7 Not So Scary Halloween Books for Younger Readers.

Halloween can be great fun with costumes, trick or treating, Halloween parties and spooky stories but some children don’t like the scary aspects of Halloween so much. Here are 7 not so scary Halloween books for younger readers.

Cover of Ten Orange Pumpkins bookTen Orange Pumpkins by Stephen Savage

This Halloween themed counting book is perfect for younger readers. Count along as one by one, pumpkins disappear in spooky ways! The illustrations in this book are perfect, simple but with a solid Halloween vibe.

Orange pumpkin on deep blue backgroundHappy Halloween by Liesbet Slegers

Happy Halloween takes us through a fun Halloween day filled with many activities celebrated with friends and family, from pumpkin carving to making a Halloween present to trick or treating. This is a sweet not spooky story that would be great for little readers. The illustrations are bright and colourful and combined with the story, make a very cheerful Halloween book!

Haunted house with pumpkin and moonBoo! Haiku by Deanna Caswell and Bob Shea

Boo! Haiku is a fun Halloween read aloud book. Kids will enjoy guessing what each of the ten haikus is describing. The illustrations are cute, making this book sweet instead of scary, and the illustrations give clues for each haiku. Although this book would be wonderful for younger readers because it isn’t scary, it still has a Halloween vibe and it’s interesting enough that kids who are a bit older would enjoy it too. Great for introducing poetry!

Pookie pig with two jack o lanternsSpooky Pookie by Sandra Boynton

Follow Pookie as he searches for a costume in this sweet Halloween board book. A must have board book for all Sandra Boynton fans.

Peep and Egg chicksPeep and Egg I’m Not Trick or Treating by Laura Gehl, pictures by Joyce Wan

Peep and Egg are getting ready for Halloween but everything scares Egg and reminds him that he doesn’t want to go trick or treating. Peep decides to go trick or treating by themselves, but being left all alone is pretty scary for Egg! So they gather their courage to go trick or treating with Peep. This Halloween board book would be great for younger kids or any kids who are worried about going trick or treating.

Pug and Pig in skeleton Halloween costumesPug and Pig Trick or Treat by Sue Lowell Gallion and Joyce Wan

In this sweet Halloween book for younger readers, Pig and Pug are ready for Halloween with their costumes, scarecrows and pumpkins. Pig loves everything about her costume but Pug does not love his costume. Pig is sad because she wants someone to do all of the fun Halloween activities with. Pug doesn’t want to join in until he gets an idea for a new Halloween costume that he will love. This story is a great not so scary Halloween book. It’s also a great book to introduce the idea of compromises and the fact that it’s ok to like different things than your friends. This is probably my favourite book on the list. I really love pugs, and the illustrations by Joyce Wan are absolutely adorable! (She also illustrated Peep and Egg I’m Not Trick or Treating, above)

Emu and other Australian animlas in front of a full moonEmu’s Halloween written by Anne Morgan and illustrated by David Cornish.

Emu wants to make a scary Halloween party but isn’t sure what to do. His friends join in to make a spooky Halloween party. This Halloween book is a fun and not scary Halloween book. The story features different Australian animals like a Tasmanian devil and an echidna, neat for a book to feature more unusual animals that are not frequently shown in kid’s books. This book also makes an interesting way to talk about working together and making friends.



Children’s Books for Back to School Shopping

Daddy's Back to School Shopping Adventure

Daddy’s Back-to-School Shopping Adventure by Alan Lawrence Sitomer and illustrated by Abby Carter

Daddy’s Back-to-School Shopping Adventure is a sweet and heartwarming story about a family going to buy school supplies- that are on the list! Although the store has lots of fun things that Jake and Jenny would love to have, like trampolines and portable popcorn machines, Mommy and Daddy have a list to stick to. But when Daddy finds something he loves, he makes Jake and Jenny a deal that doesn’t include the list! This funny story will resonate with both parents and children, or anyone who has ever taken on back-to-school shopping!

Back to School Picky Little Witch

Back to School, Picky Little Witch by Elizabeth Brokamp and illustrated by Peter J. Welling

Back to School, Picky Little Witch is a book I would have loved to have as a child- I was a spooky little kid, loving everything Halloween like. In Back to School, Picky Little Witch, Picky Little Witch recives a special letter in the mail: her back to school shopping list! Mama Witch and Picky Little Witch head to the store to buy the things on the list, but Mama Witch and Picky Little Witch have very different styles and ideas! Over the course of their shopping trip they explore lots of different options and end up making compromises that leave both Mama Witch and Picky Little Witch happy. This is a great book to read to set expectations for a back to school shopping trip and to introduce or reinforce the idea of compromise.

Funny Back to School Books for Kids.

Whether you’re introducing a kindergarten student to their very first day of school, preparing your children to go back to school, or welcoming your students back to school, a funny story can be a good way to ease fears and make a child feel welcome in their school. Here are a couple of excellent funny back to school books for kids.

What the Dinosaurs Did at School by Refe and Susan Tuma

Cover of What the Dinosaurs Did at School

Follow the adventures of these plastic dinosaurs as they explore the school, creating chaos wherever they go! What the Dinosaurs Did at School by Refe and Susan Tuma is a fun and silly book that is great for any kid that is wild about dinosaurs! The photographs in this book are funny and exciting, with so many different things going on in each picture. From creating a mess out of food in the cafeteria to causing a creative disaster in the art room, these dinosaurs will keep you entertained throughout the whole book- and the whole school!

Milk Goes to School by Terry Border

Cover of Milk Goes to School

Milk Goes to School is an entertaining read that is full of word play. This picture book is full of fun puns and great photos that show the adventures of Milk, Cupcake, Waffle and other friends on the first day of school. I loved that this book was a bit of a cautionary tale on acting snotty towards kids at school- Milk has an attitude towards her classmates, but comes around and learns her lesson, and learns how to make friends. This is wonderful book to read in a family with younger and older kids- the puns will entertain even the older kids and they can have fun finding and pointing out the silly details in the photos- like “Pride and Pickle Juice” It’s also a fun read for adults!





Book News of the Week August 20-26th

Grandma Forgets: The picture book that helps families cope with pathos of dementia. Via The Guardian. Children’s’ books can be a very effective way of gently introducing difficult topics that come up.

Book chariot turns heads in Port Coquitlam. Via Tri-City News. 

Beyoncé releasing $300 coffee table book about her album Lemonade. Via CBC. This is definitely one book that is way out of my price range.

Girls in the kitchen? Portugal yanks books over stereotypes. Via Times Colonist. While there is nothing wrong with girls liking pink or enjoying cooking in the kitchen, they need to be shown that there are a variety of many different options for them to choose from.

School’s First Day of School Book Review

School’s First Day of School– story by Adam Rex and pictures by Christian Robinson

Book cover of School's First Day of School

School’s First Day of School is a creative back to school book written in a unique perspective- the school building itself! School is built over the summer, and enjoys janitor coming each day to get school ready. But will he enjoy the experience of having the teachers and children arriving and spending all day in him?

Christian Robinson’s illustrations are simple, warm and inviting. His illustrations shows many differences in the children- some come to school by car, by walking, by bicycle, or by school bus. They come in a rainbow of hues. I really appreciated the illustration of a child in a wheelchair- it can be very difficult to find books that are inclusive and this book gives a wonderful sense of inclusivity and belonging. This would be a great book for children who are nervous to begin their first day of school or who are starting at a new school.

School’s First Day of School would make a wonderful book for reading aloud, especially to a kindergarten class to welcome them on their very first day of school.  Adam Rex really shows the personality of the school by writing his thoughts and his conversations with the janitor. I really enjoyed the fact that the negative thoughts of the children and the school are shown as well as the positive thoughts. Even though there can be bad parts to school, overall it is a wonderful experience to come together, learn and make new friends. School’s First Day of School is a fabulous picture book for back to school.



Book News of the Week August 6-12

Book best friends: Library offering therapy dogs to encourage young readers. Via CBC. My local library does this and it’s such a wonderful program. It gives kids a chance to practice reading aloud without judgement.

Not just kids’ stuff: Kat Rosenfield, The Black Witch, and the controversy that gripped “YA Twitter”. Via The Globe and Mail. 

Kids’ books that inspire healthy eating- without sounding like lessons. Via Washington Post.

New Goodbye Christopher Robin trailer takes a look at Winnie the Pooh’s creator. Via time.  I can not wait to see this movie! Very excited for October.

Book review: “Wild Things” dives into kids’ literature. Via The Columbus Dispatch.

Mr. Benjamin’s Suitcase of Secrets Book Review

Mr. Benjamin’s Suitcase of Secrets by Pei-Yu Chang

Mr. Benjamin and his suitcase of secrets

Mr. Benjamin’s Suitcase of Secrets is a picture book about a German philosopher named Mr. Benjamin. When his country  starts punishing people for having different ideas, he goes to see a woman named Mrs. Fittko who knows many secret passageways. Mrs. Fittko works to take people who are different over the border to the neighbouring country so that they do not get punished. Although the people who are escaping are told to pack lightly, Mr. Benjamin arrives with a large suitcase and insists on carrying it over the mountains. When Mr. Benjamin is turned away at the border, he disappears along with his suitcase. Everyone wonders about the contents of the suitcase and everyone has a different theory.

Mr. Benjamin carrying his large suitcase

Mr. Benjamin’s Suitcase of secrets is based on the real Walter Benjamin, a German author and philosopher who attempted to escape the Nazis in Germany during the Second World War Mrs. Fittko was also a real person, an Austrian name Lisa Fittko who was estimated to have helped 80,000 people who would have been persecuted into freedom.



Soldiers and people being arrested.

This is such an important book, especially in light of current events, it’s beautifully written and illustrated, and helps to explain a very difficult subject in a way that will make children understand without making them fearful and afraid. Including the character of Mrs. Fittko shows children the importance of standing up for and helping others.


Mrs. Fittko walking up a gangplank.

The illustrations are wonderful, managing to be whimsical while still meshing with the story.  The layered look of the illustrations makes the book  come to life. Mr. Benjamin’s Suitcase of Secrets is a touching and moving story that would make a great starting point for a conversation about differences, helping others, World War Two or current events.

Mr. Benjamin's hat and wand on a blue chair.


Board Game Review: Mermaid Island

Cover of Mermaid Island board game

I was recently playing a game of Candyland with my youngest niece, who is 5. As her older sister and I both passed her on the board, she got more and more upset, before deciding that she was all done and angrily started putting the game away. Although learning to lose gracefully is a skill that is important for children to learn, it is also important for them to have fun activities that they can complete to feel a sense of skill and accomplishment.

Game board of Mermaid Island

As I was looking for a game that would be fun for her to play, I came across Mermaid Island. Mermaid Island is a board game created by Peaceable Kingdom, a company that makes several co-operative games. The difference between co-operative games and most other board games is that in a co-operative board game like Mermaid Island, the players are all working together to win. So instead of having one winner and one or more losers at the end of the game, the game ends with everyone either succeeding together or failing together.

Three mermaid game tokens

The point of Mermaid Island is to get three mermaids to the island before the Sea Witch gets there. There are 3 star wands that players can use to move the Sea Witch back a space, but careful- if the Sea Witch gets to the star wands first they can’t be used. Although players take turn spinning the spinner to see how many spaces they can move, they decide together when to see the star wands and can decide together which mermaid to move on each turn.

Sea Witch game tokenIt took my niece a couple of minutes to get used to the idea that we were not competing against each other, but one she did she really enjoyed playing together- none of the upset and stress of competition.

I really enjoyed this game, as an adult it can be hard to find games that kids like but that don’t bore adults to tears (I’m looking at you, Candy Land!). I enjoyed that I did not have to try not to win, in order to keep my niece happy and interested in the game. One of my favourite things about this game is that the instructions were printed on the inside of the lid. Why doesn’t every board game company do this?!? Goodbye to the frustration of lost instructions.

If you’re looking for a fun and non mind numbing game to play with kids 5 and up I highly recommend checking out Mermaid Island, perfectly themed for some summer fun!



The Year of the Garden Book Review

The Year of the Garden book cover

The Year of the Garden is written by Andrea Cheng and illustrated by Patrice Barton. The Year of the Garden follows Anna as she moves into a new house, makes a new friend and creates a garden over the course of a year. Inspired by reading the Secret Garden, Anna imagines creating a wonderful garden.

Cheng’s characters are very well written, detailed and interesting enough to make you want to know more about them. I like that the group of characters is multi-generational and diverse. Anna is Chinese-American and her heritage is shown through language, food and traditions shown in the book.

This is a great beginner chapter book with easy to follow writing that will still keep kid’s interest. It would also be a great book to read for back to school, as it deals with making new friends and fitting in. The Year of the Garden is a prequel to The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng and illustrated by Abigail Halpin, which I’m going to have to add to my TBR list!