Several storytime bloggers have lauded the benefits of planning a monsters storytime for Halloween, and I heartily support that idea. There are some fantastic monster books available that made this a really fun storytime. I implemented this program at my library and our local Head Start, and it was very effective in both settings. I did vary some books and activities between the two settings, and I have described those modifications below.
Opening: “Hello Friends” (with sign language)
Book: Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
I have heard some people describe this book as one of Mo Willems weakest titles, but I strongly disagree. I LOVE this book, and my audiences did too. Sam’s meltdown speech is so much fun. I practiced that spread several times in advance so that I could read it aloud at warp speed, and I had the adults cracking up as much as the kids. When I finished that speech, one little boy remarked, “That’s a lot of words.”
Book and song: If You’re a Monster and You Know It by Rebecca & Ed Emberley
“If You’re Happy and You Know It” is, in my opinion, one of the greatest children’s songs ever written. Throw monsters into that great song, and it becomes an instant classic. My Head Start kids, in particular, loved this book. They were roaring, stomping, and growling with the best of them.
Book: The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone
Before I started reading this book, I asked the kids if they were familiar with Sesame Street. I was surprised that those who knew about Sesame Street were usually in the minority. However, several adults got very excited when I pulled this book out. It was a favorite from their childhoods, and they enjoyed seeing it again. And, even though the kids were not familiar with Sesame Street, they still got a big kick out of this book. It is so easy to ham up this story and be over-the-top dramatic. But be warned! If you read this book seven times in one morning and really try to capture Grover’s voice, you may not be able to talk afterward. Fortunately, my voice survived, but I really thought I wasn’t going to be able to speak by the following morning.
Book and flannel: Tickle Monster by Édouard Manceau
This is a really easy flannel to make, but I was a little concerned about how the kids would receive it. This is not a particularly exciting book, and it takes me awhile to set up the monster to get started. I was worried that I would lose the kids’ interest. However, I underestimated my audiences. They LOVED this story, and they were absolutely fascinated by the flannels. You would think that a generation of children who have smartphones and tablets would be bored stiff by my sad little flannel pieces, but they were entranced.
Action rhyme: “Five Little Monsters Jumping on the Bed”
Credit: Sunflower Storytime (the free monster printables are linked on this blog post)
FIVE little monsters jumping on the bed (everyone jumps)
One fell off and bumped his head; (point to head)
Mama called the doctor, and the doctor said: (make pretend phone with hand)
No more monsters jumping on the bed. (shake finger)
FOUR little monsters jumping on the bed…..
THREE little monsters jumping on the bed…..
TWO little monsters jumping on the bed…..
ONE little monster jumping on the bed
He fell off and bumped his head;
Mama called the doctor, and the doctor said:
No more monsters jumping on the bed! (everyone falls down to ground)
Head Start Option
Book: Monster Trouble! by Lane Frederickson
This book seems very reminiscent of Monsters, Inc., and I love it. I needed one more monster title to fill out this storytime, and I found this great book in my library’s collection. Very cute story with a fun ending that usually gets some giggles.
Song: “Sticky Bubblegum”
Credit: Jbrary (modifications by me)
Sticky, sticky bubblegum, bubblegum, bubblegum
Sticky, sticky, sticky bubblegum
Sticking your hands to your head.
Sticking your hands to your shoulders, feet, knees, face, tummy.
This song has absolutely nothing to do with my theme, but I threw it in on the spur of the moment at Head Start when the other song that I had planned didn’t work out. “Sticky Bubblegum” has been a hit at the library, and the Head Start kids loved it as well.
Book: Pumpkin Trouble by Jan Thomas
Every time I read a new Jan Thomas book, it makes me want to do a Jan-Thomas-themed storytime. I love her sense of humor. This book may be a bit of a stretch on the Monster theme, but they do refer to a Pumpkin Monster in this story so I think it fits.
Craft: Monster Puppets
I have TONS of small paper bags in my stash, so I love any craft that lets me use some of those up. This craft was really easy to implement because I already had some yarn cut up from a previous storytime. I just gave the kids some markers, eyeballs, and yarn, and they took off. There is really no wrong way to make these monsters, so this craft was perfect for a wide age range.
Originally, I planned this storytime for my library audience, but when I got a last-minute invitation to read at Head Start, I adapted this plan to fit. The first part of my outline was the same at both locations, but I used Monster Trouble and “Sticky Bubblegum” at Head Start in place of Pumpkin Trouble and the craft. The format at Head Start was interesting. They have seven classes at this location, and throughout the morning, I rotated between these classrooms and did my whole program for each group. So, all told, I read each of the books and sang each song seven times in one morning. It sounds like a lot now, but the kids had so much fun that they made my job easy. They laughed at all of my stories and sang along on every song very enthusiastically. My schoolyear storytime crowd at the library tends to be rather shy and timid, so an engaged and excited audience was very affirming and encouraging for me. This was my first classroom visit to Head Start, but now I have been invited to come every other month for a storytime program, which I am really looking forward to.
After the noise and laughter at Head Start, my library group seemed especially quiet. However, we still had a good time with this program. I love every one of these books I selected, and that makes the program so fun for me to perform. My library kids really loved Leonardo and Tickle Monster, and the craft was a hit. I have a wide age range, but this craft is very open to interpretation, so everyone can participate and create however they want.