Building self-esteem in young children is a cause which resonates deep within me. I have found that picture book stories are an amazing vehicle for parents and teachers to use, not only for entertainment and enjoyment, but also to help preschoolers deal with the many issues they face as they grow up.
Halloween is a perfect time to read, “A TIGER CALLED THOMAS“, by Charlotte Zolotow. Every young child will enjoy the story about the little boy who moves into a new neighborhood and feels that no one will like him. He is too afraid to connect with the children he sees playing outside. But on Halloween, even though he hides behind a tiger mask, the children and adults in his neighborhood welcome him and show him that they want to be his friend. For other books that address a similar theme of young children who are hesitant about moving to a new place and making new friends, check out “ALEXANDER WHO’S NOT (DO YOU HEAR ME? I MEAN IT!) GOING TO MOVE” by Judith Voirst and “GILA MONSTERS MEET YOU AT THE AIRPORT” by Marjorie Weiman Sharmat.
Halloween is also a perfect time for dress-up and role-playing, although these activities can be enjoyed by young children all year long. In fact, dress-up and role-playing are wonderful ways for children to express feelings and concerns that they might be hesitant to express as themselves. You can use a sturdy cardboard box to store dress-up items…your child can help decorate the outside of the box and you can shop at Goodwill or consignment stores to find inexpensive items to supply the box. If you do go out to buy a premade costume, make sure it will be safe and comfortable for your young child to wear. Most little ones will be thrilled with a homemade costume that they have helped put together. We often get caught up in the commercialism of many holidays…but with young children…simple is often the best choice.
Over the years, we had many Halloween parties for our children. We also went trick or treating countless times. But the best Halloween ever was the one we spent at a church-organized “Trick or Treat” where the children and adults all dressed up in costumes. Each Suncay school classroom was manned by an adult (in costume) and the children walked down the halls, knocking on each door that was opened by the adult who was ready with a bowl of treats. When all of the children had gone “trick or treating”, everyone assembled in the main dining room which was festively decorated. In each corner, games had been set up…dunking for apples, donuts on a string, beanbag toss, etc…and there were small prizes awarded to each child. There were also tables with juice, cupcakes and other things to eat and drink. Finally, there was a costume parade and each child won a blue ribbon for the best costume in different categories: scariest costume, most colorful costume, shiniest costume, etc. It was a safe, fun-filled evening for everyone. Perhaps your church, temple or neighborhood group can organize a similar event. It’s not too eary to start planning!
For more information on all things Halloween, go to;
where Sherri Osborn is hosting a Halloween Blog Carnival. You’ll find tips on costumes, food, party ideas and more for the youngest trick or treaters and lots of ideas for older children and teenagers, as well.