My friends and family get a lot of unsolicited book recommendations and one of my greatest joys is matching the right person with the right book. This month I want to tell you about some favorite Halloween books for kids.
I try to think outside the box a bit when suggesting books close to holidays. Classics and new titles tend to all check out pretty quickly. Luckily, there are a lot of unexpected books that work well for Halloween.
Anything about monsters, fear, ghosts, costumes, or fall can be a good fit in our line up of favorite Halloween books for kids. I believe that everyone benefits from being read to, so I’ve made sure to suggest some books for kids who might think that they’ve outgrown picture books.
(Note: I’ve included an age-range as a suggestion for each book. Every kid is different and these are meant to be a simple guide. The ages are based on the content for reading aloud, not reading level.)
Traditional Favorite Halloween Book picks
The Ugly Pumpkin by Dave Horowitz is my favorite traditional Halloween book. It’s a rhyming, funny tale about rejection and belonging. If works for a variety of ages – my 2-year-old loves it and I’ve successfully read it to early elementary kids. (2-5 years)
Finnigin and his giant appetite have a bad reputation in Bone Soup by Cambria Evans. He’s looking for a Halloween feast as he arrives in a new town, but no one will share their food with him. This fun favorite Halloween book features adorable, yet scary illustrations and a clever hero. (6-9 years)
The Widow’s Broom by Chris Van Allsburg
I love all of Chris Van Allsburg’s books (he’s famous for The Polar Express and Jumanji), but this one is hands-down my favorite about an old widow who takes in a witch who falls from the sky. And when the witch heals and departs, she leaves behind her broom which turns out to be very useful to the widow. The neighbors, though, aren’t so sure about this magical broom.
Other traditional Halloween books you may enjoy: Scary, Scary Halloween by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Jan Brett (4-8 years); Funnybones by Janet and Allan Ahlberg (3-5 years); Popcorn by Frank Asch (4-8 years); Dem Bones by Bob Barner; No Such Thing by Ella Bailey (3-7 years); Cinderella Skeleton by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by David Catrow.
Tales of fear
What There is Before There is Anything There (A Scary Story) by Liniers is legitimately scary. I’m a huge wimp, so as a kid, this book would have given me nightmares. If you have a kid who likes to be spooked, this brief, simple story might be a good bet. If you’re trying to avoid a midnight guests in your bed, make sure you avoid this one! (4+ years)
Laszlo is afraid of the dark. In The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen he develops a relationship with the dark and overcomes his fear. Klassen’s distinctive style pairs perfectly with Snicket’s thoughtful pacing. This read is scary and reassuring at the same time. (5-10 years)
Creepy Carrots and Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown set out to prove that sometimes, being afraid can be hilarious. Poor Jasper Bunny can’t get a break. He is stalked by creepy carrots and afraid of his own ghoulish, green underwear in these two tales of unusual hauntings. Brown’s black and white movie style illustrations, featuring only the creepy item in color, are a perfect backdrop for Reyonlds’ Hitchcock-for-kids stories.
Other terrifying tales you may enjoy: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz (8-12 years); Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley.(2-7 years); Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories by Roald Dahl (12+ years).
Monsters, zombies, and other fearsome creatures
Grouch, Grump, and little Gloom ’n’ Doom created a big monster and they were excitedly waiting to see the havoc their monster would cause for the monster-fearing village they overlooked from their monster castle. But when they unwrap their creation, they’re in for a big surprise. The Monsters’ Monster by Patrick McDonnell features McDonnell’s distinctive, charming illustrations and a surprisingly sweet monster tale. (4-8 years)
Peanut Butter & Brains: A Zombie Culinary Tale by Joe McGee, illustrated by Charles Santoso is one of my household’s year-round favorites. We love this tale of Reginald, a zombie who craves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches instead of brains, and a town overrun by a zombie hoard. There are few favorite Halloween picture books more fun to read aloud than this hilarious adventure. (3-8 years)
Other creature featured books you may enjoy: Monster Trouble by Lane Fredrickson, illustrated by Michael Robertson (3-8 years); I Want to Eat Your Books by Karin LeFranc and Tyler Parker (3-7 years); Vampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by LeUyen Pham (2-6 years); Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara (2-6 years).