Halloween Book Talk – Read Aloud Easy Readers in Disguise

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Confession: I love autumn. Halloween? Not so much.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore the Linus and his Quest for the Great Pumpkin … its just that I’ve never been big on the holiday itself. Even growing up I was the “boring” characters. Colonial housewife anyone?

What I DO like about Halloween are the cute Halloween picture books. We’ve read and reviewed lots of books with a Halloween theme over the years, from board book to illustrated chapter book to middle grade novel.

My favorites, though, are the easy readers that disguise themselves as picture books. They mix up a brew of fall, fun, humor, and rhyming that go beyond the standard, predictable fare of trick-or-treat. They’re also books that developing readers (think K to 2) can read aloud by themselves or you can share by partner reading, too!

Here are a few of our favorite unique read aloud treats from years’ past and this year, too!

By the Light of the Halloween Moon by Caroline Stutson; illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
(Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 2009)

Ten toes hang over the edge of the pier tapping out a tune. First the cat spots them, then a witch, then a bungling bat, and so on. Each one tries to pinch, grab, or bite those toes. Whose toes are they? Will any of the Halloween guests get them? This is a story in the vein of The House that Jack Built, with each character’s antics adding to previous one.

Reader’s Thoughts: “This one is fun, Mom.” Our 9-year-old loved the “active” illustrations and the surprise at the end when we discover whose toes they are. We spent lots of time exploring the details of the illustrations (like the little crab on the pirate ghost’s pocket). The repetition is perfect for helping new readers as they read aloud, and the illustrations do an exceptional job of adding clues for them to decode words.

Druscilla’s Halloween by Sally M. Walker; illustrated by Lee White
(CarolRhoda Books, 2009) ~ ARC received at BookExpo America 2009

Witches used to walk on tiptoe because when it came to spooking, they wanted to have the element of surprise. Poor Druscilla was anything but sneaky. She tried everything: a donkey spell, a wheelbarrow, even flying with bird feathers didn’t work.

Reader’s Thoughts: This is clever and cute. The dark colors set the Halloween tone, but Druscilla is a cute witch and the pratfalls also keep the story light. This is destined to be a favorite holiday read aloud.

Halloween Forest by Marion Dane Bauer; Illustrated by John Shelley
(Holiday  House, 2012) ~ copy received from publisher

This Halloween the forest is nothing but bones … They’re staring at you, warning you, scaring you. So what do you do? You yell “Boo!” or “Pooh!” or “Wahoo!” Then they have to give you all their candy!

Reader’s Thoughts: The girl on the cover is adorable, the rhyme is impeccable, and the cadence is such that it moves fast and builds suspense to what will happen next. Even after kids know what happens, they’ll want to explore the illustrations more carefully. The cool thing is that they can read this one again and again … by themselves!

One Wish for Winifred Witch by Cheri L. Hallwood; illustrated by Patricia M. Rose (Forever Young Publishers, 2010) ~ personal library

All of the witches in Haunted Hollow are preparing for the big Halloween bash. Except Winifred. She has never gone to the big celebration because she is afraid of the dark. She wishes it weren’t so, but it is. And there isn’t a potion or magic spell to fix it. Her only hope is Aunt Broomhilda. Will she laugh at Winifred? Can she help?

Reader’s Thoughts: This rhyming picture book blends an age-old childhood fear with a Halloween theme. I loved the story and the illustrations are just wonderful. They add both character and depth to the story itself. The solution is clever. Made me want to say “why didn’t I think of that?”

So how to you put the Boo in Book?! Do you have any Halloween favorites we should consider? Do you have a must-read read aloud for the season?