It’s October, which means you’re already almost too late to try to grab Halloween books from your local library! Fortunately for you, I’ve got you covered with all sorts of Halloween reading. Below, you’ll find lists of our favorite Halloween-y (but not Halloween-specific) books, Halloween picture books, Halloween books for the youngest readers, and even Halloween chapter books for your older audiences. So take a look below, put some (or all…) of these titles on hold from your local library, and have a great time getting into the spirit of Halloween this month!
***All links provided below are Amazon Affiliate links, which means that if you choose to purchase through these links, your purchase price stays the same, but I get a tiny commission. All ages given are publishers’ recommended age ranges, though I’ve noted if I believe you could read a book older or younger than the given range. As always, you know your kiddos best!
Our Favorite Halloween-y (but NOT Halloween) Books
*** These are the books to buy for the Halloween season, if you’re in the market to buy some! Though some of these are more often read during October (such as The Widow’s Broom and Room on the Broom, they’re not about the Halloween holiday speficially, so they’re perfect for reading year-round as well as leading up to Halloween! ***
Leonardo, the Terrible Monster written and illustrated by Mo Willems — Oh Leonardo, you are a favorite monster in our house (and we have some well-loved monster books!). Leonardo is a monstyer who is terrible… Terrible, that is, at scaring people. But when he tries to scare the most scaredy-cat kid in the world, Leonardo changes his outlook on what it means to be a monster. Ages 3-6, but can definitely be enjoyed older (especially if you get into good dramatic character when reading it!).
Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara — Rather than be scared of the ghosts in her house, our clever protagonist knows just what to do with them! She catches them, washes them, dries them, and repurposes them. Your young readers won’t be scared at all by these ghosts! Ages 3-6.
Gustavo, the Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago — What do you do when you’re a ghost, so you’re already pretty transparent and hard to see, but you’re also incredibly shy? How do you get noticed and make friends? This is Gustavo’s great dilemma, because what he wants most in the world is to be friends with the other monsters in town. This one also ties in a tiny bit of the Day of the Dead celebrations. Be sure to check out the surprise under the dust cover, and spend time with the endpages, too, as both add delightful details to the story! Ages 3-7.
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler — From the duo behind The Gruffalo comes this witchy, Halloween-y classic. It’s written in near-perfect rhythm and rhyme and will definitely cause laughter, so it’s a perfect read-aloud for the month of October! Ages 3-7, but could go younger or slightly older too.
The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone, illustrated by Michael Smollin — Adults may have special places in their hearts for Little Golden Books, and this Little Golden Book won’t disappoint! Throughout the book, Grover interacts with his readers, trying to discourage them from continuing in the book, as he knows there’s a monster waiting at the end… But he’s in for a surprise when he realizes just who the monster is! Ages 3-7, but great for younger too.
There’s a Monster in Your Book by Tom Fletcher, illustrated by Greg Abbott — Interactive books are almost always HUGE hits with children, and this is no exception. The reader has to carefully follow the author’s directions in order to get the scary (not really, he’s actually pretty cute!) monster out of the book… Until things go wrong and you really want him back! Ages 3-7.
I Want to Be in a Scary Story by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Jean Jullien — Another book where the monster interacts with the author and audience, I Want to Be in a Scary Story features Monster, who wants to be in a scary story (you didn’t see that one coming, did you?), but his author wants to write a funny story instead. Will Monster change his mind when he realizes how scary a scary story can be? Ages 2-5, but I’d skew older here, going 3-7.
Bonaparte Falls Apart by Margery Cuyler, illustrated by Will Terry — A story of friendship and teamwork found in unusual places, you could start reading this one before school starts and continue reading it all the way till Halloween, if you want! Bonaparte is literally falling apart, and his friends Franky Stein, Blacky Widow, and Mummicula rally around him to pull him together and boost his confidence before he starts school. Ages 3-7.
Sir Simon: Super Scarer by Cale Atkinson — Sir Simon is a super scarer, incredibly devoted to his job and all the to-dos that it entails. When he finally gets placed at his first house, he’s thrilled to see that the new inhabitant is a cookie-baking grandma (which should give him plenty of time for his leisure activities, like learning French and cross-stitching…). But then he realizes that grandma has moved in not by herself, but with her grandson! And not just any grandson, a grandson who believes in ghosts AND isn’t afraid of them. What will Simon do? How will he get his chores done and still accomplish all that he wants to personally? Ages 4-8.
Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Scott Magoon — I’m not sure how I had never read this book before 2019 (it was published in 2010), but it’s a delight! Bernadette is a monster, but not your typical monster, and as such, she struggles to fit in at Monster Academy. In the end, she learns how to make friends AND be herself. Ages 4-8.
I Am a Witch’s Cat by Harriet Muncaster — You might think, based on the cover, that this is a book about a child dressing up to go trick-or-treating, but it’s not! This one is likely to make adults giggle as much as children (the main character, who could be a boy or a girl, believes the mom to be magic because “she keeps lots of strange potion bottles in the bathroom that I am NOT allowed to touch.”). Stick with it for the twist at the end! Ages 4-8.
Día de los Muertos by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, illustrated by Carles Ballesteros — Brightly colored and delightfully rhyming, your youngeset kids will ask for this one over and over again, whether you celebrate Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) or not. Always on the lookout for high-interest books about other cultures, we’ve loved using this to learn a little more about the celebrations and traditions around Día de los Muertos. Skills, skeletons, and ghosts aside, this celebration takes place annually between October 31 and November 2, so October is a perfect time of year to learn more about it! Ages 4-8.
She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein by Lynn Fulton, illustrated by Felicita Sala — I am absolutely thrilled to add this to my Halloween-y list in 2020, as what better time of year to hear about the origins of Frankenstein? And in biography form? And about a woman? Yes, please! I learned so much in this book, such as the fact that Mary Shelley had been challenged by Lord Byron to write a scary story, which led to Frankenstein. And she struggled in the challenge, waiting until the very last minute to get anything written. But then, she had a dream, a dream in which a scientist used electricity to bring life to the lifeless. And thus, Frankenstein was born! Ages 4-8, but could be too much for sensitive kids. I’d skew to the old end of that range and older.
The Widow’s Broom written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg — I just adore Chris Van Allsburg and his amazing twists of fate (not to mention his illustrations!). When a witch falls off of her broom in Minna Shaw’s yard, Minna makes good use of the witch’s magical broom… You can read my mini Instagram review here. Ages 4-8, though I think this would be wonderful throughout elementary school and may be a bit much for some sensitive preschoolers/kindergarteners.
I Need my Monster (and rest of this series) by Amanda Noll, illustrated by Howard McWilliam — A favorite babysitter gave us this book a few years ago, and we have LOVED it ever since. Be sure to spend some time with the endpapers, which might inspire some Halloween art and drawing projects designing not-so-scary monsters! You can read my full review here. Ages 5-8, but both of my girls have LOVED this since they were 1.5 and 3.5!
Our Favorite Halloween Picture Books
Monster Needs a Costume by Paul Czajak, illustrated by Wendy Grieb — This one had us laughing hard during many parts of the story! It’s not easy to help your monster friend decide what costume to wear for Halloween. My girls loved the illustrations of Monster imagining himself in each costume, as well as the final solution. This is a perfectly funny and not-at-all-scary Halloween story! Ages 3-6.
Not Very Scary by Carol Brendler, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli — Another Halloween counting book, where a scary journey leads to a happy party. We follow Melly, a brace little monster, on her journey to a Halloween party, meeting all sorts of Halloween characters (including ghosts, bats, mummies, and skeletons) along the way. Ages 3-6.
Pick a Pumpkin by Particia Toht, illustrated by Jarvis — The creators of Pick a Pine Tree are back, and I actually think this one is even more delightful! The rhythm and rhyme work exceptionally well this time, and children will love to see their Halloween rituals reflected on the pages of this book. Ages 3-7.
Ten Orange Pumpkins: A Counting Book by Stephen Savage— Savage gives us a fun counting story from 10 to 1, written in rolling rhyme. We start with 10 pumpkins and then meet Halloween characters (like a mummy, a black cat, and skeletons) who come to take a pumpkin for their own Halloween decor. Savage also has an abridged board book version of this story called Seven Orange Pumpkins. Ages 3-7.
Boo! Haiku by Deanna Caswell, illustrated by Bob Shea — Caswell’s story is told through haiku riddles, making it one of the more unique Halloween books out there. This would be a great exposure to this form of poetry or a wonderful mentor text for some Halloween haiku. Ages 3-7 (or read with older children as a mentor text).
Stumpkin by Lucy Ruth Cummins — New in 2018, and definitely at the top of my all-time Halloween favorites! Stumpkin is a stunningly illustrated and tenderly written story of fitting in, feeling different, and accepting diversity of otheres. The last part of the book is a must-look, starting with the double spread of solid black that leads to an eye-opening new perspective (you’ll understand when you read it for yourself!). Ages 4-8.
Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White, illustrated by Megan Lloyd — Published in 1996, this is another Halloween gem that I somehow missed until this year! Growing up eating just about only pumpkins left Rebecca Estelle with a bad taste in her mouth for the seasonal fruit, so she wants nothing to do with Halloween as an adult… Until she finds herself with too many pumpkins and doesn’t know what to do! Ages 4-8.
Boo Who? and Other Wicked Halloween Knock-Knock Jokes by Haty Hall and Lisa Eisenberg, illustrated by Stephen Carpenter — My girls are absolutely obsessed with telling knock-knock jokes these days, but they often try to make them up themselves… And given that they don’t totally understand the abstract humor that makes them funny, their original jokes usually fall flat. So, I figured this would be the perfect addition to our Halloween bookshelf and maybe raise the bar for jokes in our house! Ages 4-8.
A Tiger Called Tomás by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns — First written in 1963 and reissued in 2018, this is the story of Tomás, who just moved to a new neighborhood and is convinced “the new people might not like him.” He finally finds courage to venture past his front stoop when he dons his Halloween costume, when he’s met with an incredibly friendly surprise up and down his street. Ages 4-8.
Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell — A more serious Halloween book than most on this list, Pumpkin Jack is a wonderful introduction to seasons and life cycles. When Tim’s first jack-‘o’-lantern starts to rot, he tosses it in the yard… Only to be surprised by what he starts to notice as the weather warms again! Ages 4-8.
The Pomegranate Witch by Denise Doyen, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler — I have to admit that I almost left this one off of my list when I previewed it on my own. In my head, it was hard to read and follow… But then I took a chance and read it out loud to my girls, and it works so much better out loud than in my head — and they LOVED it! We had a long debate after about whether the story is about one “witch” playing trick on the kids, or indeed about 2 sister witches… Have you read this one? What is your thought? Ages 5-8.
Bone Dog by Eric Rohmann — Rohmann combines a story of friendship and loss with adventures of trick-or-treating, and somehow it works. Trigger warning – the dog in this book dies. Rohmann (you may recognize his style from My Friend Rabbit) tells much of this story through facial expressions and backgrounds, so take your time with the illustrations. Ages 4 and up, but I think it may be scary for children under 6 or so.
Our Favorite Halloween Books for the Youngest Readers
Little Blue Truck’s Halloween by Alice Schertle — All children seem to love Little Blue Truck, and this one has flaps to lift so the reader can “see” under the friends’ Halloween masks as Little Blue picks up the animals to go to a Halloween party. Ages 0-3.
Where Is Baby’s Pumpkin? by Karen Katz — My girls LOVED all of her seasonal books as babies and toddlers… I’m a little sad that we have passed the season when Katz’s seasonal books are the most popular holiday books in our house! Ages 1-4.
The Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin by Sonali Fry, illustrated by Sanja Rescek — Super fun because you sing the story to the tune of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” while trying to help the roll-away pumpkin find his way home. What small child won’t enjoy that? Ages 2-4, but perfect for babies, too!
Herbert’s First Halloween by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Steven Henry — This one admittedly doesn’t seem to come in board book format, but I love how this story depicts fears and worries kids can experience when they’re new to Halloween. We rereading it a lot last year, when my 3-year-old declared she’s not so sure about Halloween and wouldn’t go trick-or-treating. Spoiler alert– she loved Halloween and did indeed don her “firefighter puppy” costume and trick-or-treat with the best of them! Ages 2-4, but appropriate for even younger listeners too!
Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley — Ok, this isn’t officially a Halloween book, but it IS about a monster! Emberley cleverly uses cut-outs and changing background colors to both build and take apart a monster, as well as change the tone from worried/scared to confident. Ages 2-6.
Pumpkin Trouble by Jan Thomas — This is another one that doesn’t come as a board book, but it’s an adorable story of a duck trying to carve a jack-o-lantern, sure to be a hit with toddlers. Ages 4-8, though I’d stick with the younger end of that range and then go younger!
Our Favorite Halloween and Halloween-y Chapter Books
BOO, Katie Woo! by Fran Manushkin, illustrated by Tammie Lyon — New to this list in 2020, I figured it would be nice for those emerging readers to have their own “chapter” book to read for Halloween! Sweet, simple, and not at all scary, this is a perfect book for those children who want to master the task of reading a Halloween book on their own. And, as always, we love Katie Woo and the friendships she has that shine through all of her books! Ages 5-8.
Mercy Watson: Princess in Disguise by Kate DiCamillo (illustrated by one of my favorites, Chris Van Dusen) — our girls LOVE Mercy Watson! Van Dusen’s illustrations are wonderful additions to the story, but the audiobooks narrated by Ron McLarty are stellar too. When Mr. and Mrs. Watson decide that their porcine wonder must be a princess for Halloween, of course hilarity is going to ensue! This is the 4th in the Mercy Watson series, but they don’t need to be read in order. Ages 6-9, but definitely appropriate for younger readers, too.
Lola Levine and the Halloween Scream by Monica Brown — This is book #6 in the Lola Levine series, but these also don’t need to be read in order. This one’s also a great Halloween friendship story, as Lola has to learn to listen to her friends, respect their wishes, and amend mistakes with the realization that she’s not perfect. Bonus points for diversity, as Lola is half-Peruvian and half-Jewish and uses words such as “shalom,” “bubbe,” and “diario”! Ages 6-10.
Ghoulia: Making New Friends Can Be Scary by Barbara Cantini — Ghoulia, published this year, was translated from an Italian original (Mortina, pub. 2017). It’s not broken into chapters, but at 64 pages it’s definitely not a picture book! This is a charming story of making friends and being oneself. A second Ghoulia book (Ghoulia and the Mysterious Visitor) was released in 2019, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. Ages 6 and up.
The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy — Part of a larger series, The Worst Witch is a really fun middle-grade story about a witch who is just starting school at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches… But she just can’t seem to get the hang of it. From wearing her hat backwards to breaking her broomstick, it just doesn’t seem like Mildred is going to make it. You’ll have to read to see what happens! Ages 8-12.
And, of course, October is the perfect time to read Harry Potter with your children! Emphasis on *with* in that sentence… I’m probably going to need a whole post on Harry Potter, but in my opinion, children are ready for the first one around first grade (or six years old). I’d then recommend holding off on the rest of the series and reading one a year until they’re 10 or 12 and can handle both the vocabulary and the content independently (Common Sense Media tends to agree with me). The Harry Potter books start to get darker around #3, and #4 is definitely intense and dark. We love this illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone! Ages 9-12, though written on approximately a 5th-6th grade reading level.
What are your favorite books to read with your children to help the whole family get in the Halloween spirit?