Friendly Monsters

Eliza Clark
October 13, 2016

Monsters are everywhere these days. We already had our hands full with monsters in closets, under beds and sometimes roaming the playground. But now they've taken over the shop windows, set up camp in libraries and schools, and, along with their cousins the ghouls, witches and ghosts, can be found in all of the places that small children frequent. The closer we get to Halloween, the more monsters appear, and on that night they'll start walking around and saying "boo!"

How will our preschoolers handle it?

Some will indeed be scared, possibly terrified. Others will just want to be monsters and do the scaring themselves.

For both kinds of kids, a little lesson in monster psychology may be in order. The truth is that most monsters as not as mean and scary as they first appear. On the contrary, as the books below show so well, a monster may be more scared of you than you are of him. Get to know a monster, and that ugly fellow may turn out to be your best friend. 

So let's get to know some monsters together. By way of introduction, we've rounded up a few of the friendliest ones we know.

That's Not My Monster by Fiona Watt

Get to know monsters from the earliest age! This terrific board book allows little ones to touch, squeeze and pull on the faces of lots of different monsters until they find their very own monster. Well-made, and full of interesting textures and pictures, this book will make a monster-lover out of your toddlers in no time.

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

In case you didn't know, monsters have their troubles too. Take Leonardo. He's a monster all right, but he's just not scary. In fact, he's kinda cute. It's a problem. Leonardo decides to do something about it, and his idea is this: find the most "scaredy-cat kid" around and "scare the tuna salad out of him." He zeroes in on Sam, who does indeed burst into tears. But why is Sam really crying? It's the monster's turn to get to know the boy, and to realize that making a friend is more fun than scaring people.

There Are Monsters Everywhere by Mercer Mayer

Mercer Mayer is really good at drawing hideous monsters. He's also really good at helping kids take on fears that lurk in dark corners. We are big fans of his other books in this series like There's a Nightmare in My Closet and There's an Alligator Under My Bed. For the boy in this story, monsters are lurking around every corner, and only he can see them. What's a kid to do? Learn some karate moves, of course! And then quickly realize that big old ugly monsters scare pretty easily.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

We can't bring up monsters without mentioning Max and his Wild Things. Anyone needing a lesson in how to tame monsters (without and within) can find instructions here on "the trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once." And then, of course, there's a guide to partying with monsters. And even an example of how to say goodbye to monsters. In short, Max is the king of monsters and all wild things, and as such commands our eternal reverence.

The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone

Any child who doesn't believe that monsters can be friends needs a dose of Sesame Street right away. We know and love Cookie Monster and Oscar and Grover so well that we usually forget they are actually monsters. This delightful classic gives us Grover wrestling with his own fear of monsters. Don't turn the page, he begs, there's a monster at the end of this book! Just wait until you see who that monster really is—pretty cute, furry and blue, if you ask us.

From the Parents

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