Preschool Books: Monster Theme
Monster-themed children's books are in abundant supply, so why not add a preschool story hour featuring some of your favorite fluffy, slimy, but usually not-too-scary creatures. Monsters in this story time list include a double headed, three clawed, six toed, long horned Whatzit, some adorable Jim Henson-inspired critters from Sesame street, and even hideously frightening monster hiding under a young boy named Ethan's bed--but hold on, that one is on vacation!
A lesson plan using monsters as the main act can lead into a discussion about what we do when we are frightened, or could be incorporated into a unit about bedtime fears. And while you are at it, monsters can be a fun story choice for Halloween. One year when I was presenting story time at the library, we hosted a Halloween party that included making monster masks and freeze dancing to the Purple People Eater and Monster Mash songs.
Monster-Themed Children's Picture Books
- I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll and Howard McWilliam is a must-read silly book that explores the delicious thrill and terror caused by a monster under a kid named Ethan's bed. Ethan is used to his monster, and even though Ethan gets the heebie jeebies when he sees his monster's long spiky claws and furry tail sneaking out from under his bed, when his monster takes a vacation and sends in a replacement, things just aren't the same. This book is a little long for young preschoolers but can be the main story if you use some shorter ones, too.
- Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Edward R Emberley is one that is in the not-too scary category appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers. Famously enjoyed by preschoolers around the globe, this book has cutaway circles showing the monster's eyes. Each monster feature is added, page by page, then taken away until the monster dissapears again. The glittering, vivid colors make this toddler-friendly monster more cute than scary. If you are a storytime presenter or preschool teacher, Emberly has published several other titles in the series, including If You're a Monster and You Know It, which is based on the song If You're Happy and You Know It.
- Harry and the Terrible Whatzit by Dick Gackenbach. Any child who has ever gone down into the basement looking for his or her mother will relate to the worry Harry feels when his mother is nowhere to be found. Instead of finding his mother, he discovers a double-headed three clawed, six-toed, long-horned Whatzit, who apparently is in the habit of terrorizing all of the kids in the neighborhood. But when Harry stands up to the monster, whose attempts to frighten him fail miserably, suddenly the Whatzit starts to shrink. When the Whatzit is nearly ready to snuff out for good, Harry sends the poor monster over to Sheldon's house, because "he's afraid of everything." This story written during the 1970s is worth checking into. Read my full review and decide if you want to include it in your storytime presentation.
- My Monster Mama Loves Me So by Laura Leuck, Mark Buehner is an unabashedly cute story that takes a humorous approach to the mother-child bond.
- Mercer Mayer dominates the monster category with several popular oldies but goodies both written and illustrated by this author. First, There's a Nightmare in My Closet is a simply-worded bedtime story about a boy facing his worst fears. The pictures really tell the story in this book where the monster climbs into bed with his little boy. There's an Alligator Under My Bed has more text but is just as fun to read. While technically not a monster in its own right, the idea of an alligator under the bed puts this book in the same category, and would be fun paired up with nightmares in the closet. A whole fright night in the bedroom may be too much for easily spooked young toddlers, but these books are cute and silly.
- Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Click this title to read my review of this book. This well-loved all-time classic children's story is a fantastic journey in and out of years and over weeks into the land of the Wild Things, who must be tamed by the book's hero, who is a wild thing, himself, dreaming on his bed after an afternoon of mischief and play in his favorite wolf suit. Max is the wildest thing of all, and leads the big-headed monsters in a wild rumpus before returning home to his dinner.
- Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems. Leonardo is failing miserably at being scary. He isn't nearly as scary as the other monsters, and he needs to find a way to prove himself. So he hatches a plan to scare the tuna salad out of a scaredy cat kid, named Sam. But in the end, Leonardo discovers it is easier to be a friend than to be a monster! This one won an American Library Association Notable Book Award.
- The Monster at the End of this Book (Big Little Golden Book) by Jon Stone, Michael Smollin. Starring Sesame Street's "sweet loveable Grover," the monster at the end of this book isn't scary at all. In fact, the only person scared in this story is Grover himself. This story builds up anticipation, though, and is fun to read because the ending isn't going to distress anyone. This book is in the oldies but goodies category, and many 20 and 30-something parents will remember reading this with their parents, and may want to pass the tradition on to their own children.
- Preschool-friendly Monsters on Machines by Deb Lund and Robert Neubecker is about as boy-centric as they come. This story features four monsters, Melvina, Stubb, Gorbert, and Dugg who use their construction equipment to build a frightfully fine building, all before lunch time, when mama monster brings them monsteroni and cheese and reads them a story before they take a nap! After a day of building the monsters are done, with rhyming prose on every page, and funny illustrations that put the focus on construction equipment like a goober scooper and monster vater, this books is a lot of fun for little people who will want to pretend they are monsters too.
- Monster Mess! By Margery Cuyler is a new twist on the monster under my bed. This monster that looks like a cross between an iguana and a pill bug is all ready for a nap, but the huge mess in the boy's room makes getting comfortable difficult for the monster in this tale. The show-stealing illustrations by S.D. Schindler feature vivid contrasts, and make the monster in the story seem silly and not scary. The action words on every page make this one an especially good selection for reading aloud. Cuyler's writing in this story is pared down to essentials which makes this storybook stand out.
- What if your best friend were a monster and you never noticed? Jumpy Jack and Googily are two friends who help each other face their fears. Jumpy Jack is a snail who is extremely afraid of monsters, and so he asks his friend Googily to check all of the usual places where monsters hide. Apparently, Jumpy Jack never noticed that Googily is a monster himself. The situationaly humor in this story by Meg Rosoff and Sophie Blackall is hilarious, with some a fitting, oddball ending.
- Clyde Monster by Robert L. Crowe is also afraid of the dark. In this story, an adorable juvenile monster confesses to his understanding parents that he is frightened that PEOPLE might be hiding in his cave at bedtime. This cute turnabout on a child's usual bedtime fears may win over an anxious child who is afraid of the dark.
- Finally, worth a mention, Beware of the Frog by William Bee is a bizarre twist on the fairy tale format and may or may not be enjoyed by an older early-elementary crew. In this story, poor Mrs. Collywobbles is terrorized by the monsters who live in the forest. They all think she would make a delicious dinner. Little do they know that the unassuming-looking frog in front of her door is actually a monster-eating guard-frog who is very, very hungry. With retro-styled illustrations that borrow from a 1960s and 1970s commercial design motif, this story is a lot of fun to read to kindergarteners and up, but maybe not to younger preschoolers, who might be disturbed by the ending. Personally, I love this book and find the twisted humor hilarious, but be warned, it is not your typical storybook, so preview it first before sharing with a group.
This book is wildly and instantly popular with most young preschoolers. Some books just have the magic. This is one of them!
Add this title for participatory claw-clapping action. A great book for storytellers.
This story with a values-based theme is cute, funny, and heart-warming. And an excellent length for the 3-4 year old age group.
Early Childhood Links
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann ♦ Start a Home School Preschool Co-Op ♦ Using Music Education Techniques in Your Toddler/Preschool Storytime ♦ Start a Preschool Storytime Program/ Story Hour at Your Library ♦ Preschool Story Hour Ideas: Using Storytime Themes In a Sample Lesson ♦ Great Read-Aloud Children's Books with Reviews and Sample Lesson Plans ♦ Goldilocks And the Three Bears Preschool Creative Drama Activity ♦ Music Education Techniques to Use in Your Toddler/Preschool Story Hour
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