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Halloween Books for Teaching Reading

Guest Author - Heidi Shelton Jenck

Halloween picture books offer many opportunities for learning. Reading concepts can be taught and reviewed before, during, and after reading stories with spooky themes.

Consonant digraphs and blends are two or more consonants blended together to form a single sound. Halloween words with consonant digraphs are often found in spooky stories: witch, fright, and ghost.

Vowel digraphs are everywhere in Halloween stories. Take advantage of the opportunity to review this concept using spooky words: afraid, blood, boo, broomstick, cloak, creepy, eerie, fear, gruesome, hayride, headstone, moon, scarecrow, scream, shadow, sweets, treats.

Rhyming opportunities abound in Halloween stories. After reading a picture book, choose words such as cat, broom, ghost, candy, or night, and ask your students to find rhyming words. The class can then create silly stories by replacing rhyming words in the story.

Homophones are words that sound the same but are spelled differently. Witch and which are great examples to highlight while reading aloud.

Punctuation matters when reading. Halloween is a great time to practice reading sentences with exclamation marks. Choose stories with a variety of punctuation marks, and demonstrate how punctuation marks work by reading the sentences correctly, then rereading with different punctuation marks. Students quickly hear the difference in meaning between BOO! and boo.

Syllables Halloween stories offer an opportunity to count syllables in high-interest words: Halloween, skeleton, haunted, ghost, costume, party, pumpkin, spider, monster, jack-o’-lantern, costume, masquerade, trick-or-treat.

Character descriptions are fun to teach and discuss after reading Halloween stories. Compare and contrast kind and scary witches, ghosts, and monsters using a variety of adjectives.

Halloween settings in picture books are also vivid and full of opportunities for using descriptive words. After describing settings in picture books, students can use their imagination to create their own Halloween settings.

Here is a list of Halloween picture books you can use in your classroom:

  • Miss Smith and the Haunted Library, by Michael Garland (Puffin; Reprint edition, August 16, 2012)

  • One Halloween Night, by Mark Teague (Scholastic Paperbacks, August 1, 2005)

  • The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, by Linda D. Williams (HarperCollins, September 7, 1988)

  • The Teeny Tiny Woman, by Jane O’Connor (Random House Books for Young Readers, September 12, 1986)

  • Skeleton Hiccups, by Margery Cuyler (Margaret K. McElderry Books, August 9, 2005)

  • The Night Before Halloween, by Natasha Wing (Grosset & Dunlap, August 16, 1999)

  • Ghosts in the House!, by Kazuno Kohara (Roaring Brook Press, August 19, 2008)

  • Disney's Haunted Mansion: Pop-Up Book, by Chuck Murphy, Russell Spina Jr., Walt Disney Productions, Russell Spina, Tor Lokvig, and Jose R. Seminario (Disney, August, 1994)

  • The Hallo-wiener, by Dav Pilkey (Scholastic Paperbacks, September 1, 1999)

  • Ten Timid Ghosts, by Jennifer Barrett O’Connell (Cartwheel, September 1, 2000)

  • Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson (Puffin, August 25, 2003)

  • The Vanishing Pumpkin, by Tony Johnston (Puffin, August 22, 1996)

  • Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody, by Michael Rex (Putnam, August 14, 2008)

  • The Teeny Tiny Ghost, by Kay Winters (HarperCollins, August 25, 1999)

  • Scary, Scary Halloween, by Eve Bunting (Sandpiper, September 19, 1988)

  • Big Pumpkin, by Erica Silverman (Aladdin, September 1, 1995)

  • Arthur's Halloween: An Arthur Adventure, by Marc Brown (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, September 30, 1983)

  • Five Little Pumpkins, by Dan Yaccarino (HarperFestival, August 7, 1998)

  • It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, by Charles M. Schulz (Little Simon, September 1, 2001)

  • Zen Ghosts, by Jon J. Muth (Scholastic Press, September 1, 2010)

I love using poetry to teach reading concepts. Here are two wonderful collections of Halloween poetry. Look for them at your local library, or click on the book image below for more information at Amazon.com.

Halloween (Published by Prime Books, September 13, 2011)

A Halloween Reader: Poems, Stories, and Plays from Halloween Past, Edited by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne is an anthology for history buffs of poems from the 16th to the early 20th centuries. (Pelican Publishing, September 30, 2004)

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Content copyright © 2015 by Heidi Shelton Jenck. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Heidi Shelton Jenck. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Connie Mistler Davidson for details.


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