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October 12, 2010 October Book Picks! By Danielle Mahoney

    October is the perfect time to share a few spooky stories with your students. From a freaky fractured fairy tale and frighteningly funny poems to creepy counting stories and spine tingling rhyming books, my October booklist is sure to have a little something for everyone. Keep reading to find out more about a few of my favorite read-alouds for this time of year . . . if you dare!





     Miss Mahoney's October Book Picks!




     We’re Going on a Leaf Huntby Steve Metzger

    Getting kids up and moving during a read-aloud can help them stay focused while building comprehension. Have your students act out the book as the characters swoosh, slip, and row through the many different settings. Use it to teach students about how the shape of a leaf can tell you the type of tree it came from. There are also lots of position words used in the book that can help ELL children learn what it means to go OVER, THROUGH, and AROUND an object. Visit Steve Metzger's official Web site to find other great seasonal books and activities.





    Shake Dem Halloween Bones, by W. Nikola-Lisa

    Many years ago, I bought a copy of this book at a Scholastic warehouse sale for about 50 cents! I still have the original copy that has been taped up and put back together again and again after being held and read by so many of my students. Set in the city, this jazzy tale of famous fairy tale characters gets kids singing the chorus "Shake, shake, shake dem bones now." Beware: your students may ask you to read it again and again! W. Nikola-Lisa has some great storytelling tips on his blog that you may want to check out as well. 



    Happy Halloween, Stinky Faceby Lisa McCourt

    There is no mother more patient than Stinky Face’s mom! This book in Lisa McCourt's Stinky Face series deals with those “But what if" questions children always seem to come up with. Use this read-aloud to get your students talking about their own costume choices in small groups or in partnerships.





    A Day at the Pumpkin Patch, by Megan Faulkner

    This is a narrative nonfiction text that is filled with facts about pumpkins. Photographs of real kids at a pumpkin patch help make new vocabulary words like "harvest," "tendrils," and "peduncle" easy to understand. Don't miss the section at the end that includes a how-to lesson on making a jack-o'-lantern as well as a recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds. Yum!




    There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Bat! by Lucille Colandro

    A twist on the classic, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, this book will have kids laughing all the way through. Have students join in on the fun as they try to keep track of all the crazy things the old lady eats. A great resource for sequencing and retelling.






    Woo! The Not-So-Scary Ghost, by Ana Martín Larrañaga

    I LOVE the illustrations in this book. The simple shapes and bright colors will hold the attention of your students as they read about how Woo is fed up with having to listen to his parents. When he runs away and finds out that the world is sort of scary when you’re on your own, he realizes that home is where he needs to be. This book can be used as a mentor text in writing, as it is jam-packed with pictures that show the emotions of the character in addition to ellipses, transition words, a strong voice, and text that changes size for emphasis. 




    In the Haunted Houseby Eve Bunting

    Eve Bunting is one of my all time favorite authors. In this story, she describes the spooky experience of visiting a haunted house on Halloween. (It is actually quite scary!) Young writers can examine how she uses descriptive language to draw us right into the house. She balances out the spookiness with a conversation between two characters: a father and his daughter who are visiting this house on Halloween. 





    Cinderella Skeleton, by Robert D. San Souci 

    David Catrow’s illustrations make this fractured fairy tale a work of art. Your students will fall in love with Cinderella Skeleton as she loses her foot instead of a glass slipper. Try out some of these activities to use with this creepy version of the classic Cinderella tale. 







     Dinner With Dracula, A Spine-Tingling Collection of Frighteningly Funny Poems, edited by Bruce Lansky

    These "spooktacular" poems vary in length and difficulty and can be used across grades for shared reading. Have your readers visualize what they see as the authors describe some creepy (and funny) characters in their work. This collection of poetry may even inspire your students to create their own creepy poems!






    Spookyhour Spooky Hour, by Tony Mitton  

    Guy Parker-Rees' illustrations will make you smile as you turn the pages and read aloud this spooky counting book. The rhyming pattern is sure to make your students predict what will happen next as each character joins in on the Halloween fun. Have students reread the book in partnerships to practice fluency and expression.







    Scarecrowby Cynthia Rylant 

    I don't think I could ever create a booklist without including something written by Cynthia Rylant. I simply love her. Scarecrow can easily be used as a mentor text for writing throughout the year. You can introduce it now as a read-aloud and return to it again and again for all it has to offer. Each page overflows with beautiful language as the scarecrow patiently watches over the garden.






    Pumpkinblanket The Pumpkin Blanket, by Deborah Turney Zagwyn

    Upper grade students can do lots of inferring and character work with this beautifully written story, as the main character, Clee, learns to give up her baby blanket, piece by piece. Keeping the pumpkins safe from the frost isn't easy. This book can teach us all a little bit about sharing, sacrifices, responsibility, and letting go.






    The Ugly Pumpkin, by Dave Horowitz

    At first glance, this book may look like just another Halloween story. But, actually, it can be used to start setting up your plans for Thanksgiving! (YES, Thanksgiving!) As you read this book to your class, you'll quickly find out that it almost wasn’t a happy Thanksgiving for the Ugly Pumpkin. This rhythmical rhyming story does a fantastic job of teaching kids about how it feels to be teased. Your students will be rooting for the main character in no time. The surprise ending will have your students cheering, as the Ugly Pumpkin realizes that he’s not a pumpkin after all.




    First thanksgiving
    Speaking of Thanksgiving . . . I hope you've signed up to have free historical fiction letters emailed to you from Thanksgiving characters courtesy of Be sure to be a part of the live video Webcast from Plimoth Plantation on November 16th as well. The First Thanksgiving resources are fantastic. It feels like it's way too early to be thinking about Thanksgiving, right? But with all of the videos, Web quests, printables, photos, slide shows, activities, and teacher resources available on the site, you may want to get a jump-start on making the most of your lesson planning today! 


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