Monday, October 5, 2015

Toddler X's Top Books for Fall

If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I love both books and Fall, so it should come as no surprise that I've decided to write a post incorporating the two. Toddler X and I have spent the last month looking around for great Fall and Halloween-themed reading materials for toddlers, and here's what we've come up with. I'd love to include some more reader suggestions as well, so please share your favorites!

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Favorites for Young Toddlers

Yes, Toddler X is 3 1/2 now, and most of his new books these days are a bit more complex, but he still enjoys a good board book as much as any kid, and these are three that he's liked this fall. Any toddler -- indeed, even infants -- would enjoy these. (No scares to be found!)
The Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin. This cute board book is about a little pumpkin traveling around on his own on Halloween night, and is based on the rhyme scheme of -- you guessed it -- The Itsy Bitsy Spider. The first time I read it to Toddler X, I actually sung it to the Itsy Bitsy Spider tune, and he got really upset -- apparently a classicist, he couldn't stand me messing with the original. I offered to read it, without the tune, and he loved it like that. Whether you sing it or speak it, it's a cute book with friendly witches and smiling ghosts, bats and spiders -- and a happy ending that places the itsy bitsy pumpkin back home with his family. Definitely recommend for 1-2 year olds.

Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin. We've really enjoyed the Duck and Goose series over the past few years, and this is a very cute one. With the same darling illustrations and simple text as the other Duck and Goose books, and a fun search theme that will have your toddler shouting, "No!" each time they look in the wrong place (it reminds me of Toddler X's early love for "Where is Spot?"), this will be a hit with the little ones. Toddler X enjoys it quite a bit a 3 1/2. Nothing even remotely scary in this one.

Llama Llama, Trick or Treat. We're big fans of the Llama Llama books, and this is a cute, very simple board book for younger toddlers. It's got all the usual Halloween elements -- choosing a costume, carving a pumpkin -- with the usual fun Llama Llama rhythm and rhyme, and the usual cute illustrations. It's tough to go wrong with those elements. If you tend to enjoy the Llama Llama series of books, you'll like this one.

Boo. Toddler X picked this one up from a stack of Halloween books at the library and demanded we read it "right now...please!" So we did, and he loved it. We brought it home, and now he's asked to tag it onto our reading list every night -- which is easy, 'cause it takes like a minute and a half to read. It's a super simple story, definitely geared for younger toddlers, but Toddler X likes the colorful illustrations and watching the toddler who was a bit scared of Halloween have a complete turnaround when he realizes there's candy involved. He also liked the page of pumpkin face options, and the other one of costume options -- a great set up for toddlers. This is a popular author with a lot of books in the same style -- if you like her other ones, you'll like this.

It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse! From the author and illustrator of the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series of books, this pumpkin story features the familiar mouse, along with the dog from If You Give a Dog a Donut. The story focuses exclusively on decorating pumpkins, so it's a good Halloween choice for toddlers who might be frightened of costumes. Cute and simple for little ones.

Favorites for Older Toddlers/Preschoolers
Toddler X and I have been reading every Halloween and Fall-themed book we can find at libraries and bookstores over the past few weeks, and here are three that have jumped out to us. All are toddler/preschooler appropriate, with limited or amusing "scary" creatures/costumes -- and all are lots of fun!

Sheep Trick or Treat. This is a great book for kids who are squeamish about "scary" Halloween costumes, because it shows the sheep -- the same ones from Sheep in a Jeep and the rest of the really cute series -- getting dressed for their trick-or-treat outing. While the costumes might be scary in the abstract (and, indeed, scare some wolves away later in the book), actually seeing the sheep in the process of creating them and putting them on might help some kids who are otherwise uncomfortable with mummy, witch, or vampire costumes. The farm trick-or-treating scene is really cute, and it's fun to watch the sheep triumph over the lurking wolves. Toddler X really likes this one.

I am a Witch's Cat. I discovered this one at the library and fell in love immediately based on the darling cover illustration -- and fortunately, the story itself is equally adorable. It's a story of a little girl who envisions herself as the black cat sidekick to her mommy, who she imagines to be a good witch. The illustration style is hard to explain -- is it drawings, or cutouts, or what?? -- but it is super, super cool. Worth checking out, especially if you have a little girl who likes to pretend.

Fall Mixed Up. If Toddler X had to pick his favorite of our Fall/Halloween collection, this would have to be it. He loves this book -- we've read it twice a day (or more) for three days straight now, and he doesn't show any signs of letting up. In typical preschooler fashion, he loves books where there is something goofy or silly or wrong on each page (a la Wacky Wednesday, one of my own favorites when I was a kid, and one of his now), and this book addresses a whole bunch of autumnal topics, but keeps getting it just a little bit wrong. Kids can't get enough of the migrating squirrels and hibernating geese. The art work is lots of fun too -- spend some time looking at the lettering on the front page and the goofy things flying around inside the back cover. (Note that there's one page that shows a mummy, bat and witch, and mentions tombs -- which, of course, Toddler X promptly wanted the definition of -- but there's nothing actually scary in this book.) Preschoolers will love this book.

Room on the Broom. I can't believe I left this off the list initially -- I guess I just didn't think of it as a Halloween book, because it's one of our favorite books all year long! Julia Donaldson is amazing here, as in The Gruffalo, with perfect rhymes, rhythms and repetition that little kids love to hear, and parents love to read. It's a story of a welcoming witch and her new friends and coming through to help the ones you care about...oh, and one seriously awesome broom. Scare factor is very low -- the witch, though witchy-looking, is super friendly, and the one scene where a dragon tries to eat her passes quickly, with an apology. Fantastic book year-round. (Note that they have a paperback, hard cover, and board book edition available for this one.)

10 Trick-or-Treaters. Another library find, this is a really cute book in the style of Five Little Monkeys or any of the myriad other books that count down as character after character is eliminated. (Yikes! Makes me think of Agatha Christie's creepy And Then There Were None. Don't read that with your toddler.) It starts with ten trick-or-treaters in various costumes, who take off for home when they're scared away by something or other -- a bat, a spider, etc. The things that are doing the scaring aren't really all that scary, but this might not be the best book for a truly nervous toddler or preschooler. Toddler X really loves it though (they love counting down, don't they?), and the illustrations are lots of fun.

Click, Clack, Boo! We were excited to spot this one in Barnes & Noble, as Toddler X is a big fan of the Click Clack Moo series of books. This is a cute one, featuring the usual cast of characters (the cows, Duck, Farmer Brown, etc.) on Halloween night -- a night that Farmer Brown is frightened of, until he goes to the animals' barn party. There are a few pages at the start that might scare a child a little bit, where they're illustrating why Farmer Brown doesn't like Halloween, but overall this is a scare-free book.




Reader Picks

My readers are always great sources of books suggestions for me -- here are a few that their kids have enjoyed, but which we haven't had a chance to check out yet. Let me know if your own favorite isn't on here, and I'll add it to the list!


    Enjoy these books, and enjoy fall! Happy toddling!

    1 comment:

    1. "The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything" By Linda Williams is our preschool favorite. Also, I just found "Even Monsters Need Haircuts" by Matthew McElligott at the library, and it's wonderful!!! "Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance" by Keith Graves is silly & super fun, too.


    Hmm...what to do today?