‘Tis the season for scary stories. And while it isn’t time to introduce your kids to the Poes, Jacksons, or Lovecrafts of the world, there are plenty of smart, genuinely entertaining Halloween books for kids that nail the seasonal vibe without supplying the nightmare fuel. The best Halloween books for toddlers and kids provide a little bit of spookiness and a whole lot of silliness. They build suspense without making your kid genuinely afraid. These twelve Halloween children’s books, including classics like Dr. Seuss and the Berenstain Bears, work all year round, as they tackle such universal themes as fear, greed, and loneliness, while enchanting kids with silly illustrations and silly stories. If you’re looking for halloween books for kids that deserve a spot on your regular bedtime reading collection, these certainly do the trick and treat.
Darkness is the Big Bad of childhood narratives. What might be out there? What’s making that noise? Is that a shadow of a stick or a witch’s finger beckoning me? A mighty foe requires a pair of talented heroes. Luckily, children’s book icons Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen were up to the task in this 2013 book about a child named Laszlo who fears the darkness that is normally banished to his home’s basement until one night it’s not. Fear-conquering occurs but only after lots of sparse prose and silky drawings of the dark.
This Caldecott-Honored book tells the tale of a Jasper, young carrot-lover who has a habit of picking the orange veggies from a field he shouldn’t. One Halloween, he’s stalked by evil versions of them. Or is he!? Peter Brown's hilarious might freak toddlers out a tiny bit. Either way, they'll learn a fun lesson in not being greedy.
It's hard to make friends; it’s especially tough when you’re a ghost. This beautifully written and illustrated, book tells the tale of a young spirit who, after his attempts to welcome his home’s new occupants backfire, adventures out into the world and meets someone who understand him. Spooky? Not so much. Sentimental? Certainly.
Whether you're celebrating a time-honored tradition or learning about Dia De Los Muertos for the first time, this book is the perfect multicultural primer. It paints a gorgeous, rhyming picture of an autumn ritual that doesn't revolve around demanding a sugar fix from your neighbors, and seamlessly interweaves Spanish vocabulary to help you both bone up on a second language. Because of all the skulls. You get it.
A little girl dangles her legs off a footbridge, and one by one a gang of things that go bump — cats, bats, ghosts, witches, and more — take aim at her toes from underneath. She's always in control, though, and comically resolves things in the end with a Halloween tune. Compared to ghouls and goblins, grandparental cheek pinching will seem benign. You got this, kid.
A pair of children's book legends (and an unlikely team at that) combined to deliver a new Halloween classic. Stine's signature, but significantly ratcheted down, creep factor drives the narrative while Brown's imaginative illustrations bring the wild creatures to life. It's a spooky tale for kids three and up.
This former Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year winner tones down the candy and goblins and taps into the true spirit of Halloween dress-up: kids' desires to live their dreams, whether they long to be a flying witch, Batman, or, like, a hip Mummy.
The first rule of Fright Club is … no bunnies? Unless the bunnies sue your ass and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they can scare, too. Chuckling at the over-their-head references is gravy on top of watching your kid mirror the freakish faces and sounds of Vladimir the Vampire, Fran K. Stein, Sandy Witch, and Virginia Wolf. Who's afraid of her, anyway?
This spooky board book follows Thing 1 and Thing 2 (of Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat) as they try on all kinds of Halloween costumes. It has the signature rhyming sequence that Dr. Seuss is known for, but is pared down to a short board book fit for babies and toddlers.
This classic Dr. Seuss story is just as silly as it is scary, so it engages kids without sending them to bed with nightmares. It follows a narrator deep into the woods as they follow a mysteriously empty pair of green pants. Glow in the dark ink and stickers make it perfect for reading in the dark.
In this Berenstain Bears story, the three youngest Berenstains explore a spooky old tree. Vivid illustrations and just the right level of scariness make it a popular classic.
This famous story follows the narrator, Coraline, as she accidentally steps into an alternate universe, into a home and family like her own. At first, it's a dream come true, but soon Coraline discovers that her new family wants her to stay for good. This 10th-anniversary edition comes with a reading guide, and the whole family can watch the movie afterward.
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