Top 5: Picks for Hallowe’en

Here are a few of my picks for the season. For the young and timid, there are many picture books about children trick or treating, which might be a safer way to start than with books about ghouls. Also good are books with adorable, loveable witches, ghosts, etc. Also, books are never as scary as movies, so you might want to veer away from Hallowe’en videos if your child is particularly skittish.

Some of these choices are Hallowe’eny in spirit, if not in specifics…

BOOKS

1. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak – Ages 3+

This one is good because the boy Max is the scariest monster of all, and rules the beasts as king… until he gets tired of it. (This title on amazon.)

2. Ramona the Pest (Hallowe’en chapter), by Beverly Cleary – Ages 5+

A chapter book, but you can read just the Hallowe’en chapter if you like. Ramona is determined to be the scariest witch in the kindergarten parade. (This title on amazon.)

3. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum – Ages 5+

Not strictly a Hallowe’en book, but full of witches and sundry scary beasts. (This title on amazon.)

4. The Witches, by Roald Dahl – Ages 6+

Getting a little older and a little braver here… a young boy and his grandma foil an entire witch convention. Pretty creepy – be sure to read the review. (This title on amazon.)

5. The Canterville Ghost, by Oscar Wilde – Ages 7+ (mostly for comprehension)

You can ‘class up’ Christmas by turning to Dickens, why not do the same with Oscar Wilde at Hallowe’en? A very funny story about a hapless ghost who finds the new family in his ancestral home is scarier than he is. (This title on amazon.)

MOVIES

1. Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie (2005) – Ages 3+ (according to Commonsense Media)

It ain’t great movie-making, being another Disney blot besmirching the true Pooh (a topic for another day!), but this is a fairly benign cartoon for very young viewers. Be aware though, that there is a pretty scary ‘Tree of Terror’. Roo and Lumpy, the youngest characters, overcome their fears to face the tree, which of course isn’t haunted after all.  For the very timid however, the tree may still be too scary… it might be best to wait until they’re older before you hit the Hallowe’en flicks! (This title on amazon.)

2. Meet Me in St. Louis (1945) – Hallowe’en scene – Ages 4+

The Hallowe’en sequence in this old musical is terrific. Be sure to read my review for the full description. A little girl screws up her courage to do something daring on Hallowe’en night and impresses all the big kids. (This title on amazon.)

3. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) – Ages 5+

A classic that we all love, and it isn’t at all scary, but be aware that it may fall flat for younger kids. My four-year-old didn’t like it at all because a) Lucy is mean, b) Sally misses trick or treating and c) yells a lot at Linus, and most of all, d) Charlie Brown gets rocks instead of candy!! (At what age does this injustice suddenly become funny? It probably varies from viewer to viewer.) In addition there’s a lot of bewildering sarcasm, insults, name-calling, etc. The Snoopy stuff she did like, but again, WWI references aren’t all that engaging for preschoolers. Moral dilemmas and the retention of optimism in an uncaring universe plays better to older viewers I guess. (This title via Instant Video on amazon.)

4. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) – Ages 5+

The 2nd half of this movie is perfect for Hallowe’en, retelling the classic story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. Great buildup and suspense, and the slapstick action mitigates the terror of the chase somewhat. (This title on amazon.)

5. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – Ages 7+

For the older viewers… It’s a Christmas movie, kind of, but really more of a Hallowe’en spooker. Visually stunning and chock-full of creepy but loveable characters. The main villain is pretty terrifying and gross, though, so be sure your audience really likes their ghouls and ghosties. (This title on amazon.)

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. dbcreads
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 14:54:35

    I loved Roald Dahl’s “The Witches”! Definitely an underrated one of his.And Ramona Quimby is certainly the series that made me laugh hardest as a kid.
    We at DBC|Reads did a special on Childrens/YA Halloween reads too! Feel free to take a look. http://dbcreads.com/2011/10/02/a-monstrous-month-week-one/

    Reply

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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