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Kids’ Spooky Books for Autumn
Young Kid Scary
Read-Aloud for Preschool and Early Elementary
The Berenstain Bears and The Spooky Old Tree
Read-aloud and beginning reader book appropriate for ages 6 months (yes) through 7 years (second grade in USA)
Written and illustrated by Stan Berenstain, Jan Berenstain
Hardback - 48 pages - ISBN 0394839102
Available formats: Hardcover, paperback, Kindle, possibly paperback with audio cassette.
Delightful. If I was limited to only one word descriptor, “delightful” is definitely it. This story touches the basic kid and human emotion of being scared of the dark and scared of the unknown without being really scary (or gruesome or inappropriate.) It invites the preschool child to cuddle into the side of the adult reader as you follow three Berenstain bear cubs exploring a big old tree. Often there is a single word per page – a directional word such as into, up, through, over, down, and out. Learning the meaning of these words is an extremely important task for preschoolers.
The child will soon be able to recite the words along with you following the picture cues and memorizing the order. Eventually, your child may learn to recognize the words as “sight” vocabulary. All this is excellent pre-reading and reading. Additionally, almost all adult readers can work up the proper whispery, anticipatory inflections to add to the drama of the tale. And, it has a happy ending.
Read-Aloud for Early Elementary Years, Read Independently for Middle Elementary
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
1990 Caldecott Honor Book,
1989 National Council for the Social Studies Notable Book,
1990 National Council of Teachers of English Notable Book,
1992 Colorado Children's Book Award,
1992 Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award
Read-aloud for about age 5 and older. Could be read independently around age 8 or higher (third grade in the USA)
Written by Eric Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
Hardcover - 32 pages - ISBN 0823407691
Available formats: Hardcover, paperback.
Do not dismiss this storybook,
if you are not Jewish, because it mentions a Jewish holiday. It is a wondrous, “gently spooky” story with illustrations so fantastic that it received a Caldecott honor. If you happen to be Christian, this book may be a nice way to introduce your children to the faith that God the Father selected for His Son to be born into. If you are none of the above, it is a way to introduce another culture, and time in history (Eastern European Jews at the beginning of the twentieth century.) A one-page explanation at the back deciphers the candles, games, history and foods of the holiday.
There are similarities between the plot of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins. In both, bad guys want to prevent a town from celebrating an early winter holiday. For families which celebrate Hanukkah, reading this story each year could easily become a tradition such as the Christian annual reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas.
Look above at all the awards it won. If you need further vetting or credentials, this story was first published in Cricket magazine – not an easy in.
Not Too Spooky
Hopefully, you will find that these two books have enough of the mystery of the cold dark autumn combined with a happy ending, that it meets your reading needs. You can further encourage your little one to dramatize the story by reciting dialogue or providing sound effects. These also can lend themselves to discussion of real versus pretend stories. Then, knowing that he or she lives with caring adults who will save them from anything that is really scary, your precious child will sleep well through the chilly autumn nights.
Top photo and text copyright 2011 Maren E. Morgan.