Do It Yourself, or Books for Kids Scared of Halloween (or Both!)

Once upon a time, a long long time ago (OK, about nine years) there was a little girl named Chestnut (OK, that's an alias) and she was terrified of Halloween. The candy aisle. The kids with pumpkin carriers. Worst of all, the giant, wheezing blow-up monsters hovering outside peoples houses (also, if it was around, the Scab-Busting Rat, though he's not specifically Halloween-related).

Whenever we passed any of these things anywhere (for some reason CVS's display was the most terrifying), she would more or less melt, and would need to be carried out, sobbing.

It was great!

Anyway, none of this seems at all relevant anymore. Now she is scared of not passing Mandarin. And maybe also scared of the spooky specter of applying to college. And, you know, climate change. However! When I saw this excellent post, I remembered that as long as there are kids and Halloween, someone, somewhere will be crying. And that having a book about it would have been oh so helpful. Oh, if only!

This is such an excellent idea, and so fun and silly, and I wish I could read it to 5-year-old Chestnut, but alas that time has passed. But perhaps for you, or someone you know, it has not passed. If so, how excellent! You can make a book yourself! Or get this one that she made! Or just write something down on regular paper, and then eat some candy corn! No matter how it works out, it seems it's a win.

I wish you all a totally un-scary halloween that still involves candy corn in some way.

We Recommend: Nice Boys, for a 6-Year-Old

It’s We Recommend! In which we post a request that's been sent to us, and do our best to get that person the right book. Know a kid who needs a book to read? Send us (thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com) his or her likes, dislikes, favorites, quirks, and any other reading information that might be helpful, and we will think on it, and pose it to our oh-so-helpful readers. And look in the comments—all the best recommendations are there.

An interesting…well, I won't say conundrum, because it's not, but it certainly will get you thinking about gender and books and stereotypes and bravery, if you're that sort of reader.

See, we got the following lovely email:

For our almost 6-year-old boy Sam we're looking for books that show boys being wise, intuitive, and brave. He is naturally attracted to the qualities in many books written for girls, and we feel he is not being exposed to enough wise, intelligent, kind and brave boys.

Some books he's loved in the past: 
Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy (by David Soman, Jacky Davis)
The Children of Noisy Village (by Astrid Lindgren)
Fairyopolis: A Flower Fairies Journal (by Glen Bird Liz Catchpole and Cicely Mary Barker)
– We Are in a Book (Mo Willems)

Six-year-old Sam seems to like: nature. fairies. the outdoors. fun. insects.

I agree with him—these are all good things. And while there is a tiny bit of hesitation in me regarding the idea of such a purposeful read, I am fairly sure that this hesitation is reflexive and purposeless. So I will say that the very first book I thought of is the oh-so-wonderful Trumpet of the Swan, by E.B. White, which has the most brave, kind, wise and intelligent boy of all. AND it has nature. And magic! And swans.

But then I thought it might be too old, even as a read aloud? Is it too long? Would it be too much? Would Stuart Little be better, as it is much more episodic? But Stuart Little doesn't seem to match the young man in quite the same way. 

And then I thought: insects! Perhaps James and the Giant Peach, one of the greatest books in the world? But what about the two aunts getting squished flat so early on, and their terrible cruelty?

Oh dear, oh dear, it seemed like I would know, but maybe I won't know? A great read aloud, that's magical and kind and outdoors. Readers: I must return to my heart of hearts, and simply ask you to correct me in the comments, where you can put in a whole bunch of other books that make more sense. And truly, it is oh so wonderful.


We Recommend: 6-Year-Old Boy Read-Aloud

Ah, yes, it's We Recommend, where you write in with your near and dear one's favorite books, likes, loves, hates, and we try to find the right book for her! Or him! Have someone who needs a recommendation? E-mail us at thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com and we'll do our best to find something. But the secret is: all the best suggestions are in the comments.

Prepare! Repent!

Or maybe don't repent, but do prepare for the cockles of your heart to be warmed, your estimation of humankind raised a notch, and your bitterness dissipated (at least for a moment). Onward!

I am very happy to be the new step-mom of a newly 6 year-old boy (who is wonderful).  We read stories every night at bed time (every night he is with me and my husband, which is a little less than half the time).  He is in kindergarten and learning to read, but not yet confident about it at all.  I have been thinking that I would like to start reading chapter books to him at bed time, in part to fuel his interest in reading on his own.  He loves animals, legos, and angry birds.  He has a great memory for story details.  He has a sweet heart, a great sense of humor, and a bit of a mischievous streak.  And he gets scared pretty easily (and does not like it).  As I am new to the (step-)parenting gig and was never a 6 year-old boy myself, I'm a bit at sea about where to start.  Any ideas?  

Let's see: sweet heart? Humor? Mischievous? And six years old? Friends, I will go to my tried and true, my one great love, my silliness source, behold!


It's so sweet and ridiculous! I very much hope that this young man will enjoy it. But there are so many great read alouds for this age. Poetry is awesome, oh my goodness, Winnie the Pooh is perfect! It's as though every great children's book ever written was written to be read aloud to a sweet 6-year-old boy at bedtime.

But don't take my word for it. (Have you ever? I don't think so.) Opine! Into the comments with you, and let's hear some more ideas, so they have a tidy stack.

We Recommend: Picture Books, You Guys!

It's We Recommend, our occasional feature that means 1) someone wrote to us and asked for a book recommendation, 2) we came up with an idea, 3) you wonderful readers will chime in with many fabulous recommendations in the comments. Are you looking for a recommendation for your child (or yourself)? Just write to us at thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com, and we will happily ponder until we find the perfect book for you. And truly, look in the comments, it's where to find all the best picks.

Hooray, we got a request for a picture book! See here:

"He is 3 and loves almost everything.  Particular faves:  Where the Wild things Are, Amos and Boris, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, the Mother Goose illustrated by Rosemary Wells. More importantly, what I like: fabulous illustrations and poetic language.

We would love some recommendations."

He is 3 and loves almost everything! Oh how far this is from my current life with a 13 and 15 year old. Not that they aren't awesome—they are. But loves almost everything? Not exactly.

This list makes me want to reread all these books again. They're just so good and crazy and wonderful. And boy do we hear the "More importantly, what I like…."

So let's think. Or really, let's be honest (or at least, I will try to be honest) and admit that for me this isn't about thinking at all, but about a heartfelt ache, because with great art I don't really think (which is maybe something I should worry about), I just react. And here is the book that I love, with fabulous illustrations and, as far as I'm concerned, poetic language.


This book is awesome. It's strange and dark and sweet and bizarre, and I could (and have) read it over and over and over. 

But I put this here, knowing that other people have a different definition of poetic language, and likely different choices. What are they—would you put them in the comments for this enthusiastic 3-year-old and his mother?

A Strange and Excellent Book

There is one book in particular that has been found splayed open on the bathroom floor, over and over. It is this:


Well, today I finally broke down and read it. And it was excellent.

It's definitely something that will have to be read aloud for the younger set. Half of it is typeset narration about Darwin, and the rest is a series of excerpts from his journals, reproduced (sort of) in cursive, which might be tough for the small who can read, to read.

But there is something so very lovely in its tone: musing and thoughtful and awed. It grapples with science and religion and the difficulty of doing something your family doesn't approve of. I would read it alound to just about anyone who would listen if I could—partly because older kids might shy away from its picture book look. But it's wonderful, and interesting, and if you have a science minded bug-collecting sort of kid, you ought to run out and buy it right away, I think.