As an elementary school teacher and parent, I have read hundreds of children’s books, but there is one read-aloud that I look forward to every year. Despite being season-specific, my favorite read-aloud, and by far the best Halloween book, is Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman.
It wasn’t a book I read as a child, but was actually introduced to during a practicum in first grade while getting my undergrad degree in elementary education. The school I was at was set up in a “pod” system, so there were three first grade classes in one large room and each morning all of the classes would congregate for a morning meeting at the front of the space. I can’t remember whether or not they read a book together everyday during this time, but one particular morning a very enthusiastic little girl – we’ll call her Molly – had the responsibility of sharing Big Pumpkin with the first grade. They played the book-on-tape in the background and oh man, Molly was in full-on character for every part of the book. It was SO entertaining and enjoyed by every student there, many who sang along, too. But the most captivated person in the audience? That’d be ME.
Something about the way this story engaged the children really stuck with me, so much so that during my first year of teaching, I went on a mad hunt for the accompanying book on tape because I knew that it was a necessary companion for the students to enjoy the book as much as I did. Back in 2008, the only CASSETTE I could find was on eBay for around $90 and was not even remotely an option for this first year teacher. I happened to mention to my mother-in-law my plight to find this cassette and she looked at me and said, I actually feel like we owned that book when the kids were little.
In the most magic twist of fate and after rummaging through storage bins in her basement, SHE HAD THE BOOK AND THE ACCOMPANYING CASSETTE TAPE and saved that day! I went on to share Big Pumpkin with my kindergarteners every day of the month in October (sometimes twice). They loved it just as much as I did and could proficiently tell the story word-for-word by Halloween.
I recently came across the hand-drawn pieces that I used to teach sequencing while reading the book, still in their laminated perfection…
The good news is that you no longer need to hunt down an overpriced cassette for your class to enjoy this classic. YouTube has you covered and you can snag a copy of the book on Amazon for cheap. I’m always afraid it’s going to go out of print since it was originally published in 1992, so don’t delay!
For your listening pleasure…
And, while Big Pumpkin is for sure my favorite, there are several others pumpkin-themed books that I adore, too. Be sure to check out this post for some great reads to add to your classroom library this year, along with some great activities to go with them!
Do you have a favorite book to read to your students this time of year? Please share!
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