Some monsters seem scary, some sympathetic, while others can only be described as supremely silly. Whether they’re hiding under the bed, or going bump in the night, monsters may be all around! Get crazy with some monster madness using this list of recommended books for children ages 0-9.

 

A Creepy Countdown
By: Charlotte Huck, Joseph A. Smith
Illustrated by: Joseph A. Smith
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
From “one tall scarecrow standing on a hill” the countdown of creepy Halloweenish creatures continues until ten tiny mice scare them all with a loud “BOO!” The countdown begins again from ten until “one tall scarecrow stood all alone.” The rhyming count is illustrated by carefully composed, highly expressive black & white scratchboard illustrations.

Awful Ogre’s Awful Day
By: Jack Prelutsky, Paul O. Zelinsky
Illustrated by: Paul O. Zelinsky
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Awful Ogre’s day is much like anyone else’s, but with an ogre-ish twist. He uses onion juice as a mouthwash with just a dab on his chin, writes love letters to a delightfully disgusting ogress and more. The clever rhyming verse and dark-lined illustrations are filled with humor and visual jokes that will make this collection of poetry awfully popular.

Do Not Open
By: Brinton Turkle
Illustrated by: Brinton Turkle
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Miss Moody loves storms. They wash up many surprises, which she always uses in her sturdy little seaside house where she lives with Captain Kidd, her cat. One day, Miss Moody and Captain Kidd find a bottle washed up on the beach. When they ignore the warning not to open it, they release a mean, evil, genie-like creature. Undaunted, Miss Moody and her cat outsmart and defeat the monster. Dramatic illustrations are both comforting and appropriately spooky in this satisfying story in folktale tradition.
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First Graders from Mars: Horus’ Horrible Day
By: Shana Corey
Illustrated by: Mark Teague
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Even young monsters on Mars can have trouble adjusting to the first day of first grade. Not only does Horus miss the comforts of Martiangarten, but a know-it-all student harasses him. At his mother’s insistence, a very reluctant Horus returns the next day. Once there, he is able to forget his own problems when he helps a new and even more timid Martian. Characters are vividly colored and peculiarly shaped to create a comical but sympathetic school story of adjustment and emerging friendship.
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Frankenstein: A Monstrous Parody
By: Ludworst Bemonster
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
This silly-spooky parody of Ludwig Bemelman’s Madeline emulates the original’s cadence, storyline and illustration but with a decidedly Halloween-y twist. It begins, “In a creepy old castle/all covered in spines/lived twelve ugly monsters in two crooked lines… The ugliest one was Frankenstein.” It is sure to amuse even those not familiar with the original.
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Go Away, Big Green Monster!
By: Ed Emberley
Illustrated by: Ed Emberley
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader
The big Green Monster gradually appears on dye-cut pages with its big yellow eyes, a long nose, and a big red mouth with sharp teeth and more to create a “big scary green face!” But readers are in control as they turn the pages making the monster “GO AWAY” feature by stylized feature. Young children will be empowered by this carefully conceived and brightly colored book.

Goblins in Green
By: Nicholas Heller, Joseph A. Smith
Illustrated by: Joseph A. Smith
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
Meet Annabelle, Zelda, and the 24 lively green goblins in between, all dressed in zany costumes gleaned from an attic trunk. The language is alliterative and may stretch readers (and listeners) though well-crafted, brilliantly hued illustrations brimming with verve and humor provide visual cues and clues. This sophisticated, slyly humorous alphabet book merits numerous re-examinations.

Harry and the Terrible Whatzit
By: Dick Gackenbach
Illustrated by: Dick Gackenbach
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
Harry knows that a terrible two-headed monster lives in his basement. So when his mother doesn’t return from a trip downstairs, Harry swallows his trepidations and goes down to rescue her. But when he confronts the monster face-to-face, it literally diminishes in size and eventually leaves Harry’s house forever. Humorous illustrations use black line and limited color to depict Harry overcoming a once fierce (but softly edged) monster.

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
By: Linda Williams, Megan Lloyd
Illustrated by: Megan Lloyd
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
On her way home one windy autumn night, a fearless old lady notices a pair of shoes following her (clomp clomp!). Then she sees and hears the pants, shirt, and the rest of the outfit, but she’s not afraid – that is until she sees a large pumpkin head! The little old woman who wasn’t afraid of anything is also a very good runner – and run she does to the safety of her own home. This engaging story, based in traditional literature, is illustrated with crisp, humorous illustrations and encourages listener participation.

Monster Mash
By: David Catrow
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Madcap illustrations bring hilarious new life to the 1962 song, “Monster Mash.” It all begins with a bulbous scientist “working in the lab late one night” when his monster arose from his slab and begins to dance the monster mash. Other monsters — and finally two human children — join the green Frankenstein-like critter for colorful, frenzied fun.

The Monsters’ Monster
By: Patrick McDonnell
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
Grouch, Grump, and two-headed little Gloom ‘n’ Doom — three crabby monsters — tried to create the “biggest, baddest monster EVER!” When the huge monster comes alive his first words are “Dank you!” causing the cantankerous little monsters to succumb to his kind ways. Cartoon line and wash illustrations and understated text present a pleasing monster saga.

The Mysterious Tadpole
By: Steven Kellogg
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
When Louis’ uncle sends a tadpole from a certain lake in Scotland, the small tadpole grows to enormous proportions. With the help of a resourceful librarian, Louis figures out a way to feed his large and ever-hungry Alphonse as well as determine a permanent solution. Humor abounds in this contemporary classic.

The Tailypo: A Ghost Story
By: Joanna Galdone, Paul Galdone
Illustrated by: Paul Galdone
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader
A long time ago, an old man who lived in a rustic cabin in the woods ate the tail of mysterious critter. That night, the critter came back to get his tail saying, “Tailypo, tailypo, all I want is my tailypo.” Getting that tailypo makes for a satisfyingly spooky tale bound to make readers or listeners jump. Galdone’s cartoon-like illustrations add humor to a creepy yarn drawn from the oral tradition.

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  • dwheatl

    I’m reading The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything to my students this week. One that I love that is not on the list is The Teeny Tiny Woman.

  • lunasgathering

    Don’t forget “The Monster at the End of the Book” with Grover from Sesame Street. That was my favorite kid’s book when I was young.