These 16 Halloween books are festive, fun, and just spooky enough to keep kids on the edge of their seats…but not enough to keep them up at night.
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Confession: I don’t really like Halloween. It’s my least favorite holiday of the year. I just don’t understand the fascination some people have for scary, undead, and/or gory things. I have far too vivid an imagination to be able to deal with anything frightening; even as an adult, I still get nightmares if I watch scary movies.
My three-year-old on the other hand, is intrigued by spooky things. A couple of months ago, he saw a haunted house as we were driving down the road and was captivated by it. He’s been telling me ever since that he wants to go to one. No way, kiddo. I’m certainly not going to one, and I’m not staying up half the night with you after you go. Maybe in 10 years we’ll discuss it again…maybe.
If we could all agree to just carve goofy jack-o-lanterns, dress up like our favorite (happy) literary character, and guzzle homemade root beer by the gallon, I could get behind that version of Halloween. Who’s with me?
That’s pretty much how I try to celebrate Halloween at our house these days in any case. We stick to G-rated spookiness, and we focus on candy and pumpkins more than anything else connected with Halloween.
In that spirit, I’ve collected a list of our favorite not-too-scary books to celebrate Halloween. Often I’m wary of seasonal books, especially when they are sequels to popular books. I’ve read one too many where it seemed like someone was trying to capitalize on the chance to make some money off of a random holiday, and the stories lack the charm of the original beloved stories.
These 16 books, however, are worth reading. I wasn’t originally going to do a Halloween book round up post because there are so many similar posts out there that cover the classics (some of which I have included below as well). But, a few weeks ago, Little Brother and I took a morning outing to Barnes and Noble and I discovered some new-to-me gems that I just had to share.
So, grab some apple cider, a cozy blanket, and your favorite kiddo, and try these on for size.
16 Not-Too-Scary Halloween Books Kids Will Love
The Ugly Pumpkin by Dave Horowitz
This story just makes me happy. In a silly spoof of The Ugly Ducking, a squashy-looking pumpkin learns that he’s not a pumpkin after all.
How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin by Margaret McNamara
This book is a great blend of fiction and non-fiction that teaches kids about the facts of a pumpkin. Did you know that you can tell how many seeds are in a pumpkin by the number of lines it has on the outside? Me neither…until I read this book. Perfect for preschoolers and up.
I Need My Monster by Amanda Nell
The common fear of monsters under the bed is turned on its head in this tale of a little boy who can’t fall asleep because his monster is nowhere to be found. With colorful and absurd illustrations of monsters who just can’t scare Ethan, this story will have kids giggling all the way to bed.
Mouse’s First Halloween by Lauren Thompson
In this simple story perfect for younger toddlers, mouse describes all the noises of Halloween…leaves falling, bats flitting about, and kids trick-or-treating. It’s a great introduction to onomatopoeia and a predictable story that little ones will love to help you tell.
Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White
What will Rebecca Estelle–who hates pumpkins–do when she ends up with an accidental bumper crop right in her front yard? Find out in one of our family’s very favorite Halloween stories. The text is a bit long, so you may have to abridge it a little for younger toddlers, but my three-year-old listens to the whole thing with rapt attention. It’s a great story about making the best of a less-than-ideal situation. Here’s a great read-aloud version to watch together.
Alpha Oops: H is for Halloween by Alethea Kontis
This is an ABC book like never before. In the same style as the original story which I shared in another book list, the alphabet gets a little crazy and mixed up in this Halloween version when A isn’t ready to start on time. And, poor B. The other letters keep taking his ideas for costumes. Kids can learn the alphabet and celebrate Halloween while learning words like kraken and lycanthrope. This is one of the favorites at our house right now. I’ve been reading it multiple times a day since we checked it out from the library last week.
The Very Best Pumpkin by Mark Kimball Moulton
This story is charming. Peter–whose grandparents own a pumpkin patch–raises his own practically perfect pumpkin with great care. As Halloween approaches, people come and go, taking pumpkins home with them, but Peter is waiting for someone special to appreciate his…the very best pumpkin. Nothing flashy here; just a sweet story to love with nothing spooky in it.
Spookie Pookie by Sandra Boynton
Sandra Boynton is completely brilliant. If you aren’t familiar with her, you need to RUN to the library and introduce yourself. She has a whole collection of silly, toddler friendly stories to make reading time fun. This Halloween story is no exception. Little ones will love turning the pages to see all the costumes Pookie tries on in an effort to choose the perfect one for Halloween night.
Little Boo by Stephen Wunderli
When Little Boo sees all the spooky things of Halloween, he really wants to be scary. But he’s not. At all. He’s just a seed after all. The wind, however, tells him to be patient, and this story follows him through an entire year…from seed to something truly festive. This is another fun read for preschoolers who sometimes just can’t wait to grow up.
Duck and Goose: Honk! Quack! Boo! by Tad Hills
Duck and Goose are worried…Thistle has warned them of a “swamp monster” that is sure to visit on Halloween. Will it show up? My boys love the Duck and Goose books, and this one lives up to the reputation this series has earned for fun, simple stories kids love.
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda D. Williams
No list of Halloween books would be complete without this classic. It’s a great book to pair with learning activities (Pinterest has TONS of ideas) and there is even a song version of the story. It’s just spooky enough to keep kids on the edge of their seats, but not enough to keep them up at night.
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
Beneath the surface of this silly story about a witch who keeps losing things is a great lesson about helping others and making friends. There are lots of fun ideas for learning activities to go with this one, and it would also be a great way to open up a discussion with kids about how there is always “room on the broom” for another friend.
Dracula: A BabyLit Counting Primer by Jennifer Adams
I LOVE the BabyLit books. When I was still teaching before the birth of my oldest son, our school’s librarian gave me the Jane Eyre and Alice in Wonderland BabyLit books as a baby shower gift (she’s stellar that way). I love that Jennifer Adams has turned Dracula into a counting primer (is anyone else reminiscing about the Count on Sesame Street right now?), and she has a bunch of other awesome books too. I’m dying to get my hands on the Edgar the Raven series she wrote inspired by Poe’s creepy short stories. She is endlessly creative!
Tacky and the Haunted Igloo by Helen Lester
I hope you know and love the Tacky the Penguin books. The original has a special place in my heart because I performed it at a storytelling festival when I was in first grade. Good memories. But, aside from nostalgia, Tacky is a delightfully quirky bird to read about. Despite his less-than-perfect qualities, he always manages to save the day–even if by accident. I’m often wary of seasonal sequels to books I love, but this one was a pleasant surprise.
Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell
A brilliantly educational story about a boy who doesn’t want to get rid of his beloved “Jack”-o-lantern after Halloween, this book shows kids the life cycle of a pumpkin in a creative way. I love books where you don’t even realize you’re learning until the story is over and you say, “Huh! I never knew that!”
Click, Clack, Boo! by Doreen Cronin
I have LONG loved the Click, Clack, Moo books…gotta love Duck. This one presents a funny juxtaposition of Farmer Brown, who really doesn’t like Halloween, with the animals, who are getting ready for a hootenanny in the barn. All your favorite characters, all the charm you would expect. This is a sequel worth reading.