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I absolutely LOVE Halloween, even though I know that a lot of schools are banning Halloween parties like we used to have when I was in school.
It kind of makes me sad because I have so many fond memories of Halloween growing up, but I do understand how careful schools need to be these days with all of the blood and gore and bloody axes in the head and all the rest of it that unfortunately sometimes shows up at those school parties.
However, the fun of Halloween is still alive and well in childhood, and there’s just something super fun about getting to dress up to be someone or something completely different than real life for one night of the year.
My parents LOVE Halloween. In our house, we had this giant “Tickle Trunk” in our basement that was filled with all sorts of dress-up stuff and odds and ends, and my mom is one of the most creative people I know. She literally can make an entire costume up from nothing!
In fact, when I was only 12 years old, our family went on a trip to California. We were living in Saskatchewan, Canada, at the time, so California seemed REALLY exotic to me, and that’s probably why I decided I really wanted to live there when I got older!
When we were in Los Angeles, we went to a place called Game Show Alley where they record all of the game shows, and my mom actually got on the show, “Let’s Make a Deal,” and won a car dressed as a bag of garbage – a costume she just made up on the spot in the parking lot with a huge black trash bag and a bunch of newspapers.
She’s really amazing at creating creative costumes, and I still think it’s hilarious that she went on national TV dressed as a bag of garbage…
So, dressing up and Halloween are in my blood, so I LOVED doing special projects with my students around Halloween.
Therefore, today, I’m going to share not only 10 of my very favorite books for Halloween, but I’m also going to share a fantastic and super fun Glow-in-the-Dark Haunted House Literacy Project that you can do with your own students, whether you are teaching 1st or 5th grade, that your students are going to absolutely love!
You can adapt this project to any grade and you can either choose to use Halloween-themed books like the ones I’m going to share with you today, or you can use ANY books or stories that you are currently working on with your students. So, I’ll tell you more about that project after I share some of my favorite Halloween books with you.
I much prefer Halloween books that are on the silly side rather than the scary side, so you’re going to find that the selections I have here are more designed to make fun of being scared, rather than to instill fear in kids.
Sometimes kids in older grades genuinely love to be scared, but I’m just afraid of what I don’t know – I don’t want to traumatize anyone in my classroom without realizing it, and I certainly don’t want any nasty phone calls from parents because of the books I’ve chosen.
And by the way, I love to use read alouds all the way up to 6th grade because even if the story seems a little young for the students, you can instead invite your students into conversations about the author’s craft and storytelling, and how the author and illustrator work together to weave another world and make a story real and engaging and entertaining for their audience.
There’s so much that older students can learn from authors like these about the power of inviting your audience into an imaginary world that you’ve created, so these books are by no means only for younger students!
Please Note: You can purchase any of these books directly from Amazon by clicking on the book images. I am an Amazon Affiliate, so I will receive a small commission if you purchase one of my favorites using these links.
This is such a great book that it has also been turned into an adorable and very well made video, and it’s free on Amazon Prime now! Just click here to see the video of this adorable book here.
It also may be fun to do a comparison of the book to the movie with your students.
This book and video is about a friendly witch who invites an entire collection of animals to join her for a ride on her broom, but her cat doesn’t think that’s such a great idea because there might not be room for everyone. She might have a bit of a jealous cat. 😊
However, the cat soon realizes that their new friends are actually helpful. I think your students are going to love this one!
The second book I love to read with my students on Halloween is Snowmen at Halloween.
You might know other books in this creative series by Caralyn M. Buehner called Snowmen at Night which I also love, and also Snowmen at Work and Snowmen at Play.
In this book, Snowmen at Halloween, kids are invited to ponder what snowmen do when they are left all alone – so I love that this book invites imagination and creative thinking.
In this story, a few kids make snowmen after an early snowfall, and of course, when the kids go to bed, the snowmen begin to play... and they even create their very own fall festival! When the kids come back to check on their snowmen the next morning, they are gone – but they’ve left the kids a very special message. 😊
The illustrations in this book are fabulous, and I think your students are going to love it!
If you know Aaron Reynold’s other book, Creepy Carrots, you are going to love this one, Creepy Pair of Underwear.
For this book, Aaron Reynolds teams up with Caldecott Honor winner Peter Brown to tell the story about a very brave little bunny and a very creepy pair of underwear. And of course, any book featuring a pair of underwear is going to be popular with your Kindergarten to 3rd grade crowd.
Basically, the little bunny in this story, Jasper Rabbit, is now a big bunny and he is not afraid of anything any more because he’s a big bunny.
However, when the lights go out and his underwear starts glowing in the dark, and even when he tries everything to get rid of them, they just keep coming back! So creepy.
In the end, he decides that because he’s still just a little afraid of the dark, he goes out and buys more pairs of this creepy underwear with his allowance, and then he strings them up as nightlights.
This is a great book to talk about how your students might feel super grown up in some ways, but in other ways, they might still be a little afraid of some big-kid things. It’s hilarious, and I think your kids are going to love it!
This is such a cool book because it appeals to the power of children’s’ imaginations...
How many kids have imagined what it would be like to go out in the middle of the night into their back yards to explore using flashlights?
Well, when the three kids in this book decide to do that, the light from their flashlights shines light into another world.
The children experience a number of super cool adventures and become the heroes of their own stories as they encounter a terrifying tiger, a spooky forest, pirates, and Egyptian tombs.
Because they’re so brave, they manage to escape them all, only to return to their treehouse to read the books that inspired their imaginations.
I think this is such a great book for Halloween, because it embodies the fun and spookiness of Halloween without the traditional zombie characters and blood and gore.
This is an oldie but a goodie!
And by the way, this story is also available on Audible for only $2.39, which you can check out by clicking here.
This is a great Halloween read-aloud about a little old lady who is, of course, not afraid of anything, even though she’s followed home by some pretty spooky clothes that have come to life.
Although it isn’t incredibly creative, I love that this book teaches kids not to be afraid of anything, even when things do appear scary on the surface.
I think what makes this book special is its' invitation to choose to be brave.
When kids are faced with other situations in life, like when they are experiencing testing or anxiety or are around anything in their lives that might seem scary at first, they can choose to feel the fear but go for it anyways, just like this brave little old lady.
Now, I just had to include at least one joke book, and here’s why – KIDS LOVE THEM! I used joke books a LOT in my classroom, and during the Halloween season, my students’ morning work would feature a spooky joke every morning. :-)
So for example, I would write the first half of the riddle, like, “How does a monster like his coffee?” and the kids would print that in their Morning Warm-Up books, and then we would answer it and record the answer together: “With scream and sugar!” Ha ha!
My students LOVED this because they had all sorts of great Halloween jokes to share with their friends at recess, and it allowed us to start our day involved in fun and meaningful writing every day for a couple of weeks in October.
You can get your copy of my Halloween Morning Warm-Up Joke Book on my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Your kiddos are going to love this!
I just had to include this book because I wanted to expose you to this series, including titles like:
How to Catch a Unicorn
How to Catch a Leprechaun and How to Catch an Elf are New York Times Best sellers, so they’re definitely popular!
How to Catch a Monster is about a young boy who decides that he needs to meet and catch the monster that’s in his closet. In the end, our hero learns that sometimes things aren’t quite as scary as they seem. It’s pretty cute.
And once you read this book, you’ll know why – it’s hilarious and adorable.
Your kids are going to laugh their heads off with this one – Bunnicula is a children’s book series that features a vampire rabbit who sucks the juice out of vegetables.
This book series actually inspired an entire TV series about a bunny who’s a vegetable vampire, so this book would go along really well with any health-focused missions your school might have to keep kids healthy and to inspire them to eat more vegetables – kind of the opposite of the traditional candy-focused holiday that Halloween usually is, so it’s refreshing.
You can watch the TV series inspired by these books on Amazon Prime, but it isn’t free. Click here to check it out now!
If you loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as much as I did, then you will probably also love The Witches by the same author!
This is not a picture book, and it is the only book on this list that I would categorize as being “scary” in the more traditional sense of the word, and I only included it because I absolutely love this author.
However, depending on your school’s policy about what kinds of books are all right to read with kids, I think it would work really well as a read-aloud as your kids come in after lunch in 3rd grade or older, and many 3rd grade kids could read this book independently.
As one reviewer on Amazon said of this story:
The Witches" is a frightening, yet thrilling read for children. Dahl is a masterful storyteller and in "The Witches" he has weaved imagination, fear and courage into a fantastically fun story that has stood the test of time and remains refreshingly relevant for each generation.
In this fantastic Anniversary Edition of the story, "What was I Scared of?" they added glow in the dark ink and created the PERFECT read-aloud for the Halloween season when you have a black light!
This book actually inspired the Halloween Haunted House literacy project that I’m going to share with you in a minute.
In “What was I Scared of?” the main character is terrified by a pair of green pants that he keeps meeting up with – until he realizes that the pair of pants is probably just as scared of him as he has been of the pants all along.
Your kids are going to love it!
Now, because I love Halloween so much, I just HAD to create a super-fun Glow in the Dark, Halloween Haunted House literacy project to accompany my favorite books.
I’ve also created a couple of other fun Halloween products, including my Halloween Morning Warm-Up Joke Book, and if you’re looking for a creative way to motivate your students in October, I’ve also created a super cute Halloween Edition Classroom Management Mystery Motivator that you just have to check out!
Or - get them all for a discounted price! Your kiddos are going to LOVE this. 🎃
Just click the image below to get your copy now:
I hope you’ll tune in next week because we are going to be talking about some great books and projects to help teach students gratitude for Thanksgiving!
Canada celebrates Thanksgiving in mid-October, so if you’re in the U.S., that episode might feel a little early for you, but teachers in Canada are probably already well into Thanksgiving themed-activities.
Until then, I hope you have a wonderful week, and remember, just because you are a beginning elementary teacher, there is no need for you to struggle like one!
Dr. Lori Friesen | Beginning Teacher Mentor
Creator of the R.E.A.D.Y. for School Academy, Dr. Lori Friesen has mentored thousands of beginning teachers across the country through her workshops and courses. Host of the popular podcast, Beginning Teacher Talk, and creator of the innovative literacy program for 1st and 2nd grade, Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed, Dr. Lori is dedicated to serving educators and inspiring learners. Learn more at drlorifriesen.com and at howdogshelpkids.com.
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