Looking for the best October read alouds for the classroom? These picture books for read alouds in October for elementary students are engaging for primary and upper elementary kids. Books with lesson plans and activities linked. Picture books about various topics such as Hispanic Heritage Month, Indigenous Peoples Day, Halloween, and more for your kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade students. Your students will delight in these classic and brand new books!
If you’re a member of the Picture Book Brain Trust Community, you already have access to EVERY lesson plan and activity for these books! Just click on the Lesson Plans button in the menu!
BOOKS ABOUT HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH
(SEPTEMBER 15-OCTOBER 15)
Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) begins September 15th and continues into October. If you are looking for books to celebrate, these are some of my favorites. If you’re looking for biographies for Hispanic Heritage Month or fiction books for Hispanic Heritage Month , I have more detailed lists for those!
The Princess And The Warrior by Duncan Tonatiuh
Izta was the most beautiful princess in the land, and suitors traveled from far and wide to woo her. Even though she was the daughter of the emperor, Izta had no desire to marry a man of wealth and power. Instead, she fell in love with Popoca, a brave warrior who fought in her father’s army—and a man who did not offer her riches but a promise to stay by her side forever.
The emperor did not want his daughter to marry a mere warrior, but he recognized Popoca’s bravery. He offered Popoca a deal: If the warrior could defeat their enemy, Jaguar Claw, then the emperor would permit Popoca and Izta to wed. But Jaguar Claw had a plan to thwart the warrior. Would all be lost?
Lucha Libre: The Man In The Silver Mask by Xavier Garza
Carlitos’ trip to visit his uncle in Mexico City gets even more exciting when he gets to go to his first lucha libre match with his dad. For some mysterious reason, Carlitos’ uncle doesn’t join them at the match. But the event is fun from the beginning, and Carlitos even gets to pick a luchador mask before they sit right on the ringside. Up close to all the drama of the wrestling, Carlitos sees the Man in the Silver Mask, one of the most famous wrestling heroes. Even though he’s never seen him before, the luchador’s eyes look terribly familiar. The masked wrestler even smiles at Carlitos! He is mesmerized as the Man in the Silver Mask is pitted against the terrible forces of evil―los rudos, the bad guys of lucha libre. The audience is full of energy and they boo and hiss the villains! In the end, though, the Man in the Silver Mask triumphs and gains a lifelong fan.
Get the lesson plan and activities for Lucha Libre: The Man In The Silver Mask HERE
Islandborn by Junot Diaz
Every kid in Lola’s school was from somewhere else.
Hers was a school of faraway places.
So when Lola’s teacher asks the students to draw a picture of where their families immigrated from, all the kids are excited. Except Lola. She can’t remember The Island—she left when she was just a baby. But with the help of her family and friends, and their memories—joyous, fantastical, heartbreaking, and frightening—Lola’s imagination takes her on an extraordinary journey back to The Island. As she draws closer to the heart of her family’s story, Lola comes to understand the truth of her abuela’s words: “Just because you don’t remember a place doesn’t mean it’s not in you.”
Get the lesson plan and activities for Islandborn HERE
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
We are resilience, We are hope, We are dreamers.
Yuyi Morales brought her hopes, her passion, her strength, and her stories with her, when she came to the United States in 1994 with her infant son. She left behind nearly everything she owned, but she didn’t come empty-handed.
Dreamers is a celebration of making your home with the things you always carry: your resilience, your dreams, your hopes and history. It’s the story of finding your way in a new place, of navigating an unfamiliar world and finding the best parts of it. In dark times, it’s a promise that you can make better tomorrows. A beautiful story that can also help you incorporate poetry in your classroom!
Get the lesson plan and activities for Dreamers HERE
Carmela Full Of Wishes by Matt De La Peña
When Carmela wakes up on her birthday, her wish has already come true–she’s finally old enough to join her big brother as he does the family errands. Together, they travel through their neighborhood, past the crowded bus stop, the fenced-off repair shop, and the panadería, until they arrive at the Laundromat, where Carmela finds a lone dandelion growing in the pavement. But before she can blow its white fluff away, her brother tells her she has to make a wish. If only she can think of just the right wish to make . . .
Get the lesson plan and activities for Carmela Full Of Wishes HERE
Frida by Jonah Winter
This long-awaited companion to Jonah Winter’s acclaimed DIEGO features the paintings of young Spanish artist, Ana Juan. This stunning picture book is the perfect gift for art enthusiasts of all ages.When her mother was worn out from caring for her five sisters, her father gave her lessons in brushwork and color. When polio kept her bedridden for nine months, drawing saved her from boredom. When a bus accident left her in unimaginable agony, her paintings expressed her pain and depression – and eventually, her joys and her loves. Over and over again, Frida Kahlo turned the challenges of her life into art. Viva Frida!
Get the lesson plan and activities for Frida HERE
Frida Kahlo And Her Animalitos by Monica Brown
Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos, written by Monica Brown and illustrated by John Parra, is based on the life of one of the world’s most influential painters, Frida Kahlo, and the animals that inspired her art and life.
The fascinating Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is remembered for her self-portraits, her dramatic works featuring bold and vibrant colors. Her work brought attention to Mexican and indigenous culture and she is also renowned for her works celebrating the female form.
Marti’s Song For Freedom by Emma Otheguy
A bilingual biography of José Martí, who dedicated his life to the promotion of liberty, the abolishment of slavery, political independence for Cuba, and intellectual freedom. Written in verse with excerpts from Martí’s seminal work, Versos sencillos.
Get the lesson plan and activities for Marti’s Song For Freedom HERE
My Name Is Celia Cruz by Monica Brown
This bilingual book allows young readers to enter Celia Cruz’s life as she becomes a well-known singer in her homeland of Cuba, then moves to New York City and Miami where she and others create a new type of music called salsa.
Danza!: Amalia Hernández And Mexico’s Folkloric Ballet by Duncan Tonatiuh
As a child, Amalia Hernández saw a pair of dancers in the town square. The way they stomped and swayed to the rhythm of the beat inspired her. She knew one day she would become a dancer.
Amalia studied ballet and modern dance under the direction of skilled teachers who had performed in world-renowned dance companies. But she never forgot the folk dance she had seen years earlier. She began traveling through the Mexican countryside, witnessing the dances of many regions, and she used her knowledge of ballet and modern dance to adapt the traditional dances to the stage. She founded her own dance company, a group that became known as el Ballet Folklórico de México.
Get the lesson plan and activities for Danza!: Amalia Hernández And Mexico’s Folkloric Ballet HERE
Planting Stories: The Life Of Librarian And Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Denise
An inspiring picture book biography of storyteller, puppeteer, and New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian, who championed bilingual literature.
When she came to America in 1921, Pura Belpré carried the cuentos folklóricos of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular retellings into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have grown into a lush landscape as generations of children and storytellers continue to share her tales and celebrate Pura’s legacy.
Get the lesson plan and activities for Planting Stories: The Life Of Librarian And Storyteller Pura Belpré HERE
You can try a lesson and activity for Planting Stories by signing up here:
Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows In The Bronx / La Juez Que Crecio En El Bronx by Jonah Winter
Before Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor took her seat in our nation’s highest court, she was just a little girl in the South Bronx. Justice Sotomayor didn’t have a lot growing up, but she had what she needed — her mother’s love, a will to learn, and her own determination. With bravery she became the person she wanted to be, and with hard work she succeeded. With little sunlight and only a modest plot from which to grow, Justice Sotomayor bloomed for the whole world to see.
Get the lesson plan and activities for Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows In The Bronx / La Juez Que Crecio En El Bronx HERE
Harvesting Hope: The Story Of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull
Cesar Chavez is known as one of America’s greatest civil rights leaders. When he led a 340-mile peaceful protest march through California, he ignited a cause and improved the lives of thousands of migrant farmworkers. But Cesar wasn’t always a leader. As a boy, he was shy and teased at school. His family slaved in the fields for barely enough money to survive.
Cesar knew things had to change, and he thought that–maybe–he could help change them. So he took charge. He spoke up. And an entire country listened. An author’s note provides historical context for the story of Cesar Chavez’s life.
Biblioburro by Jeanette Winter
A man, his burros, and his books bring joy to children in remote Colombian villages in this inspiring book based on a true story by celebrated picture book creator Jeanette Winter.
Luis loves to read, but soon his house in Colombia is so full of books there’s barely room for the family. What to do? Then he comes up with the perfect solution—a traveling library! He buys two donkeys—Alfa and Beto—and travels with them throughout the land, bringing books and reading to the children in faraway villages.
Get the lesson plan and activities for Biblioburro HERE
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY
As we’ve evolved from teaching about Columbus Day, these are some great Indigenous People’s Day books for kids! I also have a much more comprehensive list of books for Native American heritage.
Zonia’s Rain Forest by Juana Martínez-Neal
Zonia’s home is the Amazon rain forest, where it is always green and full of life. Every morning, the rain forest calls to Zonia, and every morning, she answers. She visits the sloth family, greets the giant anteater, and runs with the speedy jaguar. But one morning, the rain forest calls to her in a troubled voice. How will Zonia answer?
Get the lesson plan and activities for Zonia’s Rain Forest HERE
We Are Still Here! by Traci Sorell
Twelve Native American kids present historical and contemporary laws, policies, struggles, and victories in Native life, each with a powerful refrain: We are still here!
Too often, Native American history is treated as a finished chapter instead of relevant and ongoing. This companion book to the award-winning We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga offers readers everything they never learned in school about Native American people’s past, present, and future. Precise, lyrical writing presents topics including: forced assimilation (such as boarding schools), land allotment and Native tribal reorganization, termination (the US government not recognizing tribes as nations), Native urban relocation (from reservations), self-determination (tribal self-empowerment), Native civil rights, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), religious freedom, economic development (including casino development), Native language revival efforts, cultural persistence, and nationhood.
Get the lesson plan and activities for We Are Still Here! HERE
Encounter by Jane Yolen
When Christopher Columbus landed on the island of San Salvador in 1492, what he discovered were the Taino Indians. Told from a young Taino boys point of view, this is a story of how the boy tried to warn his people against welcoming the strangers, who seemed more interested in golden ornaments than friendship. Years later the boy, now an old man, looks back at the destruction of his people and their culture by the colonizers.
Get the lesson plan and activities for Encounter HERE
We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom
Water is the first medicine.
It affects and connects us all . . .
When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth
And poison her people’s water, one young water protector
Takes a stand to defend Earth’s most sacred resource.
Get the lesson plan and activities for We Are Water Protectors HERE
Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard
Fry bread is food.
It is warm and delicious, piled high on a plate.
Fry bread is time.
It brings families together for meals and new memories.
Fry bread is nation.
It is shared by many, from coast to coast and beyond.
Fry bread is us.
It is a celebration of old and new, traditional and modern, similarity and difference.
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell
The Cherokee community is grateful for blessings and challenges that each season brings. This is modern Native American life as told by an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation.
The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences. Written by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, this look at one group of Native Americans is appended with a glossary and the complete Cherokee syllabary, originally created by Sequoyah.
Bowwow Powwow by Brenda Child
Windy Girl is blessed with a vivid imagination. From Uncle she gathers stories of long-ago traditions, about dances and sharing and gratitude. Windy can tell such stories herself–about her dog, Itchy Boy, and the way he dances to request a treat and how he wriggles with joy in response to, well, just about everything.
When Uncle and Windy Girl and Itchy Boy attend a powwow, Windy watches the dancers in their jingle dresses and listens to the singers. She eats tasty food and joins family and friends around the campfire. Later, Windy falls asleep under the stars. Now Uncle’s stories inspire other visions in her head: a bowwow powwow, where all the dancers are dogs. In these magical scenes, Windy sees veterans in a Grand Entry, and a visiting drum group, and traditional dancers, grass dancers, and jingle-dress dancers–all with telltale ears and paws and tails. All celebrating in song and dance. All attesting to the wonder of the powwow.
Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie
Thunder Boy Jr. wants a normal name…one that’s all his own. Dad is known as big Thunder, but little thunder doesn’t want to share a name. He wants a name that celebrates something cool he’s done like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth, or Full of Wonder.
But just when Little Thunder thinks all hope is lost, dad picks the best name…Lightning! Their love will be loud and bright, and together they will light up the sky.
Get the lesson plan and activities for Thunder Boy Jr. HERE
October is a great month for spooky books! Here I have some of my favorites, but I have a more comprehensive list of Halloween books here!
Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds
Jasper Rabbit loves carrots—especially Crackenhopper Field carrots.
He eats them on the way to school.
He eats them going to Little League, and he eats them walking home.
Until the day the carrots start following him…or are they?
Get the lesson plan and activities for Creepy Carrots HERE
Creepy Pair of Underwear by Aaron Reynolds
Jasper Rabbit is NOT a little bunny anymore. He’s not afraid of the dark, and he’s definitely not afraid of something as silly as underwear. But when the lights go out, suddenly his new big rabbit underwear glows in the dark. A ghoulish, greenish glow. If Jasper didn’t know any better he’d say his undies were a little, well, creepy. Jasper’s not scared obviously, he’s just done with creepy underwear. But after trying everything to get rid of them, they keep coming back!
Get the lesson plan and activities for Creepy Pair of Underwear HERE
Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett
You would like being friends with Leo. He likes to draw, he makes delicious snacks, and most people can’t even see him. Because Leo is also a ghost. When a new family moves into his home and Leo’s efforts to welcome them are misunderstood, Leo decides it is time to leave and see the world. That is how he meets Jane, a kid with a tremendous imagination and an open position for a worthy knight. That is how Leo and Jane become friends. And that is when their adventures begin.
Get the lesson plan and activities for Leo: A Ghost Story HERE
The Halloween Kid by Rhode Montijo
From the illustrator of the Melvin Beederman, SUPERHERO series comes a story about a masked hero and his trusty steed. Together they save Halloween from ruthless toilet paper–tossing mummies and pumpkin-sucking vampires.
No siree, Halloween won’t be canceled anytime soon, not while the Halloween Kid’s around. With a rootin’ tootin’ Halloween monster–shootin’ text and retro-modern illustrations, The Halloween Kid will lasso in readers both young and old. Because who doesn’t love a hero who defends the right to trick or treat? Yee-Ha-lloween!
Ol’ Clip-Clop by Patricia McKissack
Mounting his horse, cold-hearted John Leep smiles as he anticipates evicting the widow Mayes for nonpayment of rent. When she comes up with the rent after all, Leep, unwilling to be disappointed, knocks her coins to the floor and hides one of them in his boot. The widow will be evicted in the morning; but as he departs, Leep is pursued by an unseen stalker. As Leep rides faster, so does his pursuer–clippity-cloppity, clippity-cloppity–until Leep reaches his home. Is John Leep safe at last or is Ol’ Clip-Clop gonna SWALLOW HIM WHOLE?!!!!
The Dark by Lemony Snicket
Laszlo is afraid of the dark. The dark lives in the same house as Laszlo. Mostly, though, the dark stays in the basement and doesn’t come into Lazslo’s room. But one night, it does. This is the story of how Laszlo stops being afraid of the dark.
Get the lesson plan and activities for The Dark HERE
The Widow’s Broom by Chris Van Allsburg
Some of Minna Shaw’s neighbors don’t trust her clever broom. “It’s dangerous,” they say. But Minna appreciates the broom’s help. She enjoys its quiet company. But one day two children get taught a well-deserved lesson by the broom. For her neighbors, this is proof of the broom’s evil spirit. Minna is obligated to give up her dear companion.
Chris Van Allsburg, master of the mysterious, brings this tale to life with moody and memorable pictures that will haunt readers long after the book’s covers are closed—now in a new edition to celebrate this beloved book’s twenty-fifth anniversary.
The Tailypo by Joanna Galdone
In this spooky, horror-filled picture book, a strange varmint haunts the woodsman who lopped off his tail and had it for dinner.
Crankenstein by Samantha Berger
BEWARE OF CRANKENSTEIN! He’s a little monster of crankiness that no one can destroy! MEHHRRRR!!! He may look like any ordinary boy, but when faced with a rainy day, a melting popsicle, or an early bedtime, one little boy transforms into a mumbling, grumbling Crankenstein. When Crankenstein meets his match in a fellow Crankenstein, the results could be catastrophic–or they could be just what he needs to brighten his day!
Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard
The kids in Room 207 were misbehaving again. Spitballs stuck to the ceiling. Paper planes whizzing through the air. They were the worst-behaved class in the whole school.
So begins this quirky classic, first published in 1977 and still relevant today as a lighthearted reminder to show our appreciation to those we value. The students don’t proffer a shred of respect for their good-natured teacher Miss Nelson, but when the witchy substitute Miss Viola Swamp appears on the scene, they start to regret their own wicked ways.
Get the lesson plan and activities for Miss Nelson is Missing! HERE
She Made a Monster by Lynn Fulton
On a stormy night two hundred years ago, a young woman sat in a dark house and dreamed of her life as a writer. She longed to follow the path her own mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, had started down, but young Mary Shelley had yet to be inspired.
As the night wore on, Mary grew more anxious. The next day was the deadline that her friend, the poet Lord Byron, had set for writing the best ghost story. After much talk of science and the secrets of life, Mary had gone to bed exhausted and frustrated that nothing she could think of was scary enough. But as she drifted off to sleep, she dreamed of a man that was not a man. He was a monster.
Stumpkin by Lucy Ruth Cummins
Stumpkin is the most handsome pumpkin on the block. He’s as orange as a traffic cone! Twice as round as a basketball! He has no bad side! He’s perfect choice for a Halloween jack-o-lantern.
There’s just one problem—Stumpkin has a stump, not a stem. And no one seems to want a stemless jack-o-lantern for their window.
As Halloween night approaches, more and more of his fellow pumpkins leave, but poor Stumpkin remains. Will anyone give Stumpkin his chance to shine?
Get the lesson plan and activities for Stumpkin HERE
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid Of Anything by Linda Williams
Once upon a time, there was a little old lady who was not afraid of anything! But one autumn night, while walking in the woods, the little old lady heard . . . clomp, clomp, shake, shake, clap, clap.
And the little old lady who was not afraid of anything had the scare of her life! With bouncy refrains and classic art, this timeless Halloween story is perfect for reading aloud.
The Spider And The Fly by Mary Howitt
“‘Will you walk into my parlor?”
said the Spider to the Fly…
is easily one of the most recognized and quoted first lines in all of English verse. But do you have any idea how the age-old tale of the Spider and the Fly ends? Join celebrated artist Tony DiTerlizzi as he — drawing inspiration from one of his loves, the classic Hollywood horror movies of the 1920s and 1930s — shines a cinematic spotlight on Mary Howitt’s warning, written to her own children about those who use sweet words to hide their not-so-sweet intentions.
The Haunted Ghoul Bus by Lisa Trumbauer
Of course children know about the big yellow school bus…but have they ever heard about the haunted ghoul bus? It’s wilder and way cooler, with a Mutant Mummy driver and a menagerie of monster passengers. But one Halloween
day someone else gets on board by mistake: a normal little boy. Soon he’s taking a ride with a furry werewolf, a skeleton whose rickety bones go clitter-clatter, a grinning pumpkin head, a swirl of bats, and a friendly witch named Dolores.
Best October Read Alouds
What are some of your favorite October read alouds? Are there any must read October read alouds that I left out? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it!
Remember: You can try a lesson and activity for Planting Stories by signing up here:
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