When we think of Halloween (can it really be coming up so soon?), we think of cute pink cheeks and button noses peeking out of lion or monkey costumes; of gauzy princess and sturdy fireman outfits; of carving pumpkins; of all the candy that is about to flood our homes and how best to hide some of it so that our precious monkeys do not get completely wild with the sugar. We think it's going to be so sweet and fun and a little crazy, and it is!
So what are we forgetting? Oh yes, that when our little ones come face to face all those jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, skeletons, witches, bats and black cats on every doorstep, they might actually be terrified. And if we try to see flickering pumpkin grimaces through their wide eyes, fear seems like a perfectly sensible response.
So, for the sake of a truly Happy Halloween, be sure to prepare your preschoolers (and their overactive imaginations) ahead of time for all of the strange sights they are sure to see on the evening of October 31st. A few of our favorite non-scary Halloween books should do the trick -- and they're a real treat too!
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
In case anyone thought that witches were scary, here's one who will soon be dear to your kids' hearts, warts and all. She's a bit clumsy. She's apt to drop and lose her favorite belongings (sound familiar?). She also an animal lover—how could a preschooler not like her? But here's the question: is there room on her broom for a cat, dog, bird and frog? Enjoy these rollicking rhymes and find out that witches are not scary in the least, but red dragons on the other hand....
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams
We like this book for taking the fearfulness of Halloween head on -- pumpkin-head on, no less. A little old lady walking through the fall woods is haunted by a pair of boots (CLOMP, CLOMP), a shirt (SHAKE, SHAKE), other articles of clothing, and a talking pumpkin (BOO, BOO!). Is she afraid? No. Does she pick up her pace, nevertheless? Well, yes. In the end, she summons all her courage (just as our little ones may have to do on Halloween night), and puts the haunted clothes and jack-o'-lantern in their place. It's a wonderful read-aloud book with enough repetition, funny sounds, and suspense to make it a Halloween favorite.
Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper
Here's a lovely book about the joys and trials of friendship, and a great idea for a Halloween activity all wrapped into one. A cat, duck, and squirrel live together in a cabin in the woods, and spend their days making the best pumpkin soup you ever tasted. It's an idyllic little world until the trouble-making duck decides that he wants a turn stirring the soup. Serious squabbling ensues, and the resolution is sure to fascinate preschoolers who deal with their own playground spats on a regular basis. And the gorgeous illustrations are near guaranteed to inspire parents and children to chop up some pumpkins, stir them into boiling water, and add a pinch of salt. Mmmmm!
It's Halloween by Jack Prelutsky
This one is a much beloved classic (from 1977, no less), and our regular readers know just how much we love any and all of Mr. Prelutsky's poetry collections. There is magic here, and just the right amount of creepiness too. These wonderful rhymes (excellent for beginning readers, by the way) will spark imagination and trembling anticipation—just what Halloween is all about!
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The topic of Halloween candy is so sticky for parents that I address it in all of my books. Here's what I said in Your Child's Weight: Helping Without Harming Chapter 4, ''Help without harming with food selection.'' ''Treat candy the same way you do ... read more