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Time to Get Our Spooky On: Supernatural Book Lists and Talking About Cultural Appropriation

When the kids realized that Halloween would be "different" this year, they sort of freaked out. They love dressing up, decorating, and all things mildly spooky. Let's be real, so do the grown-ups in our family. As part of our conversation on how different things are, we've been using our radical imaginations to invent new traditions and to get rid of old patterns that do not serve us or the community.

For example, we use the fall and the Halloween season as an opportune time to initiate conversations about what cultural appropriation is and why it's so harmful. Articles like this one from NPR and the video and article titled "My Culture Is Not a Costume" from the ever thoughtful Teen Vogue are a few of the resources we've used in those discussions. I remember one of many early conversations I had with my son about cultural appropriation. He may have been 5 or 6. As part of the conversation, he determined that dressing up like a doctor is different than dressing up like someone's culture because anyone can be a doctor, but someone's culture is unique to their identity. That idea was foundational for ongoing conversations about appreciation versus appropriation and talking through some of the pieces of our multi-racial identities as well.

Along with our conversations about identity, costumes, and appropriation, we've been painting haunted houses, playing with creepy slime, and reading piles of books that feel festive for the season. We've been integrating more read-alouds and reading times as the season gets darker and have been enjoying the way the intersections of our collective reading experiences have been emerging naturally in our conversations. If we are all reading books that tap into ideas of identity and justice, we have lots of new ideas to discuss with each other that resonate.

Here are some of the spooky, cozy, magical books that are on our lists for the season.


How sweet is Gustavo the Shy Ghost by Flavia Drago? The gorgeous bright colors, cut paper designs, and smiley ghost are sure to delight. Sweets and Treats by Toni Trent Parker is one of those picture books that kids go back to again and again -- happy little ones in costumes definitely brighten a rainy October day. And My Baby Loves Halloween by Jabari Asim is just the type of board book my daughter would have loved to gaze at in between taking nibbles of the book spine. Purchase from our Book Shop to support our work or from any independent book seller near you :)


One of my favorite supernatural middle readers is How I Became a Ghost by Tim Tingle. This first book in the series features shapeshifters, talking dogs, and ghosts intertwined with the real history of the Trail of Tears. Beautiful and haunting. Vera's pick for middle readers is Eva Evergreen: Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe. As huge fans of Kiki's Delivery Service and of protagonists who have a little magic but aren't perfect, I think the whole family is going to enjoy this one! To see our entire mini-collection of supernatural picks for middle readers, visit our Supernatural Collection in the Reading Is Resistance Book Shop.


Zombies, ghosts, witches, magical murals, spirits -- there's something for everyone in our YA Supernatural Picks list for young adult readers. A little history, a lot of revolution. These books are thought provoking, affirming, empowering. Two of our favorites are Justina Ireland's Dread Nation and Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. To see our entire mini-collection of supernatural picks for YA readers, visit our Supernatural Collection in the reading Is Resistance Book Shop.

We hope you'll invite some of these books in to be part of this year's Halloween tradition.

And don't forget to support our Book Shop when purchasing our picks. Each purchase gives 10% back to Reading Is Resistance and helps us to keep doing the work we do :)

Let us know how this season is going to be different for your family this year. We'd love to hear from you. And tell us if you read any of our supernatural picks!


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