All posts in the Holidays category

Dracula and other Vampire Stories, by Eric Kudalis

Published October 23, 2014 by Dagmar

DraculaWe are approaching Halloween, and it’s time to find great read alouds for my classes.

This book absolutely grabbed my 4th and 5th graders’ attention this week.  I think lots of my students had heard of Dracula but never actually knew the story.  They were surprised that Transylvania really exists and had lots of questions about vampires, including whether they are real.  (Thank you, Twilight.)

This book recounts the Dracula story from the classic 1931 black and white film.  The next chapters include: a short biography of Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula; superstitions about vampires; the stories of the real Vlad Dracula and another ruler of  Transylvania, Countess Bathory (gruesome by the way); Vampires in Books and Films; and Vampire Bats.

I only read Chapter 1, the story of Dracula to my classes.  It was just the right length read aloud, about 10 minutes.  You could have heard a pin drop while I was reading.  My students loved it.  Several students asked if they could check out the book after I read it to them.

There is nothing like a good vampire story to get your older students ready for Halloween!  Enjoy.



In November, by Cynthia Rylant

Published October 17, 2014 by Dagmar

In NovemberThis is a very peaceful book about the changing seasons and the coming of winter.  Beautiful illustrations by Jill Kastner are a great accompaniment to Cynthia Rylant’s words.

“In November, the earth is growing quiet.  It is making its bed, a winter bed for flowers and small creatures.”  “In November, some birds move away and some birds stay.”  “In November, the smell of food is different.  It is an orange smell.  A squash and a pumpkin smell.”

The story talks about the animals, birds, trees and finally ends with a family joining in a special meal, presumably Thanksgiving.  This is a wonderful book to share with your younger students as Thanksgiving approaches.

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, by Linda Williams

Published October 17, 2014 by Dagmar

The Little Old LadyHere’s a fun read for your younger Halloween fans.  This book is a perennial favorite at my school.  I  usually read it with kindergarten, pre-k and 1st grade students around Halloween and love to have them join in with me as I read.

There once was a little old lady who wasn’t afraid of anything.  As she walks in the woods, she is followed, first by shoes that go CLOMP, CLOMP.  Then, she is followed by pants that go WIGGLE WIGGLE, a shirt that goes SHAKE SHAKE.  Each time, she turns and says “Get out of my way, I’m not afraid of you!”.  When she gets home, who should knock on the door, but the shoes, pants, shirt and a pumpkin head all trying to scare her.  When she says she’s not afraid, the pumpkin head looks so sad that she comes up with a great way for him to scare someone. Read the book to find out how!

Happy Halloween!


Over the River and Through the Wood, by Lydia Maria Child

Published November 28, 2012 by Dagmar

A timeless classic with beautiful woodcut illustrations by Christopher Manson.  Perfect for a Thanksgiving holiday read for younger students.  My students love to sing it with me (even if they don’t know all the words). 😉


Lucy Dove, by Janice Del Negro

Published November 17, 2012 by Dagmar

lucydoveLucy Dove is terrific read aloud for 3rd-5th graders that will keep even those who think they’re too old for read aloud hanging on your every word.  I love the illustrations, especially when I turn the page and students see the picture of the bogle.

Synopsis: A superstitious laird hears that he’ll find good luck if someone can sew a pair of trousers in the moonlight in the graveyard at St. Andrew’s church.  Many men have gone to the graveyard at night and have disappeared.  Lucy Dove is an old seamstress who was fired from the laird household, because she stitches too slowly.  She wants to win that bag of gold, so that she can buy herself a house by the sea for her retirement.  She bastes together cloth into a pair of trousers and goes to the churchyard at midnight to sew the pieces together.  The monster (bogle) that appears in the moonlight is, indeed, scary and threatening.  But Lucy, in her very cool manner, lets him know that he’s no big deal.  The story ends in an exciting chase scene.

The Widow’s Broom, by Chris Van Allsburg

Published November 15, 2012 by Dagmar

widowsbroomMy favorite Halloween book for older listeners comes from one of my favorite children’s authors, Chris Van Allsburg.  Like all of his books, The Widow’s Broom has wonderfully detailed sepia illustrations.  There are magical elements and sufficient “scariness” for 3rd and 4th graders to really enjoy the book.

Synopsis: A witch falls out of the sky when her broom wears out.  She leaves with another witch but leaves her old broom behind.  The Widow Shaw inherits the broom and finds it to be very useful.  Not only does it sweep (it’s favorite activity), but it also chops wood, fetches water and plays piano.  Neighborhood children tease it as it’s sweeping.  The broom makes short work of their dog (flinging it into a tree) and scares the children.  When the neighbors hear about the broom, they tell Minna Shaw that it is evil.  She and the broom hatch a scheme that sends the neighbors away and leaves them in peace.

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara

Published November 15, 2012 by Dagmar

ghostsinthehouseAnother Halloween favorite for very young listeners.  Ghosts in the House is sweet and funny with simple illustrations.
Synopsis: A girl moves into a house that’s haunted.  That’s no problem, because she is a witch and likes ghosts.  In fact, she finds them very useful.  After throwing them into the washing machine and hanging them out to dry, her ghosts become curtains, a tablecloth and finally blankets for she and her cat.

Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson

Published November 15, 2012 by Dagmar

roomonthebroomWhile I’m still remembering my Halloween read alouds, I want to mention one of my favorites.  Room on the Broom combines great rhyming with enough repetition to keep even the youngest listener engaged.  The illustrations, by Alex Scheffler, are great and the story funny and sweet.  I read this to my pre-k and K classes.
Synopsis: A witch is flying on her broomstick with her cat and drops her hat.  A dog finds it but asks, “Is there room on the broom for me?”.  As the story progresses, the witch drops a stunning number of things and gives a ride to many different creatures.  When the witch’s broom snaps in half, all her passengers fall into a bog.  She flies into a cloud, only to meet a fierce dragon who wants to eat her.  All of her animal friends gather themselves together.  Covered with bog slime and stacked one on top of the other, they look so fearsome, they scare the dragon away.  Left without a broom, the witch and her friends make a brew and create a spectacular new broomstick with room for everyone.