Back to School season seems to have gone by in a flash! Pumpkins, costumes, and candy corn are beginning to appear, signaling that fall (and Halloween!) is well on its way. In the spirit of the season, I’ve compiled a list of non-fiction and subject-specific books that will keep your students reading – and learning! – all autumn long. Practice geometry with the help of a mummy, bone up on the functions of skeletons, or play the mad scientist with some spooky experiments…these October-themed books are sure to interest even the most reluctant of readers!
Kindergarten – Grade 1
Math: Zero Is the Leaves on the Tree by Betsy Franco
Beautifully illustrated, Zero is the Leaves on the Tree is a fresh, eye-opening book that explores the concept of zero. You’ll never look at the world the same way after reading this wonderful math book by Betsy Franco (Yes, she’s James Franco’s mother!). Inviting children to see “nothing” in the context of the seasons, the simple, poetic text gives students insight into the absence of objects and what the number zero actually represents. Before you know it, kids will be looking at the world around them and seeing zero everywhere!
Social Studies: The Day of the Dead/ Día de los muertos by Bob Barner and Teresa Mlawer
This dazzling introduction to the Mexican holiday features bold, colorful illustrations and a simple, poetic text in both English and Spanish by noted nonfiction artist and writer Bob Barner. Young readers will learn how on this day, ancestors are invited home with marigold petals, honored with special foods, and sung festive tunes. The pictures of traditional skeletons are cheerful and lighthearted and invite children into an understanding of a holiday that is a joyous way of remembering all those who have passed away. This is a great read
Math: Mummy Math: An Adventure in Geometry by Cindy Neuschwander
What begins with a journey through an ancient pyramid turns into a lesson in basic geometry! Matt and Bibi Zills join their scientist parents on a mission to find an ancient pharaoh’s mummy in Egypt. Bibi is especially excited about learning to read hieroglyphs. Upon entering the pyramid, a secret door shuts behind the siblings, locking them inside! In order to escape, they must gather clues from the geometric hieroglyphs—and with a little luck, they may just find the mummy after all! Mummy Math also includes a list of teaching ideas for both parents and teachers alike!
Science: Bones by Steve Jenkins
Take a peek at what’s inside—from the impossibly long rib cage of a python snake to the incredibly delicate skeleton of a frog, students can explore the form and function of skeletons in Bones, from Caldecott artist Steve Jenkins. Inviting paper-cut illustrations and interactive text engage readers in learning about the fascinating shapes, sizes, and functions of skeletons. A great scientific read into the inner workings of all types of bodies!
History: Six Days in October: The Stock Market Crash of 1929 by Karen Blumenthal
While bringing to life the darkest days of the mammoth crash of 1929, this engrossing nonfiction book explains stock-market fundamentals for young readers living in an era of Wall Street vs. Main Street. Wall Street Journal Bureau Chief, Karen Blumenthal, chronicles the six terrifying, desperate days in October 1929 when the fabulous fortunes that Americans had built in stocks plummeted with a speed never seen before and more than $25 billion in individual wealth was lost in a single week.
In addition to explaining why the crash happened, this book also offers fascinating tales of key stock-market players, like Michael J. Meehan, an immigrant who started his career hustling cigars outside theaters and helped convince thousands to gamble their hard-earned money as never before. It also includes riveting accounts of the power struggles between Wall Street and Washington and poignant stories of those who lost their savings—and more—to the allure of stocks and the power of greed.
Science: Scary Science: 24 Creepy Experiments by Shar Levine and Leslie Johnstone
Educational science experiments…with a creepy twist! This book features 25 spooky experiments that are guaranteed to get kids giggling while learning some scientific facts. Kids will love creating their own shrunken heads, bending bones, making eyeballs bounce, mixing up bubbling alien blood, and more! They’ll also learn the true stories behind deadly spiders, zombie worms, and exploding snakes with “Strange…but true!” facts throughout. Each experiment includes step-by-step instructions, cute illustrations, and easy-to-find ingredients—so there’s no excuse not to try them, and spook your students into loving science!
Grades 7 +
Literature: Eight Tales of Terror by Edgar Allan Poe
Introduce your students to classic literature with this remarkable collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s most masterful tales—eight stories with as much spooky appeal as when they were first written in the 19th century!
The eight short stories in this extraordinary collection are some of Poe’s finest work, including “The Cask of Amontillado,” a tale describing the perfect crime of revenge, and “The Fall of the House of Usher,” which details the dreadful premature burial of Lady Madeline Usher by her brother, Richard, and the destruction of their sinister, melancholy mansion. The six other stories in the collection—”MS. Found in a Bottle,” “Ligeia,” “William Wilson,” “Hop-Frog,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” and “The Imp of the Perverse”—are also among the most famous gothic fiction stories in American literature. The book includes a critical introduction, and an imaginary “application form” completed with biographical facts about Poe at the age of 21, followed by a discussion of some of the more puzzling aspects of Poe’s life, including his military career and the mystery surrounding his untimely death.
Science: The Worst-Case Scenario Survive-O-Pedia: Junior Edition by David Borgenicht, Molly Smith, Brandan Walsh and Robin Epstein
It’s the best of the worst! This hardcover, full-color edition of the popular series—loved by parents, teachers, and kids alike—serves up a wild ride through mudslides, volcanoes, shark-infested oceans, menacing mountains, and more! Seventy entries are packed with illuminating facts, eye-popping photos, hilarious illustrations, must-see maps, heaps of humor, and step-by-step instructions. Readers will be armed with the knowledge and skills needed to survive anything…and still live to tell about it!