Favorite Monster Books for Halloween
October is National Book Month, and it happens to coincide with Halloween, which is one of my favorite holidays. It’s like the universe is begging me to write about my favorite Halloween kids books. I think I can manage that.
My go-to online source for kids books is Bank Street Bookstore — their 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 children’s books and aren’t exactly sure where to start, Bank Street’s easy-to-navigate categories will lead you to the best books for kids. All without luring you to buy a pair of shoes or a new toaster. Not that I ever do that.
Here are my four favorite monster books — they are a good starter for your Halloween library, and none will lead to sleepless nights for your kids.
Not-So-Scary Kids Books
My daughter brought home “Mommy?” 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, P. D. Eastman’s “Are You My Mother?” only with various monsters. The little boy in the story (who looks remarkably familiar) meets Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and a mummy as he searches for his (surprising) mommy. My son told me that the illustrations have “lots of details, so it’s fun to look at” (it amuses me when he comes home speaking exactly like his kindergarten teacher) and pop-ups by Matthew Reinhart, who partnered with Robert Sabuda on “Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters.”
“Leonardo the Terrible Monster” is a book we’ve had in our 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.)
Grover 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 a copy when my daughter was born almost eight years ago and we’re still enjoying it. I like reading it to the kids because the voices are funny. 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 makes the experience even more fun for older kids. And for toddlers, there’s the the classic board book version.
When I saw “Thelonius Monster’s Sky-High Fly-Pie” by Judy Sierra, I knew we had to have this book. 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 immediately drew my kids in.
What are your kids favorite monster books?
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