If you’ve been planning that father-child Luke-carrying-Yoda costume since the moment you found out you were going to have a kid, congratulations, October 31 is your time to shine. Another perk of fatherhood around this time of year: all the candy you can eat. You’re about to find out that taking it from a baby really is as easy as advertised. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s cruel. You’re teaching the kid a valuable lesson in healthy diet and dental hygiene, not to mention nipping that sugar rush before it happens. Otherwise they’ll never pay attention to these 9 great Halloween books — or fall asleep after you finish reading.
Submitted for the approval of you and your kid … a book by a guy whose name sounds like a Dr. Seuss character in which the dark is a physical character that helps a footie-clad kid not fear him anymore. MWAHAHA! Okay, maybe not as scary as a certain SNICK show you couldn’t help yourself from watching, but if you still have nightmares about that, this might help you, too.
The Dark by Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen ($13)
If your kid’s #1 fear is getting vegetables for Halloween, this book will scare the crap out of them. Otherwise, Peter Brown’s hilarious, Caldecott Honor-worthy illustrations of Jasper Rabbit being stalked by giant, evil versions of the carrots he loves to steal might just freak them out a tiny bit. Either way, they’ll learn a fun lesson in not being greedy. Otherwise, you’ll have to rap one to them.
Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown ($13)
It’s hard to make friends when you’re a ghost, just ask Haley Joel Osment. Yes, references from 1999 are still totally relevant. That was M. Night Shyamalan’s finest work! Anyway, this is beautifully written and illustrated, it will teach your kid all about friendship, and you won’t have to subject them (or yourself) to a different friendly ghost who’s an even more outdated reference.
Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett and Christian Robinson ($9)
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.
Dia De Los Muertos by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and Carles Ballesteros ($14)
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.
By The Light Of The Halloween Moon by Caroline Stutson and Kevin Hawkes ($4)
A pair of children’s book legends (and an unlikely team at that) have combined to deliver a new Halloween classic. Stine’s signature creep factor drives the narrative while Brown’s imaginative illustrations bring the wild creatures to life. Much to your kid’s dismay, none of the monsters eat their dentist. Different little shop.
Little Shop Of Monsters by R.L. Stine and Marc Brown ($13)
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 whichever one of the same 5 costumes kids always pick. Unless they’re dressed as a pumpkin. No one wants to be a pumpkin.
Only A Witch Can Fly by Alison McGhee and Taeeun Yoo ($14)
A diverse pack of pirate kids marauds for gold[-wrapped chocolate] and turns the neighborhood into a fantastical pirate island. When a shadowy figure emerges, they must protect their booties as sunset approaches. This book will appeal to any kid who ever wanted to play pirates (so, all of them), even if the stakes here are considerably lower than when this terrible kid crew took to the seas.
Trick Arrr Treat by Leslie Kimmelman and Jorge Monlongo ($7)
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?
Fright Club by Ethan Long ($12)