Little Bookclub: Halloween

It’s a bit hard to escape Halloween these days. It’s not usually something I celebrate – I don’t think I’ve ever been trick or treating in my life! – but I’m noticing a lot of Halloween-themed activities these year, both online and in the real world. It’s obviously becoming a more prominent festival in the UK than it was when I was a child, so I decided that I would introduce it in a very gentle way with ToddlerGirl this year. As well as planning some Halloween play ideas, I thought we’d make it the theme of this month’s Little Bookclub.

Little Bookclub - Halloween

Of course, I don’t want to focus on the spooky scary side at this stage, so I’ve found a small selection of toddler-appropriate books for us to read together.

Room on the Broom, Julia Donaldson

This is an old favourite of ours and absolutely wonderful at any time of the year. As the story is all about a witch but is very low on the scary factor, it is perfect for toddlers as a Halloween read. The witch keeps dropping items of clothing from her broom. As she hunts for these, she meets some new friends who help her to find her things and then end up joining her on the broom. They then save her from a hungry dragon (the only point that may be a bit scary) and the witch magics up a magnificent new broom so they can all continue to travel together. The rhythm and repetition through the text make this a lot of fun to read aloud. This is coupled with lovely, expressive illustrations in Axel Scheffler’s distinctive style. ToddlerGirl really enjoys reading this and we have this on both CD and DVD, so we can also listen to the story and watch the film!

Meg and Mog, Helen Nicoll

Another witch and her cat… I remember the Meg and Mog books from my own childhood, so when I saw this at our local shop, I quickly pounced on it. The stories all centre around Meg, the witch, and her cat as they have various adventures. This first one is about their Halloween, when Meg accidentally turns her witchy friends into frogs! There is a lovely humour in the text; for example, when Meg makes breakfast for herself, Mog and their owl which consists of all sorts of yucky, non breakfast items. ToddlerGirl is just able to understand that that is funny as it’s not what we would have for breakfast. It’s a very simple story but good fun – and a great, gentle Halloween read.

The Tickle Ghost, David Mckee 

This was a lucky find at our library. I personally have not been bowled over by either the illustrations or the text but ToddlerGirl really enjoys it, so it has definite toddler appeal. I do like the concept, though. A little boy is upstairs getting ready for bed when a ghost creeps into his room. But there is nothing remotely scary about this ghost as it’s his dad dressed in a sheet and all it does is tickle! It’s a very sweet idea and a great way to turn something potentially scary for little ones into something funny. We went to one Halloween event this week that involved doing impressions of ghosts. ToddlerGirl wasn’t sure about it until I whispered to her that it was like the tickle ghost in her book. This immediately helped her, so the book gets a big thumbs up from me as a useful tool for dealing with toddler fears.

Pip and Posy: The Scary Monster, Axel Scheffler

We love all the Pip and Posy books we’ve come across so far. The books are simple yet very engaging, focusing on the friendship between Pip and Posy and the games that they play. Written and illustrated by Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo), I’ve found that each story has a sweet message at its heart. The Scary Monster is no different: Posy is at home on a rainy day, having fun baking. When there is a knock at the door, she is scared as it looks like a monster is there. It turns out to be Pip in fancy dress and the two take turns to dress up as the monster and play together. I like the fact that the book gives me a platform to talk to ToddlerGirl about being scared and explain that it’s normal to feel a bit frightened sometimes – and also that the book shows that things like scary monsters can (usually) be explained away. When we get to the part where the monster knocks on the door, ToddlerGirl reassures Posy “Don’t worry, it’s only Pip”, which is very sweet!

Shark in the Dark, Nick Sharratt

Oh, this book is so much fun. Timothy Pope has a telescope which he uses to look for things but he keeps on mistaking objects for a shark. The pages have cut out holes to reveal the parts of the objects he can see that look like shark fins. When you turn the page, however, you realise that it was something completely innocuous, such as the sail of a yacht. The images are bold, the rhyming text simple, the humour easy enough even for a two year old to understand. It’s brilliant for reading aloud and for encouraging participation – ToddlerGirl is even quoting parts of it now! Beyond the fun parts of the book, there is also a good message that things we are worried about are not always as they seem, which any child (or parent) who’s ever looked at a dark shape in their room at night and imagined it’s all sorts of scary things can relate to! The book is a follow up to Shark in the Park, which is very similar and equally as fabulous. This is a firm favourite of ours and on the Library Books I Would Like To Own list.

So that’s our non-scary Halloween reading list for Little Bookclub this month. Have you read any of the books? Or do you recommend any other Halloween-themed books that are suitable for younger toddlers?

(Our Little Bookclub activity for the month focused on Room on the Broom and Meg and Mog. We enjoyed some witch themed games, mixing up potions in our witch’s kitchen, making a witch’s brew sensory bottle and more. Read all about what we got up to in the post Witchy Wednesday here!)

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