Friday, October 05, 2012

Halloween poetry

It's October and I hope to get my Halloween decorations out this weekend. I just love the big, round pumpkins and even the jangling skeletons and spooky black cats. But mostly, I have always loved planning the costumes for trick-or-treating and had so much fun helping my kids create whatever they could imagine-- my daughter has been a pioneer girl, a flapper, Jane Austen, Princess Leia, and an elephant (a two-person endeavor with a friend) and my son has been Luke Skywalker, a vampire, a hobo, a Ninja Turtle, and various X-Men. We would work all month to decide on our "character" and make the outfit ourselves. Good times! I don't have many occasions for costumes nowadays (although I do like wearing my crazy colored tights any day!), but I love seeing the children in their costumes when they come to trick or treat at my door.

I know Halloween is a bit more problematic these days, particularly in the schools, with a shift to focusing on "harvest festivals" or autumn celebrations. We're anxious about going door to door with children at night or encouraging candy fests in favor of healthy snacks. And we don't want to scare kids with ghosts and horror. I understand. There are some unsavory elements to Halloween (part of its appeal) and better minds than mine have analyzed the religious, psychological, and sociological implications of this "holiday." But if you're nostalgic about Halloween and enjoy some of its traditions, you may surprised to learn that many poets have explored this topic too. In fact, I think there are more poetry books about Halloween (and autumn) than any other holiday or season, with the exception of Christmas (and winter holidays). Obviously, something about this "dark" holiday has been compelling for a long time!

Enough of my philosophizing and reminiscing. Time to share my list of Halloween-themed poetry taken from my recent book, The Poetry Teacher's Book of Lists. Hope you find it useful-- and please let me know if I've omitted any of your favorites.

Poetry Books for Halloween

Halloween is a popular topic for poetry books for young people, along with a look at fall and autumn seasonal changes. Here is just a sampling.

  1. Alarcón, Francisco X. 1999. Angels Ride Bikes and Other Fall Poems. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press.
  2. Brown, Calef. 2010. Hallowilloween: Nefarious Silliness. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  3. sDahl, Roald. 2005. Vile Verses. New York: Viking.
  4. Farrar, Sid. 2012. The Year Comes Round: Haiku Through the Seasons. Ill. by Ilse Plume. Chicago: Whitman.
  5. Florian, Douglas. 1993. Monster Motel: Poems and Paintings. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace.
  6. Florian, Douglas. 2003. Autumnblings: Poems & Paintings. New York: Greenwillow.
  7. Frank, John. 2003. A Chill in the Air: Nature Poems for Fall and Winter. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  8. Ghigna, Charles. 2003. Halloween Night: Twenty-One Spooktacular Poems. Philadelphia: Running Kids Press.
  9. Gibbs, Susie. Ed. 2003. Poems to Make Your Friends Scream!. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  10. Gibbs, Susie. Ed. 2007. Scary Poems to Make You Shiver. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  11. Gibbs, Susie. Ed. 2006. Revolting Poems to Make you Squirm. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  12. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2005. Days to Celebrate: A Full Year of Poetry, People, Holidays, History, Fascinating Facts, and More. New York: Greenwillow.
  13. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 2006. Halloween Howls; An I Can Read Book. New York: HarperCollins.
  14. Hopkins, Lee. Bennett  Ed. 2010. Sharing the Seasons. Margaret McElderry.
  15. Katz, Bobbi. 2009. The Monsterologist; A Memoir in Rhyme. Ill. by Adam McCauley. New York: Sterling.
  16. Kutner, Merrily. 2007. The Zombie Nite Café. Ill. by Ethan Long. Holiday House.
  17. Lewis, J. Patrick. 2009. Countdown to Summer: 180 Poems for Every Day of the School Year. New York: Little, Brown.
  18. Livingston, Myra Cohn. Ed. 1989. Halloween Poems. New York: Holiday House.
  19. McNaughton, Colin. 2002. Making Friends with Frankenstein. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
  20. Mecum, Ryan. 2008. Zombie Haiku. Cincinnati, OH: How Books.
  21. Mecum, Ryan. 2009. Vampire Haiku. Cincinnati, OH: How Books.
  22. Merriam, Eve. 2002. Spooky A B C. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  23. Moore, Lilian. 1973. Spooky Rhymes and Riddles. New York: Scholastic.
  24. Mordhorst, Heidi. 2009. Pumpkin Butterfly; Poems from the Other Side of Nature. Honesdale PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
  25. Neugebauer, Charise. 2002. Halloween Circus. New York: NorthSouth Books.
  26. Prelutsky, Jack. 1976. Nightmares:  Poems to Trouble Your Sleep. New York: Greenwillow. Reprinted, New York: Mulberry Books, 1993.
  27. Prelutsky, Jack. 1977. It’s Halloween. New York: Greenwillow.
  28. Rex, Adam. 2006. Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich. San Diego, CA: Harcourt.
  29. Rex, Adam. 2008. Frankenstein Takes the Cake. New York: Harcourt Houghton Mifflin.
  30. Rogasky, Barbara. Ed. 2001. Leaf by Leaf. New York: Scholastic.
  31. Salas, Laura Purdie. 2008. Shrinking Days, Frosty Nights: Poems About Fall. Minneapolis, MN: Capstone.
  32. Sierra, Judy. 2005. Gruesome Guide to World Monsters. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
  33. Rogasky, Barbara. Ed. 2001. Leaf by Leaf. New York: Scholastic.
  34. Schnur, Steven. 1997. Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic. New York: Clarion.
  35. Sierra, Judy. 2008. Beastly Rhymes to Read After Dark. Ill. by Brian Biggs. New York: Knopf.
  36. Singer, Marilyn. 2001. Monster Museum. New York: Hyperion.
  37. Singer, Marilyn. 2004. Creature Carnival. New York: Hyperion.
  38. Sklanksy, Amy E. 2004. Skeleton Bones & Goblin Groans: Poems for Halloween. New York: Henry Holt .
  39. Swaim, Jessica. 2010. Scarum Fair. Ill. by Carol Ashley. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
  40. Whitehead, Jenny. 2007. Holiday Stew; A Kid’s Portion of Holiday and Seasonal Poems. New York: Henry Holt.
If you like this list, you'll find even more lists in my Poetry Teacher's Book of Lists, including a list of poetry books about monsters, poetry books about superstitions, beliefs, luck, magic, dreams, and nightmares, poetry books about cats, poetry books about weather, poetry books for Thanksgiving, poetry books for Hanukkah, poetry books for Christmas, and a list of versions of "The Night Before Christmas." Check it out here and there's more info about the book and ALL the lists here. A recent review in IRA's Reading Today noted, "If you are looking for one book to help improve your teaching of poetry, then this is the one for you! This book is a treasure trove.... It would be hard to imagine a better resource for teachers and librarians. Anyone anxious about including poetry in the classroom will have all fears alleviated by this thorough book."

And the lovely Laura Purdie Salas is hosting Poetry Friday today. Join her at Writing the World for Kids. See you there!

Posting by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2012. All rights reserved.


jama said...

Wow, what a fabulous list! Will check out your book, too :).

laurasalas said...

I read that wonderful review and shared it on FB, Sylvia--congratulations! What a great list this is for teachers...I plan to get your book before year's end. Such a fantastic resource.

Renee LaTulippe said...

What a comprehensive list! And congrats on the great review. Halloween was never traditionally "celebrated" in Italy until just the past two or three years, when I've been delighted to see that it's slowly becoming a tradition here, too. That's good news for this costume fanatic! And I'm all for a candy fest once a year - it's part of the beauty of childhood, and I wouldn't take that away. No harm done when things are done in moderation. :)

Janet Wong said...

Thanks for another great list! Your Book of Lists IS a treasure trove--the review was RIGHT!

Mary Lee said...

My kids LOVE Scarum Fair!

Robyn Hood Black said...

Congratulations on the great review; I've enjoyed dipping into this book and will for years to come. Love this Halloween round-up. Still one of my favorite holidays - in fact, it's time to unearth some unearthly decorations to go along with the more restrained fall ones. :0)