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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Slightly spooky books are fun now -- and later

October 30, 2009

I'm the kind of adult who does not (emphasize not) like scary movies. I stopped reading scary books after I read a Stephen King novel that gave me nightmares.

So if you like the type of books that give you major creeps, then don't bother reading any more. But if you're up for not-too-creepy books to share with the children in your lives, you may find an idea or so here.

The Amelia Bedelia of the poultry world, the little white hen is back for an autumn tale. Here, Minerva Louise interprets the fall celebrations with her own literal spin in Minerva Louise on Halloween (Dutton). Loveable but not very bright Minerva always allows young children to stay one step ahead.

When a big bad Bullybug comes from outer space to terrorize "itty-bitty baby bugs," well, let's just leave it that something larger — maybe child-sized — saves the day (and the smaller bugs). Bye-Bye, Big Bad Bullybug! (Little Brown) cleverly uses page cut-outs to build the Bullybug — then get rid of it.

When the "wind whispers winter" it becomes time to decide what to be on that special night at the end of October. And Then Comes Halloween (Candlewick) culminates the change of season with costume preparation and candy collecting on that night. Poetic language builds excitement as the day grows closer.

Remember the old folksong, "Over in the Meadow?" It's been Halloween-ized in a recent book, Over in the Hollow (Chronicle). In this version, there are skeletons that boogie, ghosts that boo and more — all rhythmically and playfully depicted.

And finally for slightly older readers (those learning to read independently), there's The History of Vampires and Other Real Blood Drinkers (Grosset & Dunlap). Each short chapter is liberally and comically illustrated and attempts to differentiate fact from fiction.

So, there you have it: not-very-scary books especially appropriate for this time of year — but good enough to continue sharing.

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"Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!" — A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1943