What makes a great Halloween book for kids? In my experience as a public school teacher, I found that any story with rhyme, humor, and a bit of “boo” will rank high with the early elementary crowd. These are my top ten picks for Halloween books for kids.
Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White. Although not a traditional Halloween book with ghosts, goblins, and monsters, Too Many Pumpkins is a great read nonetheless. Rebecca could not stand pumpkins. When she was a child, money had been tight. Pumpkins were all the family had to eat for a month. As an adult, Rebecca decided she would never eat pumpkin again. When a pumpkin falls from a truck, spilling seeds in her yard, Rebecca ends up with a surprise-a yard full of pumpkins that autumn. She decides to use the pumpkins to make all sorts of treats. She still had tons of pumpkins left, though. She cleverly carves jack-o-lanterns, attracting visitors to her home to eat the pumpkin treats and take home some goodies, too. Rebecca solved her problem by using her creativity. The story usually left my students wanting to know what was going to happen next, so it is one of the reasons it made my top ten list.
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams. When shoes, pants, and other articles of clothing chase the little old lady in the woods, she declares that she is not afraid of anything. Once back in her cottage, there is a knock at her door. The pumpkin head and clothing have come to scare her. Children love to chant along and make up dance moves to go along with the text, “two shoes go clomp, clomp, one pair of pants go wiggle, wiggle”.
Junie B., First Grader: BOO…and I MEAN It! by Barbara Park. Junie B. Jones decides that she should avoid Halloween because Pauli Allen Puffer has told her five scary secrets about the holiday. After coaxing from her mother, she decides to dress up and go trick-or-treating. She chooses to be a clown, so that she can scare away any of the real monsters that might come after her that night. Junie B. Jones books were popular amongst my students because of the often hilarious antics and grammatical errors of the main character.
Arthur’s Halloween by Marc Brown. Arthur, his sister, and his friends set out for a scary night of trick-or-treating. They know which houses to skip because some only give apples. They also think a witch lives in the scary house on the corner. When D.W. disappears into the witch’s house, Arthur must go in after her. Arthur is a bit frightened to be in the spooky house until he meets Mrs.Tibble, who is just an eldery woman who has needed help cleaning up her yard a bit. This story has familiar characters and a scary build-up, which is why it is a hit with children.
Inside a House That is Haunted by Alyssa Satin Capucilli. This Halloween book is a rebus read-long which follows the repetitive style of This is the House that Jack Built. Children love the Halloween cast of characters, and are invited to join in the reading of the tale.
A Dark, Dark Tale by Ruth Brown. The suspense builds as the reader is taken on a spooky adventure through dark, dark passageways. For eerie effect, this book should be read slowly in the dark, by flashlight, using a creepy voice.
I Spy Spooky Night by Jean Marzollo. This book was amazingly popular with my students. Well-written riddles serve as clues to help children search the pictures for Halloween things like spiders and bones, cleverly hidden in rooms of a haunted Victorian doll house.
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat by Lucille Colandro. A spin-off from There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, children love to sing along with this Halloween-themed book. The humorous illustrations and the chance for participation make this a short, yet lovable, Halloween story.
The Thirteen Nights of Halloween by Rebecca Dickinson. Taking on the singing format of The Twelve Days of Christmas, this book asks for participation from its audience. The book is full of fun, descriptive words and detailed illustrations that many children enjoy.
Boogie Bones by Elizabeth Loredo. Although not technically classified as a Halloween book, this story was popular amongst my students because it was about a skeleton who liked to dance. Skeletons can be scary–or humorous, in this case. Boogie Bones leaves the graveyard to enter a dance contest. Of course, he is disguised as a real human with clothing and hair. Imagine the crowd’s surprise when his clothes fly off during the lindy hop.
The next time you are at the library or your local bookstore, check out some of these Halloween titles that are sure to entertain your young ones.