Attic, There's a Nightmare in My Closet, and There's an Alligator Under My Bed. I know, Halloween is not mentioned in any of these books, but they are hilarious with adorable illustrations of monsters. Also, each book features a child conquering their fear of monsters which is a great topic when there are ghouls, goblins, witches, skeletons, etc. decorating every house.

Aaaah, there are so many different crafts you can do this time of year!!! I am just going to share a couple that I have done in recent years. The torn paper pumpkin is perfect for the wee ones, because it is so simple. Basically, you just tear up orange paper and glue it to a paper plate.  Make sure you let your little one do the tearing (you may have to show them how). This is a great pre-writing activity, because it helps strengthen the small muscles in their fingers.

Next we have paint sample bookmarks. If you are going to "borrow" a lot of green paint samples you may want to hit more than one hardware store. I used the larger rectangles that were one solid shade of green (and I took multiple shades so everyone could pick the green that they liked the best) to make witches and Frankenstein's monsters.

As you may have noticed, I love to make hats for kids to wear. I know that they are a little hard to see in the picture, but each child is wearing a cone hat with a cat head on the front and a tail glued to the back. I have also made paper bat headbands with kids. Obviously, I enjoy making kids look silly and taking their pictures.

If you are looking for a game (or just want your kids to burn off some of that sugar induced mania) put on some Monster Mash music and dance. You can play freeze dancing or my version of musical chairs, musical pumpkins, shown in the video below.
For all of you bookworms here are some amazing Halloween costumes inspired by some of our favorite children's literature characters.I have to throw in this picture of my kids a few years ago dressed as Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and a red Chinese fireball dragon.

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