Recommended Reading: Children's Books

There are a lot of books for kids that feature monsters.  However, most of them disappoint in that they're just rehashes of monster movies, and they usually dial down the horror to make the monsters friendly and appealing.  But monsters are only appealing if they're monsters!  We have several shelves full of books about Halloween and horror, but only a few of them get it right.  Here are some of my top pics.

Movie Monsters by Alan Ormsby.  I remember getting a copy of this in 3rd grade through one of those Scholastic book order things we always did.  It was a huge influence on me, although I was already nuts about Halloween.  I only found the title again after seeing it mentioned in a Halloween blog.  It's a kid's book about monster make-up and how to put on horror shows written by a Hollywood professional and beautifully illustrated by the author.  You can find a scanned copy of it here:

Scary, Scary Halloween by Eve Bunting and Jan Brett.  I love everything about this book.  It has a wonderful text, beautiful art, a nice twist at the end, and I think it perfectly and concisely sums up so much about Halloween itself.  This is one of my favorite books.

Cinderella Skeleton by Robert D. San Souci and David Catrow.  Great re-telling of the story of Cinderella, only from a macabre angle with excellent paintings, plus the entire text is in verse (albeit with a rhyme scheme I wasn't crazy about: ABCCDDB... which makes it difficult to land that last rhyme to coincide with the word from five lines up).

Mommy? by Maurice Sendak, Arthur Yorinks, and Matthew Reinhart.  An amazing pop-up book.  Probably the best one I have ever seen, both on a technical level and in terms of how well it worked for us as a story.  (I'm avoiding a spoiler, but Stan really enjoyed a personal connection with one of our past Halloween costumes.)

Ten Little Zombies: A Love Story by Andy Rash.  A very cute, hip story you can teach your little zombie to count with, so long as you don't object to gruesome violence in cartoon form.  Stan loved it.  Highly recommended.  A great way to work on counting and anticipating rhymes.

There's a Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone and illustrated by Mike Smollin.  A Sesame Street book in which Grover warns us why we shouldn't turn the next page.  A minor classic.

What was I Scared of?: A Glow-in-the-Dark Encounter by Dr. Seuss.  A unique book among Seuss' works in that it literally glow in the dark (or under a black light)!  We happen to always have a blacklight in ???Stan's bedroom, to this works out perfectly!

See also the Monster Reference Books for kids.


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