From the looks of my living room mantle, it is officially Halloween decorating time! I take holiday decorating way more seriously than I should, and one of my favorite pieces is this poster of an old photograph or women dressed as witches. Putting it on display inspired me to gather some of my favorite Halloween tales with a witchy theme.
Only a Witch Can Fly by Alison McGhee and Taeeun Yoo
This artful story features a young witch who yearns to take her first flight but learns that flying isn't always easy. The pictures have a wood-blocked quality and a seasonal color palette of black, orange, and green, creating a very Halloween mood. The words to this tale are written in a poetic form called a sestina. In this form, certain lines are repeated throughout the poem. But don't let that turn you off thinking poetic forms are too much for a children's book. The rhyming lines of this story are wonderfully engaging for young readers. ages: 3+
Old Black Witch! and Old Black Witch and the Polka Dot Ribbon by Wende and Harry Devlin
Wende and Harry Devlin were artists and writers of children's books in the 1950s, and their Old Black Witch series was incredibly popular. I am embarrassed to say that I didn't know about the Devlins until a few months ago. Since discovering them for myself, I have collected as many of their books as I can! We read Old Black Witch last week, and it passed the test of entertaining both my older child and toddler, although it was almost too wordy for my three year old. It is the story of a mother and son who want to open a tea room in a charming New England town. They buy an old, run-down house as a fixer-upper. When they start cleaning, they find an little witch lives there, and she's not too happy to see them get rid of her cobwebs and rats. In the end, everyone learns to work together and live peacefully under one roof, and Old Black Witch even cooks her famous blueberry pancakes for tea room guests. ages: 4+ (my 3 year old did sit through most of it and was interested in the story, but got restless towards the end.)
Humbug Witch by Lorna Balian
This is a classic and sweet story written in the 1960s about a little girl parading through the house in her witch costume, doing her best to conjure up some potions and magic. Preschooler readers will love this! ages: 2-5
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Julia Donaldson is the wonderful creator of The Gruffalo character. He books are always playful rhyming romps that kids go crazy for. Room on the Broom is no exception. A witch keeps losing her hat while flying on her broom. Every time she lands to retrieve it, another animal friend asks for a lift on her broomstick. By the end of the flight, the broomstick is loaded with all of her animal friends. ages: 3+
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Spear
Most of my witchy list has appealed to a younger audience, so here is one for the YA lovers (upper elementary and beyond). This Newbery award winner is the story of a young girl named Kit living in Colonial America during the time of the witch trials. Kit is an outsider in her village, and she befriends a fellow outsider named Hannah. When Hannah is accused of witchcraft, Kit must choose between her only friend and her own safety. This story can get intense, so this is definitely a book I would save for fourth graders and up. It is so worth it though! Not only does is teach the reader about a time in our country's history, but it is a story that explores themes of morality, diversity, and strength of character. ages: 10+
Only 24 more days until Halloween! Better get your broomsticks ready.