Preschool Books: Spider Theme
Spiders are the fascinating, fabulous, and well, sometimes scary critters that garner a lot of attention during the month preceding Halloween. Here is a list of recommended children's books featuring spiders or spider characters. Some are fiction, others are factual, but all will bring lots of pleasure to your preschool or kindergarten readers.
- This playful and visually amusing story about a little black spider that doesn't want to scare humans, but instead is seeking acceptance while trying to become the family pet is a great start to a spider-themed storytime. Aaaarrgghh! Spider! by British children's author Lydia Monks is this book. It is an unusual premise for a spider-themed story and a humorous way to face arachnophobia. This is one of those artful books that adults will enjoy rereading with children, and that will happen often if it is purchased for the home.
- A preschool unit about spiders would be incomplete without The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle. This story about a busy spider who is blown off the fence and must rebuild its web is full of visually stunning artwork and farm animal friends who want to play. But the very busy spider's industry is an important theme of the story, with a reward at the end. Carle's book blends the enjoyable elements of a fictional story with interesting-preschool level science information that will help inquisitive minds want to learn more about the interesting arachnids.
- Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin and Harry Bliss made a big splash when they first appeared on the scene about 5 years ago. These books are really written for first and second graders, but they make fascinating lap reading for more mature preschoolers. These books are filled with information and written and illustrated from a spider's eye view. The fictional aspects of this book allude to many parts of a young school-aged child's life, such as grandparents' day, disaster drills (think big shoes and vacuum cleaners), and trips to the playground. This book is a good bridge between science and language arts, and is filled with humor and attitude. Parent, teachers, AND kids will get a kick out of this light-hearted book filled with information and fun.
- Little Miss Spider by David Kirk is an illustrated children's picture book with ultra-saturated, eye-popping colors that simply glisten. David Kirk's stories featuring Miss Spider are entertaining, and this first one is just the beginning. The shorter length makes this a good selection for preschoolers. This is a story kids will sit still for, and I have personally used the titles from this series with success in a library storytime setting. I especially liked Little Miss Spider's ABCs.
- Itsy Bitsy Spider by Keith Chapman and Jack Tickle. The popular nursery rhyme the Itsy Bitsy Spider has been made into several children's picture books. One of the most popular versions is by Iza Trapani. This story adds new verses to a familiar tune, taking the itsy bitsy spider on adventures all over the house. Coming with a music cd, this book is a good opportunity for integrating music and motion in a story time or preschool circle time setting.
- Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti by Gerald McDermott. A tale of Anansi and his six spider sons from Ghana, west Africa. This book is recommended for its spare text, which is unusual for most folktale-inspired children's books. This makes the Ashanti story a good introduction to folktales for younger readers. The bold-graphic style artwork is eye-catching too, with strong contrasts with red and black. Ashanti offers a multicultural twist to the spider theme, giving students a chance to learn of world cultures and veer away from the Halloween theme somewhat. A Story, A Story by Gail E. Hailey is another Anansi tale, but this one is a Caldecott Award winner, and spells the spider trickster's name Ananse. This story is a different tale altogether than the first book. I recommend if you are doing a unit on Africa, or if you simply enjoy folktales, that you order both of these stories.
- Nic Bishop Spiders by Nic Bishop is an information-packed nonfiction book for early elementary-aged children with show-stealing macro photographs of spiders in all kinds of environments. Close-up color photos in this award-winning book create realistic creepiness. Not necessarily a story time readaloud, but if your purpose is to learn some science facts about spiders in addition to sharing some fiction stories, this book will grab the attention of young scientists or anyone who is not too squeamish to get up close and personal with arachnids.
- One Hungry Spider by Jeanne Baker is a counting book featuring a hungry orb spider spinning its web, and the animals it encounters along the way. Probably written with a four to five year old age group in mind, the rhyming text and a satisfying and surprising finish make this book a nice blend of counting, science, and social studies.
- A spider-themed book that has the ability to weave a spell over its audience is Dream Weaver, by Jonathan London. This author is probably best known for his series of hilarious Froggie books, but he is also adept at writing a picture book that has poetic nuances. Paired with the dramatic drawings of spiderwebs shimmering in the night, by Rocco Baviera, I highly recommend this picture book for lovely artwork and poetic prose. 10 fascinating facts about spiders written in boyish handwriting encourage kids to make their own observations about spiders and connect the fascinating facts to their own sense of scale at the end of this story.
- Be Nice to Spiders by Margaret Bloy Graham is a second and third-generation children's story published in the 1960s. This story about a boy who gives his spider to the zoo teaches children and adults that spiders serve a useful purpose in the world. Move over Charlotte's Web, this one has several ardent admirers.
A Few More Spider-Themed Children's Titles
- Are You a Spider? (Backyard Books) by Tudor Humphries
- Dance, Spider, Dance! by Robert Kraus