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Best Children’s Halloween Books

By Melissa Summers

We love books around here and, what’s this? October is National Book Month. I just don’t believe how conveniently these holidays spring up for me.

We’ve talked about costumes, taking great care to avoid overpriced store-bought costumes, we’ve talked about easy (and cheap) projects and treats you can make with your kids to celebrate Halloween and finally we discussed various treats you can buy including a $100 frankenstein costume which has personally offended all my beliefs.

MommySendak.jpgNow I thought to finish out the Halloween theme, we’d look at a few of our favorite monster books. My daughter brought home “Mommy?” by Maurice Sendak and Arthur Yorinks, from the library and I’ve since gone in search of it for purchase. The story is reminiscent of another favorite, ‘Are You My Mother?‘ by Dr Seuss P.D. Eastman, only with various monsters. The little boy in the story (who looks remarkably familiar) searches for his mommy facing Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and a mummy until he finally finds his (surprising) mommy. The illustrations have, as Max said, “Lots of details so it’s fun to look at” (it amuses me when my son comes home speaking exactly like his kindergarten teacher) and pop-ups by Matthew Reinhart, whose Shark book Mrs. Kennedy reviewed for Alpha Mom.

Leonardo.jpgLeonardo the Terrible Monster is a book we’ve had in our monster book collection for a while. Leonardo is supposed to be a scary monster, but he’s really terrible at being scary. So instead he decides to stop trying to be a scary monster and be a friend instead. When my daughter read this book I asked her what lesson this story is trying to tell. Being literal she said, “It’s better to be nice than to be scary.” Which is true, maybe, but I know a lot of very scary people who have made a decent living being scary. I suggested maybe the lesson of the story is not trying to be something you’re not but embracing who you are. Madison replied by patting my thigh and saying, “Well, that’s a neat idea.” (Remind me to turn down the sarcasm.)
When I saw ‘Thelonius Monster’s Sky-High Fly-Pie‘ by Judy Sierra I knew we’d need to have this book. When choosing names for our unborn child during my first pregnancy, my husband liked to browse the baby name books and if a name made him snicker, he’d write it down. He could not understand why his snickering made me immediately skeptical of any name he suggested. Thelonius was a name written on his ‘snicker’ list and also a name I could never give a child. But a storybook monster? Perfect. Written in rhyme to the tune of ‘I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly’, Thelonius Monster attempts to make a pie filled with hundreds and thousands of flies packed inside a sticky pie crust. He invites his monster friends to share his dessert but the flies aren’t going out like that. The black, white and green cross-hatched illustrations by the New Yorker’s Edward Koren are different than the usual colorful pictures in children’s books but the rhymes draw my kids in.

Grover.jpgGrover has always been my favorite Sesame Street monster. Sure Elmo is cute and has a little more humility and a cute laugh, but Grover is comically in love with himself, (‘I huggable, loveable, furry old Grover’) and I find that more enjoyable. “The Monster At The End Of This Book” was among my favorite childhood stories, even when it was just a Little Golden Book. We bought the board book version when my daughter was born almost eight years ago and we’re still reading it. I like reading it because the voices are funny, Grover’s exasperation is amusing to convey to my son. I also love how much my son seems to enjoy being smarter than Grover. Each time we turn a page and there’s no scary monster, Max says, exasperated, “Grover….” Now the story comes as a pop up which can only make the experience more enjoyable. I know pop up books are not safe around Toddlers, so don’t forget the board book version.

The Bank Street Bookstore’s website is a great resource for someone like me, who gets overwhelmed by too many choices, too many buttons and too many things to distract me from my purpose. If you’re looking for great children’s books and aren’t exactly sure where to start, you have to browse the Bank Street website’s sidebar where easy to navigate categories lead you to the best books for kids. All without luring you to browse shoes or a new toaster. Not that I ever do that.

Explore Halloween costumes, crafts, decorations and treats from our archives here.


Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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  • Isabel Kallman

    I heart Grover, too. He was always my favorite.

  • Courtney

    If you haven’t found a good place to buy it yet – I picked up Sendak’s “Mommy” at my local Costco for a *great* price.

  • Meg

    The Grover book was a favorite of mine growing up! I recently bought it on e-bay for posterity sake. Happy to see its promotion – it’s a great book!

  • Great book list – I have to check out the Maurice Sendak and the Thelonius books, haven’t read either of us. We also love Monsters by Russell Hoban with illustrations by Quentin Blake – the pictures are phenomenal and the story is fun and a little bit scary, with a good ending for discussing with your kids.

  • Imanitsud

    My mother-in-law saved one of her kids’ favorites: “LaMont the Lonely Monster.” It’s a big hit with my kids. Our other favorites around Halloween are “The Brave Little Monster” about a monster child who is scared of children and won’t go to sleep…and for the classic, we enjoy “Courdoroy’s Halloween Party.” I’ll definitely look for the Mommy book at Costco! Thanks for the tip.

  • Leonardo is a new classic in our home. Love it.

  • Belle

    “Are You My Mother” is actually by P.D. Eastman. And is Eastman a he or a she? I kinda hope a she.
    I had never heard of “Mommy?” before but I’m going to go get it now…thanks!

  • kimmellee

    If you liked those books you’d probably like Jackie French Koller’s “No Such Thing” book.
    Here’s the link to Amazon: