This is not a warning, people. September is halfway over and October looms with promises of black cats, bats, vampires, werewolves, trick or treating, and every other delight the Halloween season has to offer.
It’s also time for scary stories and there’s no better way to foster an appreciation for things that go bump in the night and encourage your kids to read than by picking out a book or two (or three or four!) to share with them throughout the month of October!
With that in mind, I decided to pick out 13 children’s Halloween books (or books that are just creepy in general and perfect for the season) to get your list started!
Room on the Broom
Age Range: 3-7
Written by British playwright Linda Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, Room on the Broom tells the story of a high-flying witch and her cat familiar who invite a menagerie of animals to ride along on their broom on Halloween night.
The book has been translated into 21 languages since it was first published in 2002 and in 2012, it was adapted into an animated film narrated by Shaun of the Dead‘s Simon Pegg and starring Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) as the Witch. The film is available on Netflix and Amazon Prime so pair them up and have a great evening!
Age Range: 4-8 years
In 2012, author Aaron Reynolds and illustrator Peter Brown struck creepy gold when they penned the tale of Creepy Carrots!.
In the 40 page picture book, Jasper Rabbit loves the carrots that grow in Crackenhopper Field so much that he eats them every chance he gets. In fact, he finds excuses to pass the field just so he can grab his favorite snack.
One day, however, he notices carrots where they shouldn’t be…could it be that they’re following him? Surely, it’s just his imagination. Right?
The Caldecott Award winning books is available on Amazon!
Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody
Age Range: 1-3 years
Written and illustrated by Michael Rex Goodnight Goon is an entertaining parody of the classic Goodnight Moon.
It’s bedtime and all good monsters should be drifting off to sleep, but that won’t happen if the Goon has anything to say about it. This book is a light-hearted, slightly creepy walk through the cemetery that little ones will enjoy hearing read aloud!
Ghosts in the House
Age range: 3-6 years
Author and illustrator Kazuno Kohara penned this delightfully spooky little book about a little girl who lives in a house filled with ghosts!
The little girl just happens to be a witch however, and she sets to work washing, drying, and re-purposing those ghosts as everything from bed sheets to table cloths. Charming with a nice little underlying message, Ghosts in the House will be a favorite for your little ones.
The Widow’s Broom
Age range: 5-9 years
An old widow named Minna Shaw finds herself in possession of a real witch’s broom in Chris Van Allsburg’s The Widow’s Broom.
She teaches it to feed the chickens and chop wood for her fire, but the neighbors are nervous with a witch’s broom living so close. After an incident with two young boys, they demand the broom be handed over for burning. Minna Shaw complies but soon the ghost of the broom is seen flying through the air, and this tale is just beginning!
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
Age Range: 4-8 years
Written by Linda Williams and illustrated by Megan Lloyd, The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything is a timeless story about bravery in the face of terrifying circumstances.
The Little Old Lady is walking home late one night when she spies, along the way, a giant pair of boots, a pair of gloves, a shirt, and a giant pumpkin head! The items follow her home making scary noises before assembling themselves into a very scary Scarecrow, but the Little Old Lady isn’t scared.
She squares her shoulders and stands her ground! It’s a terrific lesson from a genuinely creepy book!
Age Range: 7-12 years
A young boy is astonished to find the stories his grandmother told him were true when he finds himself face to face with the Grand High Witch and her plot to wipe out all the children in the world in Roald Dahl’s classic The Witches.
Together with his friend and the help of his somewhat magical grandmother, they must stop the witch’s plot before it’s too late!
At around 200 pages, this is nice long form read with the kids and you can top it all off by watching the excellent film adaptation starring Anjelica Huston as the Grand High Witch!
Age Range: 8-12
R.L. Stine’s classic series of creepy books could not be left off this list. With demented dolls, shuffling mummies, giant insects, and so much more, there’s something for every kid in this amazing author’s repetoire!
Pick one, two, three, or more, and enjoy these fun and twisting tales together with your kids this Halloween!
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Age Range: 8-12 years
I mean, this had to be on the list, right?
Alvin Schwartz’s classic collection of creepy tales with harrowing illustrations by Stephen Gammell is perfect for kids who are getting old enough to leave the little kids behind. Everyone has their favorite tale in this three book collection, and they’re perfect to read throughout the month of October!
With the ongoing news of its film adaptation directed by Andre Ovredal, this Halloween is the perfect time to initiate the little ones into the spooky club.
The Graveyard Book
Age Range: 10-13 years
Definitely for kids with a stronger constitution, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman has won numerous awards including both the Hugo and the Newbery Medal.
A young boy named Bod has been raised his entire life by the ghosts and werewolves and other spooky denizens of the cemetery and has picked up more than a few tricks along the way, but trouble is on the horizon and he’ll need all of his skill to face it.
This is another book that’s perfect for a project through part of the month that parents and kids can read together, or if they’re ready for it, turn those kids loose and let them read it on their own!
A Tale Dark and Grimm
Age range: 10+ years
Hansel and Gretel wander out of their own stories and into other tales by the Brothers Grimm in this wickedly clever book by Adam Gidwitz with illustrations by Dan Santat.
Delving into the darker side of those famous tales we all heard growing up, A Tale Dark and Grimm is an excellent read for older kids. Gidwitz inserts his own darkly hilarious commentary along the way, and even takes a moment to warn squeamish readers when things are about to get twisted in a totally awesome way.
Age Range: 10-14
Hoo boy, is this one good!
Set in 1930s Alabama, Ronald L. Smith’s Hoodoo is the story of a boy named Hoodoo Hatcher who comes from a long line of conjure men and women who practice folk magic. The problem is that Hoodoo can’t seem to conjure at all.
The real trouble starts when The Stranger comes to town looking for a boy named Hoodoo. Before long, the boy must find his strength and channel those latent abilities to save his family, his town, and himself from the malevolent man.
This book is genuinely creepy, often funny, and has more than a touch of its own magic that older kids will love!
Age Range: 10-14
Zach, Alice, and Poppy are on the precipice of being too old for make-believe, but as they begin to wander away from the games they’ve played, Poppy starts having dreams of the Queen they created inspired by an old porcelain doll.
Soon, the three find themselves on a dark and perilous journey as they attempt to appease the Queen and face adolescence together in Holly Black’s Newbery Honor winning Doll Bones.
BONUS: Christopher Pumpkin
Age Range: 3-5 years
Look, being yourself is a running theme kid lit, but there’s just something so charming and fun about Christopher Pumpkin that is rises about its peers.
Christopher is brought to life along with a whole pumpkin patch worth of jack o’ lanterns by a witch who wants them to decorate her creepy castle for a party. The problem is, Christopher is just not interested in spider webs and bats wings. He’d much rather decorate with fairy lights and bunting.
Of course, Christopher blazes his own trail and learns something important along the way. This is a great book to read aloud and one that definitely deserves a place on your kid’s bookshelf!