Some of the most memorable books from my childhood were the ones that were creepy and scary. As Halloween is fast approaching, I’ve compiled a list of favorite Halloween books for kids, with a separate list for older kids, that will celebrate the season with goosebumps, giggles and gasps.
Spooky Picture Books for All Kids
The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree Three little bears explore a spooky old tree with just a light, stick and a rope. It ends with an epic chase home to their mother's arms. A childhood favorite of mine and hands-down the favorite Halloween book in my home.
Too-Scary Story Two children ask their dad to tell them a scary story and interrupt with suggestions of their own. A very sweet book full of imagination and suspense.
The Monster at the End of this Book Another childhood classic, in this book Sesame Street's Grover is begging the reader not to turn the pages and read the story because there's a monster at the end! First-time readers will be nervous and then laugh at the ending.
What Was I Scared of? A Glow-in-The-Dark book by Dr. Seuss that's funny and spooky about a pair of haunting pants
Beware of the Frog Every October, I read this book to the classrooms of my children and it's always a huge hit. Instead of a guard dog, an old lady has a guard frog that eats monsters. The ending is morbid and a complete shock, but full of such humor and charm.
Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman A girl suspects wolves are living inside her walls! Neil Gaiman is a master at goth and creepy stories and this time, he uses his skills in a picture book for preschoolers. The book even had my oldest children nervous with anticipation and concern.
The Dark By Lemony Snicket, this book is all about dark homes and spooky basements but has a sweet ending
Boo! The perfect Halloween book for toddlers, it introduces all the fun and spooky parts we love about this holiday
Splat the Cat: What Was That? Splat's nervous about all the things he hears and sees at a spooky house - and an added bonus to the reader is that there are flaps that force you to be courageous to lift up and peak at the surprises.
Goodnight Goon The story is simple and (mostly) sweet like the bedtime staple Goodnight Moon, but it's the illustrations that make this board book creepy, gory and memorable.
Mouse, Look Out! A cat is stalking a mouse and the reader feels both hunted and doomed to become prey. Fun suspense and excitement.
Leo A Ghost Story A sweet book about a lonely ghost named Leo who just wants to make some friends. Which of course is tricky, because everyone scared of him!
Ghosts In The House A young witch and her cat take on a house full of ghosts in this wonderful book. I especially love the gorgeous wood-cut art and the story's strong heroine who's crafty and brave.
Spooky Chapter Books for Kids ages 7 and up
The Witches Master storyteller Roal Dahl delivers a short novel that gave me nightmares (especially the movie version with Angelica Houston). I looked at the feet of suspicious adults for years to see if they were square!
Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark An absolute classic and must to read each Halloween. It's worth it to own all three in the series. Turn off the lights, light a few candles and lock the doors!
Serafina and the Black Cloak The unique child Serafina must live in the shadows but when children start to disappear, she works to solve the mystery and discovers a lot about her own wild origins. Suspenseful, gripping and with a villain that is horrific. I especially love that it's set at the Biltmore Estate with its real secret passageways and curiousities.
In A Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories A collection of short stories, the one about a girl with a green ribbon around her neck haunted me throughout my childhood and I kept reading it and reading it anyway!
Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story Siblings Molly and Michael move into a creepy church and an even creepier graveyard with their mom's new husband and his daughter, who becomes entranced with a ghost named Helen. Very suspenseful and although the ending is predictable, it's still a page-turner.
The Graveyard Book The geniuses behind Coraline (Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean) created a novel with suspenseful stories and beautifully-creepy illustrations. Nobody 'Bod' Owens grows up in a graveyard raised by ghosts as he figures out what it means to be human.
Doll Bones More creepy than scary, this award-winning story takes childhood friends into middle school years where make-believe games become too real.
The Girl Who Drank The Moon My fifth-grade daughter and I both adored this novel, with themes of good/evil, family identity, courage and kindness. The villain is terrifying and so evil that you'll devour the ending with suspense and satisfaction.
The House With A Clock In Its Walls Lewis Barnavelt is an orphan who lives with his uncle, a magician/wizard, in a huge house with a ticking clock in its walls. A big mystery, a battle of witches - it's scary good fun. There's also a movie based on the book out in theaters (starring Jack Black/Cate Blanchett).
Dare To Be Scared: Thirteen Stories to Chill and Thrill These short stories are more tame but still scary enough to be memorable. Recommended for kids that want to be mildly creeped out.
Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror Well-written stories that are clever, odd and of course, scary. If you appreciate Edward Gorey, then you will love this book, the illustrations are especially fantastic.
Do you have any favorites that you or your kids love? Any spooky stories that stand-out from childhood?
Happy reading and have a spooky Halloween!