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.