Halloween Books!

Scary Good Books !

I am posting this now so there is some hope that my readers will be able to find these books in their local library before they are all snatched up!

” Monster Math” by Anne Miranda is a fun math lesson turned into a fun and entertaining storybook. You can simply read the book or you can have your little mathematician help you guess how many new monsters arrive and leave on each page. The illustrations are adorable and even if the math skills are above your toddler or preschoolers heads they will still enjoy the book.
” 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 hundreds of times.

” 10 Trick – or Treaters by Janet Schulman was the book I bought to try and eclipse ” Inside a House That Is Haunted” and while my class loved this one two my plan didn’t quite work out. This book has the most adorable pictures and in every page there is an owl hidden somewhere, which is a great trick to keep reluctant readers involved. The story counts down from 10 to no trick or treaters with fun rhyming text and a fun array of trick or treaters in cute costumes.

Alphabet Book List

animalia by Greame Base

Align Center

Animalia by Graeme Base is iconic in teaching circles, you can loose yourself for hours in the detailed illustrations. The book is an alphabet book on steroids! Each page had a wonderful paragraph in each letter such as for the letter L ” Lazy Lions lounging in the local library.” The pages are filled to the gills with pictures of things that start with that letter as well. Parents and kids a like will fall in love!


Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming is a wonderful example of what an alphabet book should be. Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers learning their first letters, the text is short , the letters are front and center and the illustrations are fun and interesting. My son loves this book, I grabbed it at the library after remembering how much my Pre K class loved it too! Many alphabet books are too long to read entirety at circle time or in one shot with a toddler but this my 19 month old will sit through Z every time!


The Racecar Alphabet by Brian Floca did not live up to my expectations. My main complaint it that the letters aren’t showcased at all. Yes each page starts with the appropriate letter but I really feel like in an alphabet book the letter needs to be obvious , and easy for young children to pick out. The text was centered around each letter but there wasn’t very good flow from one page to the next. I was disappointed in this pick.

What Pete Ate
What Pete Ate from A to Z by Marie Kalman had my Pre-K class in stitches begging for more. It really is a funny book about a dog and his alphabetical list of things he’s eaten. I like it because it’s funny and simple and the alliterative text isn’t forced. The sarcastic bits will keep parents giggling too!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is one of my absolute favorite books ever. Many alphabet books are great tools but this one not only entertains it never gets old. It’s text is musical , it’s premise is brilliant in it’s simplicity and kids love it. My favorite line is ” Skit skat scoodle doot. Flip flop flee. ” I hope I am conveying how much fun this book is to read out loud. I have never had a class who didn’t like it and if you don’t have it, you should!
Chicka Chicka ABC is a fantastic board book and shorter version of the longer book. My son loves this book and it’s the perfect amount of text for a toddler, the illustrations by Lois Ehlert are so bright and bold that even very young babies will respond to it! A must have for all bookshelves.

Baby's Alphabet by Jean Marzollo
Baby’s Alphabetby Jean Marzollo will appeal to your baby and toddler, we were given it as a gift and my son has loved it since about 9 months on. The photographs of other babies will keep your little one interested and you will be surprised how soon they will anticipate the next page, I know I was. Sadly our copy is now flying the friendly skies , we took it on a flight with us last week and forgot it. Hopefully someone with a baby finds it !

The Ocean Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta is a good book, not a page turner but it is filled with fun facts about sea creatures. The book is geared towards older children but because it has letters prominently displayed on each page, with great illustrations your toddler will enjoy it too. The text really is too long to read from A-Z for a circle time or a toddler but it was very easy for me to simply read each letter and label the ocean animal for my son who then sat through the whole alphabet. If your child is into all things that swim this is a good book to foster that love and learn a little about letters at the same time!


Alphabeep!: A Zipping, Zooming ABC by Debora Pearson is a great book for older toddlers and preschoolers. The transportation themed book uses rhymes and colorful illustrations to go from A to Z. The text was a bit long for my young toddler but I shortened it and he was able to enjoy the book , children 2 and up will love it just the way it is! This is on my must buy list.


Get Your Library Card Ready…

Brand Spanking New !
( well to me)

These books and are too cute to miss, so put away the classics ( just for today) and run to your library and crack open something new!

” The Bus For Us” by Suzanne Bloom is a insanely simple but totally engaging book. My son loved it because each page brings a new vehicle to the bus stop, and I loved it because of the children represented were diverse. There is a good repetitive rhyme as well.



Sink or Swim “
by Valerie Coulman is my new favorite book, it’s about a cow who is determined to learn how to swim. He seeks out advice, gets all the equipment and never gives up! The story is a wonderful lesson about tenacity in the face of adversity . The cow just keeps trying!

“The List” by Hazel Hutchins is a really sweet story about a generous queen eager to shower a neighboring kingdom’s new prince with all the best gifts, and her little daughter who in the end provides the best and simplest of them all. Very cute and a good lesson about the bestthings being free, simple and from the heart.

But Can They Write?

Celebrity Authors
Here are my reviews of a few books written by authors you may know and love ( or hate) from their other lives as celebrities. I am eager to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment about celebrity authors, the featured books or leave a recommendation for a “celebrity” book I didn’t mention .

“Is There Really A Human Race?” by Jamie Lee Curtis made me cry. My husband would say that’s not exactly hard , but it is when it’s a book not many bring me to tears. I really like this book and so did my son which surprised me because I thought it would be too long and sophisticated for a 2 year old. The rhyming text was so well written that it along with the adorable illustrations by Laura Cornell kept him happily interested as I read it to him before nap. I thought that the message was going to be about race relations, but instead it was about the rat race, and how it’s more important to try your best, help others and to be bold. The line ” And for those who can’t speak for themselves use bold voices” was when I lost it. I hope that lesson is one I can teach my son, to stand up for others. Okay so maybe I am a softy but this book is great!


“Where Do Balloons Go?: An Uplifting Mystery” by Jamie Lee Curtis is a cute book. After being so happily surprised with the previous book I grabbed this one and started reading it to my son. This was too sophisticated for a 2 year old and probably too much after a few other books. It’s a funny book that fantasizes about the life of a balloon after it slips from your hands. I wish I could have read it to a 4 or 5 year old to see their reaction. I liked it but the message that stood out for me was most definitely one for the parent reading it more than for the child. Not that kids wouldn’t be entertained, I am sure they would. The overall message is about letting go, and what parent can’t relate to the anxiety of letting go.


“I Got Two Dogs” by John Lithgow will delight you. The book comes with a CD and I urge you to play it, hearing a book by the author is always amazing, but this song was thoroughly entertaining. As a dog lover who fondly remembers my childhood dog eating all the lasagnas at my first boy girl dinner party , I can relate to the naughty but lovable dogs. The message is about devotion and unconditional love and you don’t have to be a dog lover to get that.


“Carnival of the Animals” by John Lithgow is a book about a little boy who falls asleep on a school trip to the natural history museum. He has wild dreams where people in his life turn into the animals from the museum. This is the perfect example of why I should preview books before handing them to my son. This book isn’t for toddlers, some may like it but the text is long and the illustrations while beautiful and can be scary. They freaked my son out so we closed it and I read it later. The book is written in prose and the vocabulary is advanced , which I love! How are children suppose to expand their vocabularies if we don’t challenge them? That said I would probably not expect a child under 5 to sit through the whole book, although I am sure some eager 3 or 4 year olds would be just fine. I should also note that the book also comes with a CD although mine was missing from my library copy, I will update this post after I have found a copy and listened to it.

“Mr. Peabody’s Apples” by Madonna is a preachy but worth a look. As an adult reading it I couldn’t help but think it was a “poor me” story about how celebrities are faced with rumors but really that must be hard. I was being unfair so I put my preexisting knowledge about the author away and started to like the story. It’s about a teacher who is the center of a small town’s gossip mill after a boy thinks he sees the teacher steal. The moral tone is heavy but the Rockwellesque illustrations by Loren Long make reading it feel like you are in a time warp and the heavy tone is not so overbearing. The book is far too long for young preschoolers but appropriate for the 5 and up crowd.


“The English Roses” by Madonna is a pretty book, filled with pretty girls with pretty hair and pretty clothes. I’m not sure I like the rest of it. I don’t hate it but I am a little concerned about a few messages that stood out for me. Now as a teacher I have had to defend some books to parents over the years and I think that most books can be spun by the questions the teacher or parent asks and how the discussion after reading goes. This book can be useful with that for sure, and I think many young girls especially would like this book. Here are my reservations though, the plot is about a clique of girls who don’t like a classmate. They don’t like her because she is “perfect” and they are jealous of that. After a rude awakening by a fairy godmother they see she has no mom and does many chores. So they pity her and decide to start being nice to her, in return people start talking about them and they become popular. I guess I was hoping that in the long book that there would be more substance to the lesson. Like people for who they are not because you feel sorry for them, judge people when you know them not by their outsides and I think Madonna trying for that but just missed the mark.

Books About Mom


“Runaway Bunny” by Margaret Wise Brown I am trying to find the right way to say how much I dislike this book I know many love it but I just can’t get on board. A few years ago my assistant teacher and I used to call it “Run bunny run!” because this poor bunny is just trying to get some space from his mom. I know that some people adore this book and think that the sentiment of security is the one to focus on but I can’t write that I love it when I don’t.

“Stellaluna” by Janell Canon has long been a favorite when teaching about bats. I will warn you it’s a little long for fidgety toddlers but they will still enjoy it even if you skip a few pages. The story follows a little bat who looses her mother and is adopted into a family of birds. She never really feels like she belongs even though she is happy. and likes her bird family. That’s not the end though, there is a surprise reunion and Stellaluna saves the day before the end of this book!

” Does A Kangaroo Have A Mother Too?” by Eric Carle is a educational and fun story for toddlers and preschoolers. Much like many of his other books, the story is simple, the text is short but the over all reading experience is great. This was a favorite to read at circle time because the whole book is the same question over and over, which is the perfect foundation for gathering your student’s or children’s opinions!


“Is Your Mama a Llama? “ by Deborah Guarino is a classroom favorite, I don’t know many preschool teachers who can’t recite most of this book . Readers follow Lloyd the llama as he riddles his way through a bunch of animals until he find the one he calls mom. I like the mix of animals in this book, a little different than your average zoo or farm collection.


“Did I Tell You I Love You Today?” by Deloris Jordan is a very practical yet heartwarming look at all the ways parents show love to their children everyday, from feeding them healthy food to praying after they go to bed. My son loved all the big boy things in the book like, the school bus, basketball and the playground. I teared up reading the book, but I cry at American Idol so that may not be indicative of anything!

“I Love You With All My Heart!” by Noris Kern is the precursor to “Will you Still Love Me” the author is the illustrator in the other book. The characters are the same and the story is equally as sweet. It’s a slow but calming story about Polo’s quest to understand what mama bear means when she says she loves him with all her heart!

“Mama’s Saris” by Pooja Makhijani is a simple yet rich story about a little girl and her desire to dress in her mama’s clothes. I think I would be hard pressed to find a woman who doesn’t remember watching in awe as her mom got dressed for a special event and wanting to dress just like mama. The narrator is Hindu and her mama wears a sari for special occasions and she is stubbornly trying to get her mom to let her wear one for her 7th birthday. The illustrations are beautiful, especially the jewel tones of the various saris. This book would be a great one to read before playing dress up or other pretend play. The story is touching and although it’s too long for toddlers, it’s a great book for preschoolers !




” I Love You, Stinky Face” by Lisa McCourt reminds me of “The Runaway Bunny” but less saccharine and creepy. Sorry if I have just called your favorite book creepy but I’ve never been a fan of “The Runaway Bunny”. Back to this book and why I like it, I love that the little boy in the book keeps trying to find ways to make him unlovable and the mom keeps finding ways to love unconditionally. There is a deeper meaning here and moms will see past the fun illustrations to the real heart of this book, which is no matter what we love our children. When I found this in a thrift store and read it quickly, I couldn’t look at my son in his stroller throwing puffs on the floor without tearing up!

” Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch is perhaps the classic tear jerking picture book. I read this for years and years to children and had no problem getting choked up, it never bothered me, then I gave birth and I can’t read it without sobbing. The premise is simple, a mom sings this simple song to her son as he grows ” I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as you’re living , my baby you’ll be.” until she can’t sing it anymore and it’s his turn. For days after I read this I tear up as I lay my son in his crib.


” The Mommy Book” by Todd Parr is a bright, funny and wonderfully random book. I love Todd Parr and his blunt and diverse books. In this one he once again reassures kids that mommies come in all different forms but all mommies want you to be who you are! Your kids will love the simple and vibrant pictures that are Todd Parr’s signature!

“The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn is a beautiful story about a little raccoon afraid to go to school and leave his mother, but his mom knows a special trick for Chester to be brave and remember that his mommy loves him. This book has helped a number of former students get over separation anxiety although sometimes I think it’s more for us moms than our brave little guys!


“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.


“My Mama Says There Aren’t Any Zombies, Ghosts, Vampires, Creatures, Demons, Monsters, Fiends, Goblins or Things.” by Judith Viorst is a lovely , touching but not saccharine book about how moms makes mistakes too. The litter boy narrating the book, continues to insist that there are monsters and such despite his mom saying there isn’t. He used the fact that he often catches his mom making little mistakes to prove that she must be wrong when she says those horrible creatures don’t exist. In the end though mama keeps him safe and is right after all.


” Piglet and Mama” by Margaret Wild is the only book in this list I would suggest for the under 3 crowd. My son loved it. 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 has the “Mama” scream perfected and quite enjoyed seeing the little piglet do the same thing for her mama. We had a nice chat after reading this about separation, something we have been struggling with for a while. Before nap today I reminded my son that just like piglet his mama will come get him when he wakes up. Even if separation anxiety isn’t something you are dealing with at your house this is a sweet book.