Celebrating Spooky Season with the New Worlds Reading Initiative

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As a mom and former teacher, I’m passionate about helping little ones develop a love of reading. That’s why I am so excited to be partnering with the New Worlds Reading Initiative for Spooky Season! Based on popular children’s books, these two fun, spooktacular craft ideas will encourage creativity while working on important literacy skills.

Scholastic books with pumpkin craft and cookies

📚 “Reading Makes You, You” Campaign

The New Worlds Reading Initiative is based in my own home state of Florida and helps kids who are not yet reading on grade level. They’re doing this by delivering free books and reading resources to eligible K-5th grade students in the state. This fantastic program combines reading skills with fun and creative activities to foster connections and a love of reading.

Books with matching crafts and snacks

Because fall is in the air, we’re creating fun and imaginative ways to encourage the love of reading with our favorite fa-boo-lous, book-inspired activities! All you need are a few simple items and some little creative hands. While you’re crafting, you can help your children connect to the stories by discussing the books and even acting out favorite parts. There’s no better way to celebrate the spooky season!

🐊 Alligator Painted Pumpkin

Kids will love putting a spooky alligator twist on their painted pumpkins this year! In the book, Who Would Win? Alligator vs. Python, they’ll learn all sorts of fun facts about both creepy reptiles.

This is an easy and super cute craft that families can create and give their own spin. Once they’ve painted their pumpkins, complete with a great big mouth, encourage them to tell you why they think their alligator would win in an epic reptile battle! You can add Goldfish Crackers or Swedish Fish candy in or near its mouth just to let everyone know it’s a friendly, fish-eating-only alligator. 😉

What You’ll Need

Alligator Pumpkin Supplies


  • Scissors
  • Paintbrush
  • Glue gun
  • Glue sticks
  • Black marker


  • Craft or real pumpkin
  • Cardboard
  • Green craft paint
  • Pink craft foam
  • White craft foam
  • Googly eyes
  • Printable template (optional)

How To Do It

Step 1: Cut two cardboard pieces for the top and bottom of the alligator mouth and a third cardboard piece for the tail. Use pink craft foam to make an alligator tongue.

Note: If using a small craft pumpkin, you can print this alligator pumpkin template and trace the pieces. If using a larger pumpkin, you’ll just want to print the template on a larger scale.

Tracing template for alligator pumpkin

Step 2: Paint pumpkin and cardboard pieces with green craft paint. Let them dry.

Craft pumpkin and cardboard pieces painted green

Step 3: Glue the pink tongue to one of the pieces you painted for the snout.

Tongue for alligator pumpkin

Step 4: Cut a 1″ strip of white craft foam, then cut pieces at an angle to create alligator teeth.

Cutting teeth for pumpkin craft

Step 5: Use hot glue to attach the teeth to the cardboard snout pieces, with the tongue on the same side as the teeth. If there are extra teeth left over, you can glue them onto the tail to give him some spooky spikes.

Mouth and tail for alligator pumpkin

Step 6: Use the hot glue to attach the snout to the front of the pumpkin.

Alligator mouth glued to pumpkin

Step 7: Attach the tail to the back of the pumpkin.

Alligator tail glued to pumpkin

Step 8: Glue the eyes to the front of the alligator.

Eyes for alligator

Step 9: Finally, use a black marker to create two nostrils on top of the snout.

Nostrils for alligator pumpkin

That’s all there is to it! Now your child has a fun craft to go along with their favorite book. If you’re feeling extra crafty, make a pumpkin python and have them battle it out—the winner is the one with the most convincing, fact-based case for which reptilian pumpkin would win!

Alligator pumpkin with book

🔤 Alphabet Cookie Snack

The best crafts are the ones you can eat! The inspiration for this activity comes straight from the book, The Word Collector. It’s a very sweet and touching story about a little boy who has an unusual hobby of collecting his favorite words.

For these alphabet cookie snacks, you can start with pre-made cookies, store-bought cookie dough, or you can use your favorite cookie recipe. Encourage your little ones to spell out as many spooky words as they can, then decorate them with colorful candy melts and festive sprinkles. Making them is almost as much fun as eating them!

Alphabet Cookies Supplies

What You’ll Need

  • Alphabet cookies
  • Green candy melts
  • Purple candy melts
  • Orange candy melts
  • Sprinkles
  • Candy eyes
  • Lollipop sticks

How to Do it

Step 1: Make some spooky words with your cookies.

Alphabet cookies in counter

Step 2: Melt green candy melts in the microwave, stirring every 15 seconds until smooth. Repeat with purple candy melts. Place chocolate into separate icing bags and drizzle over cookies.

Alphabet cookies with candy melts drizzled over the top

Step 3: Add sprinkles and candy eyes, making sure to do so before the chocolate hardens.

Alphabet cookies with sprinkles and candy eyes

Step 4: Melt orange candy melts in the microwave, stirring every 15 seconds until melted. Place it in an icing bag and trace over the letters on the cookies.

Alphabet cookies made into words

Step 5 (optional): To make your cookies extra spooky, trace over the letters with black candy melts too.

Alphabet cookies with black candy melts

Step 6: Add some of the melted candy to the back of the cookies, then attach to your lollipop stick. Place in the fridge to harden.

Piping orange candy melts onto cookie

Step 7: Now comes the best part…eating them!

Alphabet cookies with The Word Collector book

These books are perfect for creating your own spooky crafts and snacks. What’s more, you can customize these activities to any favorite book, any time of year!

I hope you and your kids have as much fun making these spooky book-inspired crafts as my family did. Check out the New Worlds Reading Initiative website to learn more about what they’re doing to help advance literacy and a love of reading—and to see whether your child might be eligible to enroll in this amazing, free program!

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