With Halloween just around the corner, it is time to break out the scary stories, but not too scary! We do want to sleep in October, after all! Find your chills and goosebumps with these scary Halloween themed books.
Create the mood as you read these books and listen to the stories by turning out the lights, and reading by candle or flashlight. Or create a blanket fort for reading in. Then have your child make up their own scary stories. Giving them some control over the storytelling will help them understand that these are just stories. When my kids were younger we not only read many of these great books but started a tradition of listening to The War of the Worlds by Orson Wells and The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe after trick or treating.
I arranged these recommendations by age to help you know what is appropriate for younger children. You know your child best, though, so some younger children may be OK with a scarier tale and some preschoolers may only go for the tamer stories.
A Dark, Dark Tale by Ruth Brown- Most of us are familiar with this story from our childhood, but this one ends not with a ghost but a mouse. And we are left wondering who should be more scared: the mouse or the cat who finds it. This story includes the right amount of suspense for even the youngest child who will love the repetitive text.
Five Little Pumpkins by Dan Yaccarino - Based on the finger play, this story tells the adventure of 5 little pumpkins as they enjoy the chills of Halloween! Be sure to add hand motions with the words, the sounds of the wind, and clap your hands when the candles are blown out!
Goodnight, Goon by Michael Rex- A parody of Goodnight Moon set in the nursery of a little goon. If your child is familiar with Goodnight Moon, they will enjoy the joke, as well as the silliness of this book.
Sheep Trick or Treat by Nancy E. Shaw and Margot Apple- The sheep are out once again having another misadventure! A wonderful mixture of scary and silly! Your child will laugh at their antics!
By The Light of the Halloween Moon by Caroline Stutson and Kevin Hawkes- A toe "taps a tune in the dead of the night” in this tale narrowly escaping all sorts of harrowing creatures. At the end, you find out those toes belong to a very capable girl and that there is a party of sorts going on. Halloween is the night even monsters celebrate, after all!
The Bones of Fred McFee by Eve Bunting and Kurt Cyrus- Two children bring home a skeleton from the harvest fair and hang it in their sycamore tree. He is only made of plastic so he can't be real, can he? A very eerie, ghostly tale!
Here They Come by David Hyde Costello- Monsters of all kinds and sizes frolic on Halloween night in the forest, until the scariest of creatures comes along. Who knew monsters were so scared of children? But it is true, they are very scared of children, and tend to hide when they are around. Use this tale to create a celebratory Halloween mood, and to confirm to your child that monsters are more afraid of children than children are of them!
Even Monsters Need Haircuts by Matthew McElligott- In the dark of the night, a boy sneaks out of his house and into the barber shop to give monsters their much needed haircuts. At the end, they need to clean so there is no hint they were there since the boy's father is coming to give humans haircuts in the morning! This book makes monsters a little less scary and a little more human!
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams and Megan Lloyd- No matter what follows her home, this little old lady is not afraid of it, and in the end finds the perfect job for her new found friend. Consider making your own scarecrow (a carved pumpkin head in newspaper stuffed clothes sitting on your porch) after reading this!
The Spider and the Fly by Tony DiTerlizzi (based on the poem by Mary Howitt) - A very treacherous, but flattering spider courts a fly in this cautionary tale. Not a Halloween story per se, but just delightfully scary and suspenseful enough to fit the season perfectly! A great story that not only teaches about the dangers of listening to a flatterer, but also to talk about the role spiders play in the environment.
Zen Ghosts by Jon J. Muth- In this gorgeously illustrated book, children go trick or treating, then come back for a ghost story. The story is very mysterious and is maybe happening to them as they listen. A wonderful twist at the end of this book that makes one think about the nature of who we are.
I hope these stories give you and your child just the right amount of spine tingling chills! As always, feel free to share, with credit to Words Reflected and Kim Bogren Owen, on Facebook, your website, or if you are an Early Childhood program, in your newsletter. Add your own Halloween book recommendations in the comments since you can never have too many books!