Photo credit: Pilkey.com

Yesterday I kept a room of 22 costumed 2nd graders in my daughter’s class transfixed for a whole ten minutes.

And this was after their school Halloween parade and after they’d exhausted all the games we’d planned for the in-room party and while they were eating cupcakes, grapes, and caramel-dipped apple slices. (Well, I guess the cupcakes helped keep their mouths a little occupied.)

Such is the power of a good children’s picture book–there were several parents that even stopped cleaning up tables to listen and look at the pictures. I had stashed two Halloween books in my bag in case the party became a little chaotic and I needed something to calm the (literally!) little monsters:)  Sure enough the party activities went much faster than planned so I pulled out my book, hoping for the best.

While I’d love to claim this ten minutes of bliss was entirely due to my brilliant reading–I owe the few moments of calm entirely to Dav Pilkey (yes, the man behind Captain Underpants) and the author and illustrator of The Hallo-wiener. Thank you!

Hallo-wiener tells the tale of Oscar, a dachshund, who’s constantly teased by the other dogs for his hotdog-esque appearance. The 2nd graders immediately related to Oscar, especially when the little dog didn’t want to hurt his mom’s feelings and ended up wearing a hot dog costume for Halloween. Eventually, Oscar saves the other dogs from embarrassment at the hands–er, paws–of two “ornery” cats. His nickname, “Wiener Dog,” replaced with “Hero Sandwich.” (You’re tearing up too, right?)

The whole experience got me thinking about what favorite Halloween books to read to kids. I’ve asked a few friends to contribute their favorites. I suggest curling up with your little witch/hippie/punk princess/construction worker/SWAT team member/angel, grab some candies and read some of these books together.

Photo credit: Amazon.com

Latisha S. is keeping two ninjas and a vampire happy reading Popcorn by Frank Asch. About a little bear that ends up filling his house with, you guessed it–popcorn, while his parents are at a Halloween party. I have to wonder if this one was inspired by true events.

Kimberly M.’s family, who is dressing up as the gang from Disney’s Princess and the Frog, has several favorites, including

Photo credit: Chronicle Books

Frank was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance by Keith Graves tells the story of a zombie who wants nothing more than to dance. But his Frankenstein-like body can’t quite keep up with his moves.

In Piggie Pie by Margie Palatini, Gritch the Witch heads off to Old MacDonald’s farm to dine on a few piggies. But the pigs knew she was coming and donned sheep outfits and other disguises.

CinderHazel by Deborah Nourse Lattimore is a quirky retelling of the familiar princess story, only this time she’s a witch. And Prince Charming–that would be Prince Alarming.

Do you have a favorite Halloween book to share? What about your favorite Halloween candy? (You know, the other 364 days of the year, Twix candies hold no appeal, but on Halloween, I, uh, well, tend to eat my fill, and then some.)

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