Saturday, October 23, 2010

Best Halloween Picture Books for Preschool to Primary Grades

These books can be enjoyed by all ages, but they were chosen as ones that would be especially pleasing to preschool aged children (ages 0-6).

Mouse’s First Halloween (ages 1-6) by Lauren Thompson (fiction)
I adore this book’s free verse poetic form and captivating illustrations!  On Halloween night, a little mouse hears an assortment of sounds outside around the farm where he lives.  On the next page, the source of the sound is revealed, which are things like a scarecrow, kittens, falling apples, a jack-o-lantern, and so forth.  This book is perfect for practicing predicting skills.  After each sound (onomatopoeia), children can guess, using the visual and auditory clues, what they think it is.  Of course, there is a great use of onomatopoeia (sound words), so identify them together and differentiate them from the other words.  Also, there are repetitive words and phrases at predictable places that children can recite along with or in place of the adult reader.  All the images are welcoming and amiable.  Children will want to read this one over and over.  This book is my number one pick! 

Sweets and Treats (ages 0-5) by Tony Trent Parker (poetry)
Using a snappy, rhyming verse, the joy of dressing up on Halloween is depicted.  Full-color photographs of children ages 1-5 accompany each quatrain of poetry describing the costume or the holiday.  Children are dressed in many holiday favorites like a pirate, a princess, a firefighter, and a clown.  In addition, smaller pictures of other Halloween favorites, such as cookies, candy corn, and jack-o-lanterns are highlighted.  While reading, younger children can guess the costume while older children can identify rhyming words or talk about their favorite costumes.

Moonlight: The Halloween Cat (ages 1-7) by Cynthia Rylant (fiction)
The enchantment of Halloween night is captured though the eyes of a lovable Halloween cat.  As she wanders through the night, she sees animals (owls, rabbits, bats, and raccoons), children trick or treating, the wonders of nature (full moon and stars reflecting in the water), and jack-o-lanterns.  Relate the cat’s experience walking around at night to the audience’s (children’s) experience.  They can share which of those night wonders they have observed (and maybe some others that are not mentioned in the book) on Halloween or any other night they have been outside.  The luminous illustrations induce a soothing and friendly view of the night and the holiday.  Also, introduce or reinforce the concept of personification (the cat, the pumpkins that smile at her, and the straw laps that welcome her).  Finally, highlight that the point of view is of a cat.  Invite them to ponder why the author used a cat to tell the story. 

Halloween Night (ages 2-7) by Elizabeth Hatch (fiction)
This book is cumulative tale, following the same format as The House that Jack Built, which takes place on Halloween night. The collective chain of events begin with a friendly jack-o-lantern and mouse, but a bat, an owl, a cat, a child dressed as a ghost, and a dog all interact to bring the tale back to the mouse and jack-o-lantern enjoying a treat together. The whimsical and bright illustrations along with the rhyming and amusing text are sure to capture preschool readers’ attention.  This story can also be used to make predictions, especially in the downward action of the climax (when the child trips) and discuss the concept of cause & effect.  If you like this type of book, also check out This is the Pumpkin by Abby Levine. 

Pumpkin Eye (ages 4-8) by Denise Fleming
I have a little apprehension on this story, but it is because I am ultra sensitive to scary images.  I try to avoid them, especially at Halloween, because I do not want my children to associate the holiday with evil.  Overall, I really love the poetic, rhyming text with a fun repetition, “Trick or Treat—pounding feet.”  The pictures are bright, blurry images of Halloween night—jack-o-lanterns, children in costumes, black cats, and so forth.  Some of the costumes look a little to realistic, like the witch and the skeleton.  This book is worth reading, but I’d suggest you examine it in advance (especially for younger children) to make sure you feel comfortable with it. 

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