Reading is a fantastic way to educate children about the world, introduce them to different topics and even teach them morals and valuable life lessons. In fact, research by Kiddi Caru day nursery providers has discovered that 99% of parents still read to their children from physical books, with 75% doing so every day.
With Halloween just around the corner, why not expand your toddler’s reading collection with some spooky stories?
Although Halloween can be a frightening time for some little ones, reading age appropriate stories can help them realise there’s nothing to be scared of and help them enjoy Halloween with the rest. So, here are seven “spooktacular” stories you should introduce to your little one this Halloween.
1. Room on the Broom, Julia Donaldson
Written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Alex Schieffer – the famous duo who created the award-winning story The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom follows a kind witch and cat who happily fly around during the night on her broomstick. However, one day a storm blows the witches’ hat and wand away. Thankfully, they are retrieved by a dog, a bird and a frog, who are all desperate to ride on the broom.
To show her gratitude, the witch offers to take them for a ride, but the broomstick breaks in two due to the extra carry weight. With a hungry dragon out looking for a snack, the witch and her animal pals have to think fast and plan how they’re going to get home without being eaten.
Working together as a team, the cat, dog, frog and bird cover themselves in mud and turn into a terrifying four headed monster; saving the witch from the dragon who flees in terror. The witch then celebrates their victory by creating a new broomstick – with plenty of room for everyone!
Packed with humour and witty characters, Sheieffer’s iconic artwork combined with Donaldson’s repetition and rhyming style makes this a great book to read aloud. It’s also helpful for little ones who are frightened by Halloween as the story signifies exactly what Halloween should be about – making friends and having fun!
2. The Hallo-Weiner, Dav Pilkey
A classic for more than 20 years, The Hallo-Wiener centres around one of the best parts of Halloween – trick-or-treating.
The story tells the tale of Oscar the Dachshund, who is (as you’d expect), shaped like a sausage. When Halloween arrives, Oscar cannot wait to get a costume. After he arrives home from obedience school, Oscar’s mother has a surprise for him – a hot dog bun Halloween costume. However, as the other dogs have been making fun of his wiener-shaped body, Oscar’s worried the costume will only make matters worse.
Not wanting to hurt his mother’s feelings, Oscar wears the costume, but when the other dogs see it, they howl with laughter. And with Oscar’s heavy costume slowing him down, there are no treats left for him, the other dogs have nabbed them all!
When the greedy dogs arrive at the graveyard, they are confronted by a loud, scary monster and dive into the river to escape. However, Oscar notices something strange with the monster. He bites the cover off the monster and discovers two cats hiding underneath, who run away. Oscar then jumps into the river and uses his costume as a life raft to rescue the other dogs. They thank Oscar by sharing their treats and become friends forever, hailing Oscar as the “Hero Sandwich”.
Complete with quirky illustrations and plenty of humour, Hallo-Weiner is a great story to get little ones excited about trick-or-treating and planning their costume. Mostly importantly, the story shares some great morals around bullying and being kind to others. It also promotes a great message about self-belief and appreciating yourself for being different.
3. The Spooky Wheels on the Bus, Elizabeth Mills
Most little ones know and love the ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ nursery rhyme. Even if they’re too young to coherently sing along, the rhyme’s accompanying movements and catchy tune can significantly help develop fine motor skills and creative language. So, what could possibly be better than a Halloween version?
The Spooky Wheels on the Bus encourages toddlers to count from one spooky bus up to ten goofy ghosts as the bus races through town picking up passengers along the way. For example, “Three noisy cats go MEOW, HISS, HISS, MEOW, HISS, HISS. MEOW, HISS, HISS. Three noisy cats go MEOW, HISS, HISS, All through the town.” It’s a great one to enjoy with little ones before you head out trick-or-treating and could even be used as an activity at a Halloween party!
4. Mouse’s First Halloween, Lauren Thompson
A very sweet and gentle take on the spooky season, Mouse’s First Halloween is, to state the obvious, about a mouse who is facing his first Halloween. The story follows the mouse as he tries to overcome his fears of anything Halloween-related, including jack-o-lanterns, falling leaves and trick-or-treaters. Eventually, the mouse realises there’s no need to be frightened of Halloween after all and celebrates the occasion with everyone else.
Predominantly a picture book, Bucket Erdogan’s illustrations have less scary interpretations of Halloween, with smiling bats and pumpkins to help little ones who might find the occasion frightening. Of what writing there is, it features some great sounds to describe what’s going on in the story, for example:
“One spooky night in the fall, Mouse creeps out and hears bats flying
Flit! Flit! Flit!
and apples dropping
Plop! Plop! Plop!
and children singing
“TRICK OR TREAT!”
Encourage your child to act these sounds out so they can fully immerse themselves in this wonderful story.
5. The Night Before Halloween, Natasha Wing
Recognised as a parody of the famous 19th century poem ‘The Night Before Christmas’, the Night Before Halloween is set in a house belonging to Count Dracula, the Bride of Frankenstein, witches, ghouls, spiders, mummies and more. Everyone is working together to decorate the house for Halloween, ready for trick-or-treaters.
On the day of Halloween, the town’s children go around trick-or-treating in their costumes, when one girl points to a house (belonging to the ghouls and monsters) on top of the hill they haven’t visited yet. With a strange feeling they knock at the door the children are greeted by a witch with a green face. Realising she’s a real with and not someone in a costume, the children flee in terror.
This leaves the little monsters who occupy the house upset, as they simply wanted to play with the children. However, the green witch consoles the little monsters and lets them have their own Halloween party. The ghostly and monstrous inhabitants of the house go outside and dance by the light of the moon.
Written in rhyme, The Night Before Christmas is a very captivating and easy read for toddlers; example: “Mummies unravelled and put on new wraps. Spiders found corners and spun silky traps”. The child-friendly drawings will also help little ones overcome fears of monsters and ghouls.
6. Even Monsters Need Haircuts, Matthew McElligott
Brilliantly funny, Even Monsters Need Haircuts centres around a little boy who’s aspiring to become a barber just like his father, so much so that he opens up the shop once a month by himself. His customers come in all shapes and sizes, but they do have one thing in common – they’re monsters! After all, even monsters need haircuts. These aren’t the scary kind of monsters though. They behave just like humans during haircuts – chatting with friends and reading the paper.
McElligott takes the “scary” out of Halloween-related monsters to help little ones relate to them. The story also teaches little ones to not judge a person based on appearance or assumptions. Filled with hilarious illustrations, such as the little boy styling Medusa’s hair blindfolded and silly product names including “putrefying cream”, this book is certainly one for toddlers who enjoy reading simple yet funny stories.
7. Five Little Pumpkins, Dan Yaccarino
Based on the well-known nursery rhyme, Dan Yaccarino’s Five Little Pumpkins is a Halloween must for the very youngest of readers. Featuring easy-to-read, minimal text, the story follows five pumpkins getting into the Halloween spirit with their friends.
Little ones will love chanting the rhymes aloud and mimicking the suggested hand actions, such as:
Five Little Pumpkins sitting on a gate.
The first one said, “Oh my, it’s getting late!”
The bold and sweet illustrations bring the pumpkins to life and will keep little readers enthused as they turn the pages. They are also sure to laugh as the pumpkins get up to their mischief!
With story time alive and well, Halloween is a great time for your little one to explore new stories, featuring fantastic characters and brilliant life morals. Let us know if you have any more Halloween themed books that your child loves!
Image Credits: PPD