Halloween time is one of the best at the library. We decorate the children’s room and are rewarded by toddlers barreling into the area joyfully shouting, “Halloween!” upon seeing the confetti filled cauldron, jack-o-lantern lights and hanging cobwebs. We buy ghost stickers, purple spider rings and black cat bookmarks as treats for the kids. We put together costumes, shopping at thrift stores, sewing something from scratch or raiding our closets, in order to properly impress the little ones. We create festive flyers featuring images of pumpkins and scarecrows for the main focus of our Halloween celebrations - storytimes.
There are a plethora of delightful picture books to choose from for Halloween storytimes but my favorite ones are those that you don’t need to read but can tell instead. Doing weekly storytimes year round isn't conducive for proper storytelling without the book. It can be time intensive and takes a lot of prep but for our special holiday events I love to lose the book. I think groups have a more memorable and captivating experience when they must use their imagination and rely solely on the storyteller’s voice. It also allows for you to better connect with the audience and involve them in the story. Here are some of my favorites that I have used in the past few years.
A true Halloween classic. This is great with or without the book, although, you need something to show at the end since the big surprise is a scarecrow, so I’d recommend doing it as a flannel board. This interactive story is great for a wide range of ages and no matter how many times kids have heard it, they don’t get sick of it.
Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman
This is a cut and tell story so while cutting a piece of orange paper with scissors you describe how you are making a house for a little witch and at the end you have an unexpected picture of a jack-o-lantern. The audience is always pleasantly surprised.
Looking at my list, I realize the best Halloween stories all seem to feature petite women or witches. Another story I’m excited to try out in the future, that does not feature a little woman, is one I heard from a locally hired performer who tells campfire stories. It’s called The Ghost with One Black Eye. Again, it has all the right elements, repetition, humor and a somewhat unexpected ending.
When I do end up using the book during holiday storytimes, I select ones that have a little more pizazz since we get a huge turnout and it takes a little something extra keeping the attention of a large crowd of young ones. Here are some of my favorite books to use and they all have a musical bent.