The 13 Days of Halloween

thirteen days of halloween

Title: The 13 Days of Halloween
Author: Carol Greene
Published: September, 2009 by Sourcebooks
Genre: Juvenile Fiction/Picture Book

Yesterday morning I stood before my class and announced that I had a new book to read to them. “Have you ever heard of The Twelve Days of Christmas?” I asked. “Well, this book is titled The 13 Days of Halloween…”

“Mrs. Smith!”


“Thirteen rhymes with Halloween!”

“You’re right, Jacob. Now…”

“Mrs. Smith!”

“Yes, Terri?”

“Thirteen can be a good day. My dog was born on the 13th of July…”
“…and my football jersey has the number 13 on the back…,”said Ethan,
“…and my number in class is 13,” said Saif.

“Okay. Well, we’re going to listen to this story,” I said, and I began:

On the first day of Halloween, my good friend gave to me:
a vulture in a dead tree.

“Mrs. Smith! Vultures can peck your eyes out!” said Keya.

“Yeah, and vultures fly over the desert looking for dead animals,” said Shobhit.

“Then it’s not a very nice gift, is it children?” I replied. “Let’s hear the story before we make any more comments.”

and so, I read them the whole story, which we actually started singing together because it follows The Twelve Days of Christmas so nicely. Plus, it’s a great way to enhance their memory skills: seeing if they can remember each new gift as it was added. When we got near the end:

On the twelfth day of Halloween my good friend gave to me:


Twelve cauldrons bubbling,

eleven bats a-swooping,

ten goblins gobbling,

nine wizards whizzing,

eight brooms a-flying,

seven spiders creeping,

six owls a-screeching,

five cooked worms,

four giggling ghosts,

three fat toads,

two hissing cats,

and a vulture in a dead tree.


I turned the page and read,

On the thirteenth day of Halloween I invited my good friend to tea, and I gave HIM a present.

The children waited, breathless as I said,

A real, live….

and showed them this picture:


There was a stunned silence. And then a flood of comments wondering what could be inside the last gift. I had them take out their Reading Response Journals, mere notebook paper stapled inside a cover into which they write about what they’ve read, and had them write what was inside the box. (Kyle still insists it’s a giant baby floating head.)

Then, I asked them what they thought of the book, because many of us who’ve read Murakami, for example, were initially frustrated when we’re left hanging. An amazing 17 children out of 29 said they liked the ending left ambiguous! Here’s what they said:

“I loved it because it was funny and scary at the same time.” ~Nicholas

“I like the idea that they didn’t tell what the ending gift was so we could imagine it more.” ~Claudia

“I like the way it kept adding on and you could also sing along.” ~Sophie

“Thanks for actually letting us use our imagination instead of telling us. p.s. I said he got a giant floating baby head.” ~Kyle

and my personal favorite:

“I’m usually Mr. Specific, but I’m glad you let me use my imagination for once.” ~Jacob

There you have it, in better words than I can say. This is a great Halloween read, and the kids totally loved it.Totally.

23 thoughts on “The 13 Days of Halloween”

  1. I have the largest smile on my face right now! First, what a wonderful book–I've got to get my hands on it! But I love how you shared your experience with your kids. They can be so wise, can't they? "I’m usually Mr. Specific, but I’m glad you let me use my imagination for once." Thanks for sharing this with us, Bellezza.


  2. What a great story! You need to share more classroom stories with us! See, these kids' comments remind me exactly of my son. He would be the one to see the baby head in the box. I think you are doing something right here, because these children appreciate the ambiguous ending, which is the best way to end a book in my opinion. Leave me a few threads and let me run with it!


  3. Thanks for sharing a your classroom experience. Kids keep us young and are so darn insightful. They just make you laugh. I'm going to find a copy of this Halloween book as it sounds just like something my kids would enjoy too. Thanks for the recommendation. I just have to share a new book I'm reading with my kids called Runt Farm: Under New Management by Amanda Lorenzo. It's about the adventures of a kitten, duck and a couple of mice. There are alot of good topics for conversation and opportunities for children to learn. The illustrations are great too.


  4. Your kids just provided some proof for a couple of assertions I made in my response to your comment over at my place:"Formulaic television programming makes storylines boring and conclusions predictable… Books can keep us in touch with the creative, imaginative and provocative voices that make us more human, not less."Imagination rocks!


  5. Oh thank you for sharing this wonderful teaching experience with us. And what an amazing way to get the kids not only writing but using their imaginations as well. I love it and will be keeping this book in mind in the future 🙂


  6. SO CUTE! I love picture books in general, but I especially love Halloween picture books. The illustrations in this one look absolutely delightful!


  7. I love it! Shoreacres informed me about your new book review. She told me that I might enjoy it. What a fun book to read! Thanks for sharing this. 🙂 And thanks, shoreacres!


  8. What a wonderful review & story! I was born on the 13th, as were most of my closest friends, so 13 has a special meaning to me & my family. I must get this book and read it to my kids. Thanks for sharing!


  9. I love how the kids interrupted the story-telling. You can always tell how into a book children are. They either stare with rapt attention, ask a lot of questions, or meander off to play with a toy if bored 🙂


  10. Where were you when my kids were in school?On another note, I so miss wandering the aisles of the chlldren's book section. Not up on what's new out there and I miss the artwork.


  11. Oh, wonderful! What a cool book (what a cool teacher)!! What great kids! Thank you for this; now I'll have the song in my head for days (13 perhaps). Encouraging and inspiring–you have taught more than 3rd graders with this one, Bellezza.


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