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Thursday, October 18, 2018

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Ha! You thought that this post was going to be about Christmas didn't you? Nope, the best time of the year is most definitely Halloween!! My love of October and everything spookalicious that the month brings comes from my Dad. The man introduced me to Stephen  King and horror movies and frequently referred to his massive collection of Halloween decorations as my inheritance.

I have already written two blog posts about Halloween and scary books for kids (which you should absolutely read) but I cannot help myself. Every year I find new ghost, witch, monster, and jack-o-lantern stories that are so much fun I just have to share them.

One of my two year old's favorite books are Don't Push the Button by Bill Cotter so I was thrilled to see that Cotter had written a Halloween story featuring Larry the purple monster. In Don't Push the Button: A Halloween Treat Larry is out trick-or-treating when he happens upon a house that looks a little scary. Of course he implores the reader not to push the doorbell button on what looks like a haunted house (but we know that is exactly what the young reader is going to do). Interactive picture books are incredibly popular right now in children's literature and all of Cotter's books are spectacular. Little ones are instantly drawn in and become not just listeners but integral characters in the story.

Another recently published book that has instantly become one of my favorites for an October story time is Pumpkins, Pumpkins Everywhere by Smriti Prasadan-Hall. The adorable rhyming story follows four trick-or-treaters as they encounter a variety of jack-o-lanterns lit with happy, sad, surprised, frightened, and angry faces. Not only is Pumpkins, Pumpkins Everywhere a charming Halloween picture book it's also an excellent introduction to emotions and how are face can express said emotions. Nothing is more hilarious than a group of toddlers giving you their best surprised or silly faces:)

So, a monster named Larry and lots of jack-o-lanterns. How about ghosts? I particularly love Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara. The high contrast illustrations and simple text are perfect for babies and toddlers but even older listeners will enjoy how the tiny witch and her cat take repurpose the ghosts in the house. I highly recommend Kohara's other books: Here Comes Jack Frost, The Midnight Library, and The Little Wizard.

 Another graphic picture book for Halloween is Ten Orange Pumpkins by Stephen Savage. This may appear to be just a simple counting book, but the silhouette illustrations are beautiful and striking. I also like how the author gives clues in the text and pictures so little ones can guess what they think is going to happen to each pumpkin.

Although not specifically Halloween I always read Creepy Carrots and Creepy Pair of Underwear this time of year. You have to watch this hilarious video created by Peter Brown in which he talks about his inspiration for the illustrations.  Even adults will be laughing hysterically at Jasper Rabbit as he is haunted first by his favorite snacks and then by a ghoulishly glowing pair of briefs.

I am pretty sure that I have made just about every Halloween craft there is to make by now. From cotton ball ghost and tissue paper pumpkins to puff ball spiders and Q-tip skeletons. My story time kids have actually been getting quite a bit younger in recent years so I have had to simplify not just my books but my activities. One of the crafts that I really enjoyed this year was plastic bag painting. Basically I put a pumpkin in a ziploc bag with red and yellow paint and the little ones had to smush it around till they made orange. I actually laminated the pumpkins so they would not soak through with paint. The kids loved that they got to play with paint and the grown ups were very happy that the mess was all contained.

I love making things that kids can actually play with so puppets are always fun. If you look in the scrapbooking section of the store they have these little circle punches that make perfect holes for finger puppets. The foamy eyes that I used for the bat puppets were 50% off and they are much less likely to fall off than google eyes. I like to use poster board for puppets because it is stiffer, but if you don't have any on hand cut up old cereal boxes. With four kids I always have a few dozen sitting in my recycling bin. You can paint or color over the cardboard or cover them with colored paper. Monsters are easy because you can cut out a bunch of crazy parts or draw them on and the weirder the better.

The kids definitely seemed to have the most fun making their haunted houses this year. Meijer always has holiday sticker books for only $1 and I have yet to meet a young child who does not light up at the sight of stickers. I traced a simple outline of a haunted house on black paper and cut out yellow rectangles for windows. Then the kids went batty (Halloween pun!) sticking ghosts, witches, skeletons, pumpkins, etc. all over the houses (and themselves).

So, that covers the little kids for another Halloween. I will talk about books for the older kids in another post.