Halloween Books That Won’t Give Your Kids Nightmares

halloween books not scaryYou wouldn’t know it by meeting my son today but as a really little guy he was super sensitive to scary things. I wasn’t ever sure we’d make it to Disneyland because he was terrified of people in big costumes. Like most phases of childhood just as I started re-reading my child psychology texts from college looking for insight the phase worked itself out. Some children are simply more sensitive from day one, and some like my son go through phases where they are working things through. Either way they should be able to have great books about Halloween that won’t provoke nightmares. The list below are all books that neither of my children or any of my former students have found scary. I still think it’s well worth a quick browse before reading and you can always click the title link ( affiliate link that takes you to amazon) to see more opinions from other parents.

As stated all book lists include affiliate links.

halloween books that aren't scary

Clifford’s First Halloween (Clifford the Small Red Puppy) by Norman Birdwell is a Halloween book that my son adored it as a toddler, there were many days when I read it multiple times. . The story is about the big red dog’s very first Halloween as a puppy. Clifford and Emily Elizabeth find costumes, they trick or treat and try candy apples too. I think what my son related to was that like little Clifford, he was often too little for things, made messes all the time, and has bigger people step in and fix everything for him.  This book doesn’t jump at me as a must read but I can’t ignore how much my son loved this book, so I have included it in the list.

inside a house that is haunted

 

Inside a House That Is Haunted by Alyssa Satin Capucilli was the hands down favorite Halloween book for my 3 year old class in 2005. I must have read this 200 times and even after Christmas had come and gone it was still requested all the time. The story is a rebus read along, so it is repetitive and it builds upon itself. This is great for children who are eager to “read along” before they are able to read words. The repetitiveness allows them to anticipate what is next and feel included. Very cute even after reading it so many times.

Peek-a-Boooo!

Peek-a-Boooo! by Marie Torres Cimarusti is a perfect toddler Halloween book. The premise is simple, each page has a well known Halloween character including a witch, skeleton,  and Frankenstein all hiding behind their hands playing peek-a-boo with the readers. The characters hands are flaps and when you lift them they reveal the character’s face – which is always sweet and happy , never scary.  At the end of the book there are more flaps to lift to reveal trick or treaters and the same Halloween characters hiding in their haunted house. My son loves this book too and  I think it’s a great completely gentle way to read about Halloween with toddlers.

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There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat! by Lucille Colandro was a huge hit! It’s a reworking of the classic song ” There was an old lady who swallowed a fly” only this one swallows a whole bunch of Halloween creatures, like a goblin, ghost and of course a bat.  She continues to swallow bigger and bigger things much to my son’s amazement! He was giggling through the whole book and the end when the old lay belches he laughed hysterically. It was predictable but I have to admit was a really fun , silly read.

maisy's halloween

Maisy’s Halloween by Lucy Cousins is a cute board book for toddlers that follows Maisy’s search for the right Halloween costume. There is something about this little mouse that children just love. My daughter will reach for a Maisy book over just about any other if given a choice. The story is also a cute introduction about the fun we have dressing up for Halloween.

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Where Is Baby’s Pumpkin?by Karen Katz. Is a Halloween favorite at our house and has been for years. I don’t think the book has ever been really put away since buying it when my son was a toddler. Karen Katz’s lift the flap books are more than just cute , the flaps and different textures keep little hands busy and little bodies calm enough to sit for the whole book.

ghosts in the house

Ghosts in the House!  by Kazuno Kohara is on my must buy list! A little girl moves into house and soon finds out it is haunted. Luckily she is a witch and knows just what to do. The ghosts in the story seem mischievous but never scary and even when she washes them in the washing machine, they are still smiling! My son loved this book, the text was the perfect length for a 3 year old, short but still descriptive.  I loved the simple  black and orange colors and had to look at the copyright twice because I was certain this was written sometime in the 30s, nope 2008. The simplicity of the book and colors is balanced so well with the little details like the little girl’s constant companion , a white cat that puts on a black costume when the little witch pops on her hat. This detail had my son in stitches, “Cats don’t wear clothes , silly cat!” .  Absolutely a perfect Halloween book for children not yet ready to be scared for fun!

it's pumpkin day mouse

It’s Pumpkin Day, Mouse! (If You Give…) by Laura Numeroff is a Halloween themed book about emotions. Mouse is busy painting his pumpkins and paints different faces representing different emotions on each. This is a great little book that gives parents a wonderful opener to talk about different emotions when things are calm. There is one scary pumpkin but I doubt it will frighten any readers.

Halloween Day

Halloween Day by Anne Rockwell is another winner . I love this author because kids love her books, and the ones that she has collaborated with her daughter on are probably my favorites. Her daughter Lizzy is the illustrator and she won my son over with her cool pictures of costumes and Halloween décor , especially the little boy in the firefighter costume. The story is about a classroom celebrating Halloween but what I love is that it shows why each child chose to dress up in their individual costumes.  Huge hit at our house, perfect for the 2-5 crowd and not scary at all!

10 trick or treaters

10 Trick-or-Treaters by Janet Schulman is one of my favorite Halloween books and both my children love it. We read it leading up to and well after Halloween last year. The premise is simple, a group of trick or treaters are pegged off one by one as they are scared by some Halloween creature.  Readers count down from 10 – 0 and  enjoy the bright detailed illustrations as they do. I particularly like the cute costumes and the final page which has another countdown with candy – always fun to count candy right?

mouses first halloween

Mouse’s First Halloween by Lauren Thompson is a sweet and really well done book. The story follows a little mouse who is easily afraid of the many things on Halloween night , but one by one discovers that things like falling leaves, jack-o-lanterns and trick or treaters aren’t so scary after all. I love the repetition in this book and the illustrations by Bucket Erdogan epitomize the fall spookiness that Halloween nights are filled with. Thumbs up from my son and I .

creepy sleepy monsters

Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters by Jane Yolen is a sweet monster book with minimal text and very rich illustrations by Kelly Murphy.  The story is really about the daily wind down and bedtime for two monsters. You and your child will absolutely relate to them on one page or another ( or all). These little monsters are just like our little monsters resisting bedtime, trying to avoid baths… well you know the daily struggle. My daughter was not into the book but my son liked it even though I’d gear it towards the 2-4 crowd. We chose our favorite monsters on each page and found interesting details like the recipe for tentacle soup on the page where the mom is making dinner . Cute, your child will relate to it and it’s not at all scary!

 

21 Picture Book Biographies

picture book biographies When children read biographies it’s like they are walking into a new friend’s home. They get immersed in their life and never leave without learning something new. These picture book biographies are incredible tools to teach children about history, about innovation, and empathy.

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Picture Book Of Amelia Earhart

A Picture Book of Amelia Earhart (Picture Book Biography)by David A. Adler had both my 7 year old and I totally enthralled. This book does a great job at painting the picture of early 20th century North America and how women were treated. Amelia’s whole life is covered and the book even touches on the conspiracy theories about her death. I loved how much of Amelia’s independent spirit came through in the quotes that the author shared. My absolute favorite tidbit about Ms. Earhart is actually in the author’s note and is about her mother. Did you know her mother was the first woman to summit Pike’s Peak ? That fact opened up a huge conversation with my son about parental role models.

Helen Picture Book

A Picture Book of Helen Keller by David A. Adler tells the story of this great heroine in a simple way without losing the magnificence of her life. From her illness as a young toddler, to meeting her “miracle worker” Anne Sullivan and earning the first degree ever awarded to any deaf and blind person.  The author doesn’t sanctify Helen though , they talk openly about her tantrums as a child and her naughty behavior. My son ( when he was 3)  sat for this whole book, it opened up a bedtime talk about blindness to which we turned off the light and experienced a little ourselves I am hoping reading this book will open more doors of empathy for my son, to recognize that we are all different with different abilities but are all capable of great things

Picture Book Of Harriet Tubman

A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman (Picture Book Biography)by David A. Adler. Often when I am reviewing a book with my kids I will jot down notes. This book had only one note. ” Amazing!!!” I have always known the bare facts about Harriet Tubman and her involvement in The Underground Railroad but I loved being able to learn more at the same time as my son. Our eyes both got wide as we read her incredible story of strength and leadership. My son loved this book as well and I appreciate how the author gives details without getting lost in them. My son told me “She was crazy brave !” and I agree. This is a wonderful book about a real American hero.

manfish

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne is a interesting book even if you’ve never heard of Jacques Cousteau, which is a good thing because I don’t think many children would recognize his name. Heck maybe some of you younger adults don’t either! The book tells the story of how he brought together his love of the ocean and film together to share them both with the world. In the author’s note at the end of the book the most profound bit of the whole book is shared. She notes Cousteau’s familiar phrase ” Il faut aller voir.” which translates to ” You have to see if for yourself.” Which is exactly what he made possible for so many people. Lovely. The illustrations were magical and did such a wonderful job supporting the author as she tried to share Cousteau’s passion for his life’s work with readers.

wizard from the start

A Wizard from the Start: The Incredible Boyhood and Amazing Inventions of Thomas Edison by Don Brown is a gem. This biography isn’t flashy but it doesn’t have to be because Edison’s life was fascinating and the way the author decided to focus so much on his early years including his failures is brilliant. Children don’t relate to perfect adults, they relate to struggling kids. I learned a lot about Edison reading this book and it made me want to learn even more. There was action, conflict, failure, and of course great success. This book will leave you wishing you could have met him.

Georgia’s Bones by Jen Bryant won’t expose your child to much of the artists work but it will give your child a sense of who she was and what inspired her. The book focuses on how Georgia saw the world, the shapes and colors and views around her. It paints the artists as a quiet, thoughtful girl and a clam and pensive woman. It also takes readers to such different parts of the United States where Georgia found similar inspiration from such different environments. You may want to grab a map and find all the locations with your child after reading this.

George Washington’s Teeth by Deborah Chandra and Madeline Comora is a funny telling of how George Washington got those famous false teeth. What I like so much about this book and what my son did too is it also tells the story of the Revolutionary War. I think the brilliant thing about this book is it shows that George Washington wasn’t the super hero that he is often portrayed as. This makes him , his story and American history in general way more accessible to young kids. I can’t ignore the really fantastic tertiary lesson about dental hygiene as well.

my brother martin

My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Christine King Farris. Teaching preschoolers about history is tricky, but you can do it, you just have to break it down and give them bits they can relate to. This book does a fantastic job, while reading it I always have to hold in tears, it is just such a unique look at the childhood of a man who’s dreams changed the world. What I love about this book is that the majority of it is about his childhood and children can relate so much more easily to him as a child growing up then simply as this great man on the podium. Kids always love learning that he played pranks on people just like they like to do. The author explains prejudice and segregation in a straightforward and simple way so that children can understand and reflect on how it feels to be treated like that. The book doesn’t ignore the great accomplishments and wonderful man the little boy became but does a wonderful job making Dr. King into a hero your child can feel something in common with , and in return become more interested about.

Rosa

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni is not so much a biography, but it is most definitely a historical account of one woman who changed a nation. We all know the story of Rosa Parks but no matter how well you know the facts, reading a children’s book about it makes me cry. The author has done a fantastic job setting the stage, explaining how Rosa Parks was not your typical heroine, she was just a seamstress, just like everyone else. This is imperative to the message that a single person can stand up for what is right and make big changes. I also appreciated that the author included so much about the women who spearheaded the bus boycott. I am 37 and I feel inspired reading this as a woman, to think of the power it can have over the younger generation excites me. This would be a wonderful introduction to learning about the civil rights movement for kids 5-10.

Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan is a great book not only about Jackson Pollock but also about how an artist goes through the artistic process, their influences and what their life is like. This book is perfect for older children but my son( who was just under 3 at the time)  loved looking at pictures and Jackson Pollock’s dog. I would suggested this for anyone with budding artists!

wilma unlimited

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman by Kathryn Krull Do you know who Wilma Rudolph was? She was the African-American Olympian who became the first American woman ever to win three gold medals at one Olympic Games. But her story is even more amazing that that. She also suffered from Polio as a child and was told she’d never run. Her determination stands out and inspires. I have mentioned many times how my grandmother was an Olympic medalist so this story hits a personal chord for me. I am awed and amazed by how far women have come from their first Olympic games in 1928.

story of anne frank

The Story of Anne Frank by Brenda Ralph Lewis impressed me. I struggle with how to tell such a horrifying story to young children. I should explain that this book is not geared for preschoolers, it’s a school age book , but still it’s a daunting task. This book helps break down the facts while including details about this young girl’s personal and family life. This balance of historical facts and Anne’s family life is the key to why this book works. There is so much horror to digest that the little details like how Anne was a bit of a trouble maker, and talked too much in class helps to tune the reader back into the very personal story. I think this is a fantastic precursor to reading Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl , it will give all the needed background for your older child to fully comprehend and appreciate the diary itself.

manfish3

Different Like Coco by Elizabeth Matthews chronicles Coco Channel’s troubling and tragic childhood through to her hard earned success. I had mixed feelings about this book and my daughter was not terribly interested in the text. Many biographies written for children miss the mark at being interesting for children and instead just simplify the facts and add illustrations for the kids. Maybe if my daughter was older she’d be into this book but it failed to make me care about Coco. I wanted to connect and have my feisty four year old who has been dressing herself since she could voice an opinion love it too. But it was just OK. The message about being different being a good thing was clear but without feeling connected to Coco it didn’t pack as much punch as it could have.

nelson mandela

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson will take your breath away. The front cover portrait belongs in a museum, it captures the incredible dignity and strength of character of Nelson Mandela. The biography begins with a turning point, when Nelson is chosen to go to school and his name is changed from Rolihlahla to Nelson. The book’s text covers the main points of Nelson Mandela’s life from that moment until he is finally released from prison. The afterword covers his historic election and Presidency. Apartheid is explained through the text but Kadir Nelson’s incredible illustrations are at times better at telling the story than text could possibly be. I can not stress enough how stunning the illustrations in this book are. When I read books for review I take notes and my only note for this book was ” pictures will make you cry.” They will because they capture the injustice and triumph. Each page is a gift.

me-jane-cover

Me . . . Jane by Patrick McDonnell is a look at Jane Goodall as a child. Jane climbs trees with her stuffed chimp and dreams of observing animals and living in Africa. The book is simple and carries a clear message that childhood dreams do come true if you believe in them. The author notes complete the picture explaining that Jane didn’t just magically end up in Africa, that she studied and worked hard to become the authority she is today. Kids will connect with the little Jane and hopefully connect to big Jane’s tenacity and passion.

ella fitzgerald bio picture book

Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald by Roxane Orgill is definitely not a book for preschoolers. I learned a bunch about Ella Fitzgerald while reading this but it was way too long for my four year and honestly some of the events in her life were not things I was ready to share with my daughter yet. The book was perfect for my 7 year old though. Her life was hard and for a child to fully grasp her story I think they need to be mature enough to understand that good people make bad choices when they are trying to survive, and those individual choices don’t mean that the person as a whole is bad. I appreciate that the author included so many of the challenges Ella faced instead of glossing over them. It’s good for children to see how hard life can be for others and how that doesn’t mean that success can’t be attained.

susan b anthony

Susan B. Anthony: Fighter for Freedom and Equalilty (Biographies (Picture Window Books))by Suzanne Slade is a great introduction to Susan B. Anthony and why she is so much more than just a lady on coins. Although we often think of her as a suffragette she was also a champion of human rights and abolitionist. She fought for women’s right to vote knowing that she herself would never get the right. This book explains all that in terms kids can understand and relate to.

elizabeth leads the way

Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Voteby Tanya Lee Stone made me teary eyed. If you aren’t familiar with Elizabeth Cady Staton grab this book because not only will it catch you up on the life of this women’s rights activist, it will also let you feel her sense of justice and determination. I wrote down the quote ” …wasn’t interested in easy.” which was in reference to her father saying she should have been born a boy so she would fit in better, but is a great quote for anything and anyone.

Eleanor quiet no more

Eleanor: Quiet No More by Doreen Rappaport is an inspiring look at Elanor Roosevelt’s life and legacy. Readers learn about Eleanor’s childhood, being orphaned and sent away to school in England where she experienced independence for the first time. It covers her romance and marriage with FDR is a sweet, loving way that won’t make your child cringe about “mushy” things but they will understand that there was real life and partnership. There is ample information about her work over the years as a politician’s wife as well as the First Lady. My favorite part of the book were all the fantastic quotes woven into the biography, it connects the reader to her and not just her story.

Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane by Carol Boston Weatherford is a fascinating book for my son who discovered “Johnny Coltrane” on YouTube while asking me about saxophones a year ago. What I like about this book is that it allows young children to relate to someone so inaccessible, and untouchable like John Coltrane. My son immediately grabbed onto the idea that is explained in the book that all the sounds and music Coltrane heard as a child turned into music he played later on. Later that day we got into a deep and very long winded “Is that music Mama?” conversation and I wasn’t always sure what to say. I wasn’t expecting to get stumped by his questions so soon. Either way when a book sparks questions like that it’s a keeper!

teaching art appreciation

Just Behave, Pablo Picasso! by Johan Winter is a book not only about Pablo Picasso but also about creativity, courage and originality. The books gives the reader a little look into Picasso’s early life but really it’s about his evolution from realism to cubism and the resistance he got from just about everyone. I love how it painted Picasso as a brave individual who took the leap from doing what everyone loved to doing what he needed to do as an artist. It’s about being true to yourself and not selling out. It also really hammers home the ideas that people even adults can grow and change. One of my favorite things to as little kids is what they want to be when they grow up and really so often kids think when you are grown up it’s done, your choices were made and you just live with them after that. This helps explain that being a grown up doesn’t mean all your choices have already been chosen .

Picture Books About Worrying

books about worrying for kids anxiety books Young children have a hard time putting their fear into words ( umm tantrum anyone?) sometimes finding a book that adds words to their feelings is just what you need. Here are 16 books about worrying  and separation anxiety.

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Parts by Tedd Arnold is so funny. Readers follow along as a 5 year old boy begins noticing things about his body he’d never noticed before like belly button lint, snot, peeling skin, and more. His anxious assumptions about his body falling apart will have you in stitches. My 2 year old laughed and got most of the humor but slightly older children will be laughing hysterically at how silly the little boy’s worries are.

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First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg has a special spot in my heart.  It’s a book about not wanting to go to a new school, the first day is always the hardest and it’s easier to just stay in bed! The beauty of this book isn’t just the recognition of the anxiety about the first day but in the end the twist is that it’s the teacher who has the jitters not a student. I love this book and the power it has to help anxious kids, I have read it more than once to a jittery child and see how it can help first hand.

don't worry bear

Don’t Worry Bear by Greg Foley is a short little book about a bear who is so so worried about his little caterpillar friend. Most children will figure out what is really going on and that the bear really doesn’t have anything to worry about but that’s not the beauty of this book. The beauty of this book are the awesome illustrations. They are simple but packed with emotions.

Wemberly Worried

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes This book is about a little mouse who is about as anxious as possible. She worries about everything, and it makes her family worried too. This is a fantastic book to read before starting anything new! I read it for the children’s time at my church right before school started last fall. It was a great opener for a talk about anxiety. We all have worries and even though we may not worry as often or as fiercely as Wemberly this book makes it seem okay and normal to feel those feelings. The way the author illustrates both through words and pictures the intensity of her feelings really creates compassion in the reader for this little mouse. And that ability to understand what another is feeling is something that I desperately want to instill in my children.

kishand2

The Kissing Hand by Audry Penn is an absolute favorite . Chester is a raccoon who like most of us doesn’t like change. In his case it’s starting school. He wants to stay home with his mama and play with the friends he already has instead of going to school away from her and his friends. So his mama explains to him the magic of the kissing hand . The real magic is the message that we have to do things that scare us sometimes but that the love of our family is always with us to help us through. Go get this book.

teacher from the black lagoon

The Teacher from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler is the original book in the very popular Black Lagoon series. The imaginative story is all about a boy’s worries that his teacher is going to be a terrible child eating monster. My son giggled through the whole book and loved the gore and dark humor. I do not suggest reading this to very sensitive kids or ones that really are very nervous about school. It’s humor may not be reassuring, but kids comfortable with school will find it hilarious.

just in case

Just in Case by Judith Viorst is a funny and spot on look at the anxious child who must prepare for everything ” just in case”. As a worrier myself who must start at the worst possible scenario and then slowly come back to reality I get this book. It’s funny for kids who aren’t worriers and makes the anxious preparer feel like they aren’t alone.  The book also shows kids that they aren’t powerless to their worries.

Owl Babies

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell is perfectly written for toddlers who are eager to “do it myself” but still need a loving parent safely within view.  Three baby owls wake to find their mom away and as time passes the three all get more anxious in their own ways. My daughter loves this book and completely related to poor little Bill who repeats ” I want my mommy!” over and over.  At night she is very much like little Bill, but during the day she is braver like the other two owls Sarah and Percy. No matter what level of separation anxiety your child may have at times they will relate to one or all of the little owls. Of course the story ends with mama coming back and reassuring her little owl babies that she always will.

Scaredy Squirrel at night

Scaredy Squirrel at Night  by Melanie Watt. I love Scaredy Squirrel. His crazy anxiety, tendency to play dead and hilarious facial expressions never fail to make me laugh out loud while reading.  I love this installment because it talks about something very topical in many preschooler’s life – nighttime anxiety. I was expecting a funny book but it was also really touching and useful in regards to conquering fears. I must say for any new parent the bits about sleep deprivation will hit home, trust me.

scaredy squirrel makes a friend

Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend  by Melanie Watt is hilarious! I laughed  from start to finish, my son who was 18 months old didn’t get the humor at all but laughed at me laughing! Older preschoolers will get most of the humor though and like my son, will love the pictures ! Here is my favorite line : in very small print on the inside cover it reads ” * Caution: this story not suitable for walruses. ” Oh how I laughed ! The dry humor aside, the book follows an anxious squirrel looking for a friend , but one that is safe and won’t bite! Of course the message is about taking risks and kids will get it! I love this book!

my somebody special

My Somebody Special by Sarah Weeks is a sweet and simple book about that feeling when everyone else has been picked up from school or daycare except you. The illustrations accurately depict a preschool and I relate very well to and know many children will as well. Of course the last parent comes running in and all is well and a good reminder to children that sometimes parents are late but they will be there as soon as they can.

felix and the worrier

Felix and the Worrier by Rosemary Wells Let me start by saying I really love Rosemary Wells but I really really do not love this book. Often when I find books I don’t like I just omit them from round ups but when I saw this book on the shelf I thought ” I bet this one is great!” because of the author and grabbed it without thinking. The story is about Felix who worries a lot at night but the worries are personified as a freaky little yellow guy that taps on Felix’s window and comes in to scare him out of his happy dreams. All of the worries are over the top and while I understand what the author was trying to do the Worrier ( the little yellow guy) is just plain disturbing. The other thing I don’t like is how dismissive Felix’s mom was about his worries and how in the end it’s a puppy that fixes everything. If you have read this book and like it please offer an alternative review, I want to think that it might help some child but really it just made mine laugh nervously at the smiling but terrifying Worrier.

Love Waves

Love Waves by Rosemary Wells is about as far from the disturbing previous book as you could get. The book is all about those invisible but very real waves of love that connect child to parent no matter how far apart they are. In this one a little bunny is separated first from mom then from dad while they work outside the home, readers get to see the parents work , and miss the little bunny, then the happy reunion.  I loved this book but not as much as my daughter did. Very sweet and exactly what I’d expect from Rosemary Wells.

piglet and mama

Piglet and Mama by Margaret Wild is a book I would suggest for the under 3 crowd. My son loved it when he was 2. Piglet is searching for his mom and even though all the other animal mommies offer for him to join them and their babies he wants his mom! The illustrations by Stephen Michael King capture the warmth between a mama and her baby beautifully . My son had the “Mama” scream perfected and quite enjoyed seeing the little piglet do the same thing for her mama when we read this book. Even if separation anxiety isn’t something you are dealing with at your house this is a sweet book.

mama always comes home

Mama Always Comes Home by Karma Wilson was a last minute grab at the library that I am so thankful I saw. It starts off with animal mother’s leaving their babies, for all different reasons . A bird gathering food, a dog greeting his master and more. The animal mothers leave, but they also always return to their babies. Then it switches to a child and mother. She reassures the child that she will be back and we watch her leave, and return . I loved this book because my son isn’t the best when I leave him, he related to this book immediately and was repeating ” Mama always comes home!” half way through. { I originally reviewed this in 2009 and have since read it many times to my daughter who also needed those gentle reminders that I would always return. }

jake starts school

Jake Starts Schoolby Micheal Wright is such a great book that has just the right amount of sarcasm for the adults reading it and a great message and humor for the kids too. Jake is a little scared about his first day at school so he decides to hold on to his parents and not let go. The day wears on and his parents patience is wearing thin as they do everything stuck together including recess… but a great teacher finally gets Jake to connect with a book and become her helper and finally he lets go of him poor aching parents. I really enjoy this author/illustrator because I relate so well to his characters, Jake who is anxious and his parents that love him and will support him but aren’t necessarily thrilled to be sitting at his desk in his kindergarten class. I thought it was touching  and my son thought it was funny so it was a win win for us.

Books About Cancer For Kids

books about cancer for kids I know this isn’t a happy subject but I am getting more and more requests for books written for children about cancer. A few days ago I was scrolling through my facebook feed and four statuses in a row were about cancer written by friends. There is no six degrees of separation when it comes to cancer. I hope you never need to read any of these books, I hope this list is the least used list on my site, but it’s here if you need it. This is not a definitive list, please if you know any books about cancer for kids share the title in comments.

Some of these books explain treatment and are hopeful and some include death and grief. I have noted the end result of the cancer in each review because I want to help you find the right book. All titles are linked to amazon.com with affiliate links.

you are the best medicine

You Are the Best Medicine by Julie Aigner Clark stands out among these books. The book follows a mom sharing her new cancer diagnosis with her young daughter saying why she is both happy and sad about it. She relates everything back to happier times to put a positive spin on the challenges.  The memories she has of time spent with her daughter and all the times she is still looking forward to will be the best medicine. Everything about this book is gentle and soft and ultimately positive. The book speaks of getting better like it’s a given and while emotions are absolutely discussed , loss is not part of this book. Its goal is reassurance and comfort.

cancer5

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is for kids – but much bigger kids . This YA novel is witty and funny and yes about cancer. It will also probably make you cry. It’s a love story about two teenagers who meet at a support group for kids with cancer. I don’t want to ruin it for you ( and I do encourage adults to read it, it’s not typical YA) but it captures the essence of cancer not being fair. It also captures the feelings parents might have when their child is very very ill. Many of the adults that I knew who read this book cried because they related to the main characters but I teared up reading dialog between Hazel and her parents. Great book for young teens and older.

That Summer

That Summer by Tony Johnson. While reading this I didn’t even try to conceal my tears, I wasn’t crying I was sobbing.  The book is about the summer that one little boy watches his brother Joey get sick and die from Cancer.  The author does a masterful job at relating grief, and the sadness of watching someone you love and don’t expect to die, get weak and leave you.  As Joey’s condition worsens he learns to quilt and ultimately it’s his brother who finishes his quilt. I can’t rave about this book enough it simply makes the reader get it, as much as you can without ever living this particular nightmare. The line that haunted me was ” I learned a lot that summer, how to grin when your heart is in shreds..” that was the line that forced me into the “ugly cry”. This book would be incredibly useful for children who are grieving and feel like they are treading these waters alone.

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Champ’s Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too! by Sherry North is a sweet book about a little boy and his dog. While petting Champ Cody he finds a lump and it turns out to be cancer. Cody takes very good care of Champ while she goes through her chemo and she returns the favor when he is hurt. The story is touching and hits a few great points but the real gem are the back pages of the book that include facts and even quizzes about cancer.

punk wig

Punk Wig by Lori Ries is about as funny and cute as any book about cancer can be. In the book a little boy explains that his mom has cancer and as she goes through chemotherapy and looses her hair they go shopping for a wig. The wig she ends up choosing is a punk one that looks nothing like her hair before she lost it. The banter between mom and son is adorable and it explains cancer as ” alien blobs” and chemo as “zapping ” them with medicine. The overall feeling of this book is upbeat and even the parts where the mom is obviously sick have little bits of whimsy thrown in. This is a good pic for preschoolers and for children curious about why a friend or acquaintance has lost their hair during chemotherapy. In this book the mom goes into remission and it’s explained as all the alien blobs have gone away and she gives her punk wig to her son for dress up.

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And Still They Bloom: A Family’s Journey of Loss and Healing by Amy Rovere is a wonderful book about loss and grieving. The story follows two children as the navigate the loss of their mother to cancer. So many issues are addressed in this book. Issues include well meaning but hurtful comments, anger towards the deceased, and fear of forgetting what they looked like. So much of this book deals with the anger that accompanies grief and how unfair it all is. There are no saccharine answers or platitudes, just real honest and frank discussions about the validity of emotions. The text is long and the target audience would be school age and up.

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Mom and the Polka-Dot Boo-Boo by Eileen Sutherland is a simplistic rhyming explanation of breast cancer for young children. It keeps the facts simple and explains what is going to happen like being tired, and loosing her hair but it also says that she will feel great and be able to play chase again when all the treatments are done. The illustrations are all children’s artwork and they help to balance the serious subject.

Hair For Mama

Hair for Mama by Kelly A. Tinkham is beautiful. The story is about a little boy who is desperate to find some hair for his mama who has lost hers to chemotherapy. Marcus wants mama to be in the family photo but she doesn’t want to be the way she looks. His mission comes to a climax when he shaves off all his own hair hoping to give it to his mama. When the barber sweeps it up with the other hair on the floor Marcus is heart broken and goes home in tears. I was sobbing reading this, I knew it was a story about a mom having cancer but the way the author wrote it , it was magical. The complex emotions this little boy felt for his mom and she for him, jumped off the page and you can’t help but cry. I wasn’t sad ,I was touched by the love and desire to fix his mom and make everything better, and his parents tenderness to his feelings. I can’t recommend this book more highly. I should note that this is not a book for toddlers, I would probably wait until a child is 4-5 before reading them this gem. In the end the mom is still fighting cancer.

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Where’s Mom’s Hair? by Debbie Watters is a documentary in a book. The family consists of a mom , dad and two boys and mom has cancer. They throw a bog party for her when her hair starts falling out and everyone gets their hair cropped super short. The book then is less of a party while she is going through chemo but ends on a high note with new hair and seemingly great health. The book is told from the perspective of one of her children and talks about her being sick but never about the fear of loosing her to the disease. I loved the photos in this book because it felt like you were right there with this family.

 

Books About Superheroes

books about superheroes for kids When my son was four he was obsessed with superheroes. If you dig through our archives from May through September 2011 you will see he is almost always in a Batman tee-shirt. This was more than just a little love of a hero it was about strength and security. We were selling our house, moving to a new one , and in his life there were a lot of changes. Kids aren’t impervious to big life changes even if they are resilient. That tee-shirt was his security along with this shield and a sword fashioned from a broken toy. This is why I LOVE books about superheroes, they help our children tap into their inner strength, feel invincible, and eventually face and work through their fears.

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Super Duck (Duck in the Truck) by Jez Albourough was ok, I liked it but my little man didn’t. The book is part of a series and we haven’t read the other books, we grabbed this one because of the superhero theme and Super Duck was only kinda super . I liked the rhyming text because it flowed well, the rhymes were never forced but it was just too young for my son who was 4.5 when we reviewed it.  He didn’t find Duck funny, but I am sure other kids would. It’s a fun silly book, just don’t grab it for a kid who is expecting body armor, x-ray vision, and golden lassos.

Supersister by Beth Cedena wasn’t full of x-ray vision or super powers either but my son adored it. Kids are unpredictable. This story though is sweet and also has a little but of mystery to it , which upon reflection could be one reason why my son liked it so much. Supersister is a little girl who is brave and helpful demonstrated by how she lovingly ties her moms shoes for her before zooming off to school. Okay so I preach about pre-reading books, but rarely do it and reading this I was so worried the mom was going to be in  hospital bed and that’s why she needs her daughter to tie her shoes. I lean towards the dramatic so I doubt you’d even be thinking that and my son didn’t either. No nothing tragic has happened to mom , she is just very very pregnant. Supersister is practicing her role as a caregiver and older sister! My son loved that since he takes his still fairly new role of big brother very seriously. Cute book for new siblings especially!

awesome man

The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man by Michael Chabon is a fun book with a little secret twist to keep readers engaged. I won’t ruin the twist but I will say that if you read this book you MUST read it with a silly announcer voice, it makes it so much more fun. In the book Awesome Man and Moskowitz the Awesome Dog fight off over the top villains and save the day more than once in this witty and surprisingly lengthy book. My children liked the book and it’s funny tone. It is not a scary superhero book at all and I love the vocabulary used throughout. The retro feel to the illustrations by Jake Parker were my favorite part !

Batman

Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight by Ralph Cosentino is rare a book about a comic book character that is in a picture book format. I am telling you it’s hard to find books about Batman that I feel is not too violent for my 4 year old. This one is great , and the illustrations will leave you breathless. It explains the gist of the Batman story without going into too many dark  details and the text is the right length for preschooler’s attention spans. My son loves it and had it memorized in just a few days. The author illustrator also has  Superman and Wonder Woman in the series.

Eliot Jones, Midnight Superhero by Alex Cottringer was exactly the kind of superhero book both my son and I were looking for. Eliot is just a calm quiet boy by day but by night he saves the world! It tapped into my son’s imagination right from the start and he was hooked. He loved the action and I loved that unlike the more character driven superhero books the plot is high on action and saving and low on violence and aggression. My son loved that scientists were working with Eliot, and that he had to travel to the Himalayas as part of this mission to save the world. I loved it to because it totally promotes and makes science and geography extra cool! All in all a great book although the text would have been too long for my son a year ago at 3. I’d keep this one for the 4 and up crowd.

ladybug girl

 

Ladybug Girl Dresses Up! by Jacky Davis is one positive girl book that my daughter adores. In this board book Lulu dresses up in a handful of different costumes including both “girl” ones and “boy” ones. She is equally happy in a princess dress as she is as a pirate. The one costume she loves above all the rest is her Ladybug Girl one, because as Ladybug Girl she can do anything. The message I want to send to my daughter more than any other, she can do anything even if she may have to work as hard as a superhero.

superpowers

The Day I Lost My Superpowers by Michael Escoffier is a sweet look at a child’s imagination and how she sees the world and her place in it. I love the how the super powers include things like “going back in time” at nap time and flying… off the slide. The best part though is when all the super powers disappear. All kids have rough days and this book recognizes that and tells them it’s OK not to have super powers every day.

awesome dawson

Awesome Dawson by Chris Gall was an instant hit with both my children. Dawson is an amazing little boy who invents new things from other people’s trash. Dawson is just like other children who try to find ways to get out of their chores so he can get back to the important work of play. He’s one step ahead of most kids though and invents a robot to take care of this chores, but things don’t go as awesome as he hoped. That’s when he must re-invent himself into a superhero to save the day. I really love this book and how inspiring it is for kids exploring the idea of invention and tinkering.

traction man

Traction Man Is Here! by Mini Grey tickled me. I loved this slightly absurd book about Traction Man an action figure superhero. The excitement begins with Christmas when Traction Man is given to a little boy and they immediately dive into action. He saves the day over and over until the day includes a hand knit outfit made by Granny. The page where Traction Man puts on the outfit and matching bonnet made me snort I laughed so hard, but my daughter only smiled. While she liked the book much of the humor was above her head at 4. The very end is hilarious and everyone at the lunch table was giggling as I read it. The story is fresh and fun and in the end Traction Man saves the day.

My First Batman Book

My First Batman Book: Touch and Feel by David Katz. This is a  rare find. A board book , a touch and feel no less,  about Batman. Trust me it’s rare, I squealed when I found it at the library and could not believe what a treat it was to read with both my kids. It’s not secret my son ( the one in the improvised Batman mask above) is into superheroes, he is also into books and I want to encourage that. However some of the books are so violent and I don’t want to expose him to all that at 4.5 , he is just too young for my comfort zone. For beginning readers there are some great I Can Read books but for even younger children pickings are super slim. Luckily there is this book. It’s sturdy, it’s age appropriate and it even glows in the dark

super princess kitty

Princess Super Kitty by Antoinette Portis is fun little book about a little girl playing pretend. She starts out as a kitty and as the play continues she evolves into superhero and finally adds princess to her title before playing with her siblings.  This book captures pretend play and how so much of it is about trying on powerful roles. For my daughter this was a very familiar tale because her pretend play often includes a princess ballerina superhero. We read the book three times in one sitting and have yet to return it to the library because “It’s just so fun Mama!”

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Batman Classic: Meet the Super Heroes: With Superman and Wonder Woman by Micheal Teitelbaum is another Batman book that both my son and I really liked. It’s an easy read for independent readers and not too long for kids not yet reading alone. What I really appreciated about this book was that the super heroes used teamwork to defeat a dragon. Here is why I liked this, because it wasn’t person on person violence , no guns, and all the heroes pitched in.  It’s hard finding books that satisfy your child’s love of a character while still fitting your comfort zones. This book does it.