Read-Aloud Favorites Plus Spooky Reads for Older Kids
Hands down, Halloween is the favorite holiday of children everywhere, and there are hundreds of Halloween books to choose from. For reluctant readers, you can easily find a Halloween book for any TV show your child loves, from Dora and Diego to Scooby Doo and the classic It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown — now available as an early reader paperback. Just about every popular book series, such as Clifford and Curious George, also has a Halloween title or two. Here’s a roundup of more Halloween books you can read aloud to younger children or suggest to older kids. Remember, some children aren’t ready for scary stories, while others wouldn’t think a book worth reading without a chill or a gross-out. Browse these great Halloween books with your young readers in mind.
Babies and Toddlers
Very young children may not know what Halloween means, but they enjoy simple images like “moon,” “cat,” and “pumpkin.”
1. Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody – Michael Rex
An adorable send-up of a classic you’re probably already reading to your toddler: “Goodnight tomb. Goodnight goon. Goodnight Martians taking over the moon.”
2. Mouse’s First Halloween – Lauren Thompson and Burket Erdogan
Mouse finds out that sounds he thought were scary really aren’t, in this gentle story for kids not ready for spookier Halloween tales.
3. Room on the Broom – Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Little ones will love the rhymes and the many animals in this story, for whom there’s always room on the broom.
4. Where is Baby’s Pumpkin? – Karen Katz
Babies are known for destroying pop-up books, but lift-the-flap books like this Halloween-themed offering are perfect.
5. Scratch and Sniff: Halloween – Nicola Deschamps
My toddler absolutely loves scratch-and-sniff books. This one has minimal text and all the classic Halloween icons, plus the scents of apples, candy, and more.
6. My Monster Mama Loves Me So – Laura Leuck and Mark Buehner
A baby monster knows his Mama loves him because “She gives me great big hairy hugs / bakes me cookies filled with bugs.” A charmer for bedtime.
Preschool and Kindergarten
Not a scare in the bunch for this age group, who can follow a story and love the make-believe creatures they can become in their costumes.
7. The Big Pumpkin – Erica Silverman
A witch wants to cook a pumpkin pie, but it’s stuck on the vine. A ghost, a vampire, a mummy, and a bat come to her aid in this entertaining and not-too-scary story.
8. The Night Before Halloween – Natasha Wing
A Halloween-style remake of the classic Christmas poem has the Halloween creatures preparing for trick-or-treaters. Kids will love the rhyme and the whimiscal illustrations whether they know the Christmas version or not.
9. Leonardo the Terrible Monster – Mo Willems
Leonardo’s supposed to be a terrible monster, but really he’s simply terrible at scaring anyone. He’s sure he’s succeeded when he meets Sam. A sweet story for the younger set.
10. The Hallo-Wiener – Dav Pilkey
Oscar the dachshund wants to be something really scary for Halloween, but his mother dresses him in a giant hot dog bun, “complete with mustard.” Kindergarteners will giggle uncontrollably at Oscar’s misfortunes.
Grades 1 to 3
Five offerings for for elementary school children craving a few chills — and some comedy — in their Halloween books.
11. Annie Was Warned – Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Annie goes to the haunted mansion on Halloween on a dare, and encounters bats, spiders, and more. Deliciously scary.
12. Scary, Scary Halloween – Eve Bunting and Jan Brett
This Halloween classic offers a bit of a scare for kids who are ready for it, as a group of cats study the monsters that pass by in the night — children going trick-or-treating.
13. The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything – Linda Williams and Megan Lloyd
Perfect for reading aloud,this the mildly spooky story of a little old lady and the ghost that appears to her bit by bit. Kids will love the affirmation “I’m not afraid of you!”
14. Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich – Adam Rex
Illustrated poems describing the lives of well-known monsters, with some gory details to thrill little spooks.
15. In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories – Alvin Schwartz and Dirk Zimmer
Seven spine-tingling Halloween-themed stories for early readers.
Chapter books and longer-text illustrated books are perfect for middle schoolers, who love to be scared sometimes (just like their parents!)
16. Cinderella Skeleton – Robert D. San Souci and David Catrow
For older children who are familiar with the Cinderella story, here’s a classic tale with a Halloween spin and some delightfully gross details.
17. The Widow’s Broom – Van Allsburg
A lonely widow finds a witch who’s fallen out of the sky in her vegetable garden, and inherits the witch’s broom — to the displeasure of the neighbors.
18. The Witch Family – Estes
“One day, Old Witch, the head witch of all the witches, was banished. Amy, just an ordinary real girl, not a witch, said Old Witch would have to go away.” A must-read about the power of imagination, for little girls who are as fascinated with witches as I was.
19. Dial-a-Ghost – Eva Ibbotson
Eva Ibbotson’s fantasy novels always feature intrepid children paired with endearing supernatural creatures against the menace of “real world” threats. In Dial-a-Ghost, Oliver’s diabolical cousins try to scare him out of his inheritance by “dialing a ghost,” but the gentle spooks who take the job become Oliver’s friends and protectors.
20. The Halloween Tree – Ray Bradbury
A wild ride for eight boys on Halloween night — and a graceful way for parents and librarians to teach about Halloween customs around the world.
21. The Best Halloween Ever – Barbara Robinson
The kids from “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” are back with a hilarious story of Halloween gone wrong, when teachers and parents try to keep the kids from trick-or-treating to avoid the havoc caused by the Herdmans.
22. Full Moon Halloween – R.L. Stine
“You hold in your hand the key to a shadow world of shivers and screams. Take a step away from the safe, comfortable world you know. Unlock the door to terror. There’s always room for one more in…The Nightmare Room.” A Halloween book list wouldn’t be complete without mention of R.L. Stine, the Stephen King of the younger set. Check out the rest of The Nightmare Room series.