One of the best ways to set the tone for the season or an upcoming holiday is with seasonal books. I’m a big supporter of evening family reading, and holiday books are great for this because they get everyone in a common spirit of the season and emphasize the kind of family time the holidays are all about (or should be!). Our family room coffee table becomes a display for holiday books arranged in a fan, easily accessible for a quick read when the mood strikes. The content varies according to the season, beginning with Halloween and ending with Christmas…or whenever Christmas gets put away, which is often some time in March.
Our Halloween book collection is one of the best-loved holiday book collections in our family. I’m going to talk about my top three here, not all of which are still in print. My hope is that you’ll see what is valuable and gender fair about each of them and you can apply that to developing your own family’s collection. But, even the out of print books can be found on Amazon and eBay (they’re all available in the Fair Play Amazon Associates store).
So, here they are, my top three, in no particular order.
Daddy Long Ears Halloween
This is a story about a family of bunnies preparing for Halloween. The youngest bunny ends up staying home sick from trick-or-treating while his siblings go out. This book is popular in our family perhaps primarily because my mom calls us all “bunnies” and this book is about a large family of bunnies. But, the lessons are deeper than that. I like this book because it is a good example of a positive father figure and caring older brothers. So many images of dads in the media are as bumbling fools “playing” at childcare. It is rare to see competent fathers and older brothers playing nurturing family roles.
The evil witch trope is overdone and frankly, anti-feminist. Woggle of Witches is just the opposite. A group of fun-loving wart-less witches live together in the woods, sleep in cool-looking hammocks, and go on nighttime joy rides. They enjoy themselves. They ring around the moon and make clever formations in the sky. They are not ugly (and not the opposite, these are not sexualized witches either). And, they don’t harass children – in fact, they’re wary of the trick-or-treaters they see. I love this book for celebrating the fun these witches have in sharing each other’s company. Moreover, the illustrations are lovely and captivating.
The Vanishing Pumpkin
This is a story about a very old couple (700 and 800 years) who wake up Halloween morning planning to make pie but as it turns out, their pumpkin has gone missing. They search for it, and ask all sorts of creatures if they have seen it. Those creatures join the search, to help, and perhaps also to get some pie if they ever find the pumpkin. Eventually they find the pumpkin has been carved into a jack-o-lantern by a very old wizard (900 years) but he made them a pie in exchange. First, there are very few stories about older people that are not ageist. This couple wants to make pie and they go on quite the adventure to search for it. They are sharp and agentic. Second, the narrative has a great rhythm, making it very fun to read. This might be the #1 most read Halloween book in our collection. I do, however, credit this book for my nearly life-long misconception that pie was made from the insides of the pumpkin and not the flesh. I thought we should make pie after we carved our jack-o-lanterns. Instead we roasted seeds, which I suppose was much healthier, and still tasty.
Those are just three of my favorites from a set we read every year. What are yours? Holiday story collections are wonderful for fostering tradition and a love of family…and books! Happy Halloween, everybody.
(Originally posted October 14, 2012)
Trick or Treat is our annual Halloween series. Last year we blogged about the Fair Play strategy for costumes, these recommendations for books, and seasonal movies. This year we’re re-posting those and adding some Halloween crafts and treats. Stay tuned! Have a specific request? Let us know here or on Facebook.