It’s time to bob for apples and carve pumpkins, because Halloween is almost upon us and we can’t wait! On Halloween, we all get to be kids again. And yes, we do mean eating excessive amounts of candy and shamelessly watching Halloween specials with face paint on and a half-empty bag of fun sized Snickers in our laps. But let’s be honest, Halloween is a kid’s domain. We can visit, sure—but they own that ish. That being said, Halloween can be an overwhelming and scary adventure for little ones, so sit them down with one of these fearless sheros before they give trick-or-treating a miss.
Junie B. Jones, Barbara Park’s beloved kindergartner, is afraid of Halloween, and we totally get it. “Cause what if witches and monsters are really real? And what if pumpkins with sharp teeth can eat your feet?” And don’t even get her started on the candy corn problem. And it doesn’t help she’s got a boy at school filling her head with scary stories. But you know why we love Junie B.? Because she doesn’t go for that drama. Instead, she comes up with a creepy costume that’ll scare kids “out of their pants,” thus solving her Halloween dilemma.
This is a very fun read-aloud with lots of CLOMP CLOMP clomping, and some shimmying and shaking to boot. Our protagonist is a very brave old lady (and who doesn’t love that) who heads out into the woods to forage some herbs, seeds, and spices, and on her way home begins to be followed by some spooky characters. Our favorite part? When she turns and yells, “I’m not afraid of you!” Even when she definitely is, but because she’s a boss she puts on a brave face.
Ben Hatke isn’t unfamiliar with writing about strong young female characters—his comic series Zita The Spacegirl is bursting with girl power — and Julia and her house full of monsters is no exception. Why is her house full of monsters? Because she invited them! Julia doesn’t like how quiet her new neighborhood is, so she invites in some chaos to spice things up. Not strictly a Halloween story—but definitely a ghoulishly wonderful one.
4. Ghost Wings
Okay, so this one isn’t spooky, and it’s not about Halloween at all — but it’s still a must-read this month. The story takes place during the days of the dead in Mexico and the annual migration of Monarch Butterflies. This beautiful narrative about tradition, family, and loss, written by Barbara M. Joosse and illustrated by Giselle Potter, creates a gentle approach to grief that isn’t often available to young children. The days of the dead are often cartoon-ised in children’s books and movies, but this story gives it a very real and special meaning.
Easily one of our favorite spooky tales, largely due to the protagonist being a badass female full of angst and curiosity. Coraline’s curiosity sends her on a deliciously dark tale in which she comes across an alternate world through a secret passageway where her “parents” are very cool, despite their creepy button eyes — that is until they want to keep her forever. So, with the help of her aloof cat, she must escape her monstrous kidnappers and save her real parents. This is a good one for kids or adults, but it can get creepy so we would say 8 years or older unless you’ve got a super chill child. Overall, this one preaches the importance of bravery and selflessness, and we love that even more than we love Coraline’s emo style. (Which we love a lot.)
We’d love to hear what you’re reading with your little feminists this October, so leave a comment and share with friends who also have rad kids.
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