Parenting

10 Best Spooky Halloween Books for Families to Enjoy

With the leaves falling and grocery stores stocked to bursting with candy corn and bags of miniature-sized trick-or-treating chocolates, my kids are over the moon with excitement about Halloween. Reading is a big part of our family and it’s fun to turn the page from our regular fare and enjoy some spooky Halloween tales together. Here are 10 spooky Halloween books that your family may enjoy as well:

10. Little Blue Truck’s Halloween by Alice Schertle

Image Courtesy of Amazon

Image Courtesy of Amazon

My two-year-old son absolutely loses his mind for trucks. Any kind of large machine with wheels lights his face up like a jack-o-lantern. This book is a sequel to another favorite, Little Blue Truck. In this one, the titular azure automobile heads around the forest picking up his various critter friends and taking them to a costume party!

9. Halloween ABC (Little Golden Book) by Sarah Albee

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This is another book for little ones, about a neighborhood full of happy trick-or-treaters, all dolled up in costumes starting with alphabet letters. My kids love trying to guess what the next costume will be and the baby loves looking at the classic Little Golden Book illustrations.

8. A Halloween Scare in Illinois (or your state!) by Eric James

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Image Courtesy of Amazon

Boy, I wish I had this idea! What a fabulous concept. This is a whole series of 50+ books that has one for every state, as well as major cities like Chicago, Boston, New York City, etc. So in addition to being a fun Halloween book, you also get to toss in some geography and history lessons while the kids are having fun looking at the illustrations of spooky bats and cackling witches flying around famous landmarks. It’s genius.

Next page: Some books for older kids

7. There Was An Old Mummy Who Swallowed a Spider by Jennifer Ward

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Image Courtesy of Amazon

This is another one that’s part of a series, with all the books riffing on the favorite childhood song “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly.” The illustrations are wonderful, depicting all of the creepy things that the silly mummy swallows, from rats to witch’s brew to ghosts and everything else that screams “Halloween.”

6. The Spooky Wheels on the Bus by J. Elizabeth Mills

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All kids love singing the “Wheels on the Bus” song. Here’s a version with a Halloween twist that counts up from the famed spooky bus all the way up to ten goofy ghosts, with each set of new arrivals to the bus adding fun new sounds (like noisy cats meowing and hissing or ghosts saying boo-oo-oo) all through the town.

5. Mommy, Why Don’t We Celebrate Halloween? by Linda Hacon Winwood

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Some families don’t celebrate Halloween and that should be respected. While I don’t agree with many of the things that the author of this book feels toward the holiday, I think it’s good for parents who feel strongly against Halloween to have an option on the bookshelf, to help explain why their kids don’t get to dress up and trick-or-treat like the other kids in their neighborhood. And maybe your children have friends who don’t celebrate Halloween and this book could help them understand why.

Next page: Something a little more mature

4. Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween by Lisa Morton

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This is a good counterpoint to Linda Hacon Winwood’s “Mommy, Why Don’t We Celebrate Halloween?” though it’s written for adults. It is a quick history of the true origins of Halloween and how it became a popular holiday in America, really taking off in the 1920s and quickly evolving into the trick-or-treating and costume parties we know today. Morton dispels a lot of myths and misperceptions and gives you an origin story for everything from jack-o-lanterns to bobbing for apples and trick-or-treating itself. I learned so much from this book that it shocked me. The book also debunks many of the urban legends that hysterical people still repeat as if they were true, like the razor blades in candy apples thing (that never really happened) that the news media used to create mad dashes to the emergency rooms to have Halloween candy x-rayed in the 1980s. It was astonishing reading that so much fear mongering about this one holiday is all just lies that have no basis in reality.

3. Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery by James and Deborah Howe

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This is a chapter book about a family (including a dog and cat) that welcomes into their home a vampire rabbit that sucks the juice out of carrots and other veggies. There’s a whole series of Bunnicula books, which have been used as the inspiration for a recent cartoon show on Cartoon Network. The original Bunnicula stories are charming little mysteries that kids can have fun trying to solve as you read them together as a family.

2. The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

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What I love about this story is that it employs the device of a magical kite that can soar through time and space. The characters visit ancient Egypt to learn about mummies…then fly off to meet up with cavemen, druids, and medieval gargoyles. Walt Disney loved this book so much that in Disneyland every year near the Frontierland part of the park they decorate a “Halloween Tree” with little pumpkins and grinning skulls in honor of Ray Bradbury.

1. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

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Image Courtesy of Amazon

This book is like Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” meets Disney’s Haunted Mansion. It is set inside an old, spooky graveyard in England where a bunch of ghosts, a werewolf, and a vampire take on the job of raising an orphaned little boy to manhood. Instead of antagonists like Shere Khan or King Louie, there are ghouls and a boogeyman-like assassin. Just like with “The Jungle Book,” there are amusing and silly interludes punctuated by adventure and danger…all culminating in the day when the little boy who grew up in the cemetery (instead of the jungle) becomes an adult man and must bid adieu to the dearly departed who had become his family. He then makes his way in the world on his own, no longer protected by the magic of the graveyard and all the spirits who took care of him there.