We have a large collection of Halloween books in our library. It's so big, in fact, I can even come up with themes within the collection: personal narrative Halloween stories, alphabet Halloween stories, Halloween stories about families, Halloween stories that are not scary (last week's post), and Halloween stories that ARE scary (next week's post!)
Here are six Halloween counting stories. These are all good for the preschool age and up to about grade 3.
I saved my favorite for last.
In the comments: What's your favorite Halloween treat?
Six Creepy Sheep, by Judith Ross Enderle and Stephanie Gordon Tessler
Six creepy sheep decide to go trick-or-treating, but as they meet various costumed groups along the way, they disappear one by one. Tongue-twisting rhymes make this a good read-aloud, and the line ink illustrations have a spooky Edward Gorey feel. This would be a fun way to introduce some collective nouns such as "gaggle" (of goblins) "warren" (of witches), herd, flock, and "passel" (of pirates).
The Thirteen Hours of Halloween, by Dian Curtis Regan
This is a silly take-off on the song "Partridge in a Pear Tree." As each hour of Halloween approaches, a young girl receives a number of spooky gifts from her family members: "a vulture in a dead tree, two pumpkins carved, three fat bats, four witches' cats, five ghasssssstly ghosts!" This makes a fun sing-along if the words are posted and is a great memory exercise as each verse repeats the gifts from before. The colored pencil illustrations show lots of movement and picture each item for counting purposes.
On Halloween Night, by Ferida Wolff and Dolores Kozielski
On Halloween night, we count up all of the various creatures who are awake: one witch, two cats, three owls, and on up to thirteen ghosts. Written in free verse, each verse ending in a ghostly "oo-oo-oo-ooh", this makes a good rhythmic read-aloud. Since most of the creatures are forest animals, this would also be good to tie into a unit about nocturnal animals. At the end, we realize that the white streaks of translucent light that have floated through each picture are the thirteen ghosts who appear on the final page. The illustrations in muted watercolors capture the atmosphere of a cold evening.
Five Little Goblins, by Lark Carrier
This small book on card stock pages counts up what five little goblins (kids dressed up) see of a witch on Halloween night. Each one spies a different part of her: first, a broom; second, purple feet; and so on. As each part is revealed, cut-away pages show a bit more of her and the children hiding behind trees. Finally we see all of her on the last page. We've been nervous to see if she'll be a scary witch or a friendly witch.
The best part of this small quick read is the book's design: the increasingly narrow pages lead us closer and closer to the witch!
10 Trick or Treaters, by Janet Schulman
A cartoony group of ten trick-or-treaters sets out for some Halloween fun, but they gradually get scared off and leave. A familiar rhyming pattern helps children anticipate the next number down making this an engaging read-aloud for youngsters. For example: "9 trick-or-treaters, the night was getting late. A toad hopped near and then there were....8" The strength of this short story is the illustrations which show costumed children full of lots of smiles, having fun, and getting plenty of candy. Even the spooky creatures like bats are smiling! The final page invites readers to count up different types of candy; don't we all love to sort and count our Halloween candy?
One Witch, by Laura Leuck
A creepy counting book! One witch on a hill is planning to throw a party for all of her gruesome friends. We count along as her friends each give items to make a stew: "nine skeletons on a stone gave the witch a finger bone..."
After the concoction is cooked, she sends out invitations so we get to see them again in different settings: "four goblins in their holes, three scarecrows on their poles..." The best part of this story is the surprise ending because guess who else is invited to the party?
Two strengths here: highly detailed ink and watercolor illustrations show some of the creepiest Halloween creatures in their natural settings and the word choice of the rhyming text. It's a smooth and satisfying read-aloud that ends with a shock!