Halloween Books For Kids

Halloween books for kids fly off the library shelves once the candy hits the stores so make a list and grab your book bag after you read through this post. Books about holidays can be used to get kids excited , ease anxiety or my favorite read after the celebrations as a tool to talk about your family’s own holiday experience.

Dem Bones by Bob Barner is sort of two books in one. The superficial layer uses the words of the ever popular old time spiritual with fun Halloween inspired skeleton illustrations. There is also a second layer that has longer text for older children that goes into the anatomy of the bones the song sings about. Great way to keep a Halloween theme strong while teaching about the human body!

In the Haunted House by Eve Bunting is the type of story that you aren’t sure if you should or shouldn’t read to your 3 year old. Well maybe it’s just me. I am easily frightened, I can’t even watch commercials for scary movies , so I was leery about reading this book to my son. He opened it and scanned it himself and then brought it over to me so I gave it a try. He loved it. The book takes the reader through a haunted house, and each scary thing it houses. While reading it my son would stop look at me and ask ” Is that just pretend?” ” Is that just a costume?” which made me feel better about reading it since he will see some scary costumes and if the idea that they aren’t real is concrete in his mind hopefully come Halloween his resilience will be a little stronger. At the end of the book you see the little girl and her dad coming out of the haunted house, she is exhilarated, but he looks terrified! My son loved that detail, great message about it being ok to be scared!

Wobble, the witch cat by Mary Calhoun is a vintage story that is charming and much loved by my son. Wobble is a cat who belongs to Maggie a kind old witch , but Wobble hates riding on Maggie’s slippery broom. The other cats tease him and with Halloween coming up he decides to get rid of Maggie’s broom. When Maggie can’t find her magic broom, all she finds is a vacuum cleaner, but will it fly?  My son loves vacuum cleaners and thought it was hilarious that a witch would try to fly on one. I liked the  idea that witches sweep the sky so that the children can be safe under the stars on Halloween night.

Inside a House That Is Haunted by Alyssa Satin Capucilli was the hands down favorite Halloween book for my 3 year old class in 2005. I must have read this 200 times and even after Christmas had come and gone it was still requested all the time. The story is a rebus read along, so it is repetitive and it builds upon itself. This is great for children who are eager to “read along” before they are able to read words. The repetitiveness allows them to anticipate what is next and feel included. Very cute even after reading it hundreds of times.

Peek-a-Boooo! by Marie Torres Cimarusti is a perfect toddler Halloween book. The premise is simple, each page has a well known Halloween character including a witch, skeleton, Frankenstein all hiding behind their hands playing peek-a-boo with the readers. The characters hands are flaps and when you lift them they reveal the character’s face – which is always sweet and happy , never scary.  At the end of the book there are more flaps to lift to reveal trick or treaters and the same Halloween characters hiding in their haunted house. My son loves this book too and  I think it’s a great completely gentle way to read about Halloween with toddlers

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat! by Lucille Colandro was a huge hit! It’s a reworking of the classic song ” There was an old lady who swallowed a fly” only this one swallows a whole bunch of Halloween creatures, like a goblin, ghost and of course a bat.  She continues to swallow bigger and bigger things much to my son’s amazement! He was giggling through the whole book and the end when the old lay belches he laughed hysterically. It was predictable but I have to admit was a really fun , silly read.

Maisy’s Halloween by Lucy Cousins is a cute board book for toddlers that follows Maisy’s search for the right Halloween costume. There is something about this little mouse that children just love. My daughter will reach for a Maisy book over just about any other if given a choice. The story is also a cute introduction about the fun we have dressing up for Halloween.

Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler is a silly book about a skeleton who can not get rid of the hiccups. He tries all the old tricks , which probably won’t be old to your kids… I spent a lot of time explaining them to my son while we read . The story is simple and parents will find it predictable but kids find it silly and fun, and that is what matters.

Pumpkin Eye by Denise Fleming is a wonderful Halloween book for kids who are old enough to feel like Halloween is a spooky night, but still too young for anything graphically frightening.  The text is short but rhymes beautifully and grabs your child’s attention almost as effectively as the illustrations do. The story is all about Halloween night and the sights and sounds on one street as the night goes on. Both my kids have been grabbing for this book off our shelf when I ask which book they want to read . If it can be a favorite for an almost 5 year old boy and a 15 month old girl I say it will probably be a hit at your house too.

Where Is Baby’s Pumpkin?by Karen Katz. Is a Halloween favorite at our house and has been for years. I don’t think the book has ever been really put away since buying it when my son was a toddler. Karen Katz’s lift the flap books are more than just cute , the flaps and different textures keep little hands busy and little bodies calm enough to sit for the whole book.

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara is on my must buy list! A little girl moves into house and soon finds out it is haunted. Luckily she is a witch and knows just what to do. The ghosts in the story seem mischievous but never scary and even when she washes them in the washing machine, they are still smiling! My son loved this book, the text was the perfect length for a 3 year old, short but still descriptive.  I loved the simple  black and orange colors and had to look at the copyright twice because I was certain this was written sometime in the 30s, nope 2008. The simplicity of the book and colors is balanced so well with the little details like the litt;e girl’s constant companion , a white cat that puts on a black costume when the little witch pops on her hat. This detail had my son in stitches, “Cats don’t wear clothes , silly cat!” .  Absolutely a perfect Halloween book for children not yet ready to be scared for fun!

AlphaOops: H Is for Halloweenby Althea Kontis is a really sophisticated alphabet book that works well for a wide range of kids. A toddler will enjoy the bright illustrations by Bob Kolar and older children will be able to follow along with the silly storyline about the letters putting on a Halloween show. What I adore about this book is that the letters are completely out of order and some of the things they represent are far from ordinary.  Instead of werewolf the author used the word lycanthrope which I had never heard and my son loved learning something at the same time as I did.  The few trickier words were great for my son who often guesses words even though he can sound them out. It forced him to work harder . As soon as we were done reading  it together he asked to read it again. Super awesome alphabet book for Halloween !

The Costume Copycat by Maryann MacDonald is more about sibling rivalry than Halloween but brilliant none the less.  There are two sisters and each Halloween something happens to thrust the older sister into the spotlight leaving her little sister in her shadow feeling jealous and frustrated. Never is the older sister boastful or mean , it’s mostly just luck, or rather the younger sister’s bad luck that keeps her from shining. It’s hard to be the little sister ( trust me) especially when your older sibling is good at everything, and this book manages to get to the root of that emotion.  When the younger sister finally does feel like the spotlight is on her she remembers how she felt and shares her bounty with her sister.  Sweet book.

Mouse’s Halloween Party by Jeanne Modesitt is a really sweet book, and I am glad I grabbed it at the library yesterday. Mouse is planning a big Halloween party but when he gets to his friend Pig’s house his plans go awry. This is a great book for kids like my son who get very very upset when something unexpected happens. We spent a long time talking about every stage of this story and felt great when it was done. I may have to buy this book, or at least renew it a few times! The text isn’t short but the story is interesting enough to keep your child interested. I love the discussion that this book prompted and would encourage anyone to read this book!

The Perfectly Horrible Halloween by Nancy Poydar is a book I think most adults can relate to and kids should read and learn from. In the book a little boy is excited about the costume contest in class, he is sure he will win, but there is one problem, he forgot his costume on the bus! I like how resourceful he is making a new costume with what he has and how the author realistically captures both the excitement  of the day and horror when he realizes he forgot the costume on the bus. I know I forgot my bag, my lunch and a laundry list of other things on the bus when I was a kid and this book launched my son and I into a talk about loosing things and coping. Another good book from an author I have recently discovered and am greatly enjoying.

Halloween Day by Anne Rockwell is another winner . I love this author because kids love her books, and the ones that she has collaborated with her daughter on are probably my favorites. Her daughter Lizzy is the illustrator and she won my son over with her cool pictures of costumes and Halloween decor , especially the little boy in the firefighter costume. The story is about a classroom celebrating Halloween but what I love is that it shows why each child chose to dress up in their individual costumes.  Huge hit at our house, perfect for the 2-5 crowd and not scary at all!

Moonlight: The Halloween Cat by Cynthia Rylant is a relaxing book about a little black cat named Moonlight and her Halloween night. I love the illustrations and how they seem to glow! Every page offers a new perspective and even though the story is set on a spooky night there is nothing to be afraid of.  The text itself is simple, calming  and there are only a couple of lines on each page, making it the perfect length for a bedtime story. Even if you aren’t a cat person, you will like this book.

10 Trick-or-Treaters by Janet Schulman is one of my favorite Halloween books and both my children love it. We read it leading up to and well after Halloween last year. The premise is simple, a group of trick or treaters are pegged off one by one as they are scared by some Halloween creature.  Readers count down from 10 – 0 and  enjoy the bright detailed illustrations as they do. I particularly like the cute costumes and the final page which has another countdown with candy – always fun to count candy right?

Vunce Upon a Time by J. Otto Siebold and Siobhan Vivian is a cute story about a vegetarian vampire who has a weakness for candy. After he runs out of candy he decides to try trick or treating, although he is apprehensive because he’s afraid of humans. My son loved the story, laughing at the vampire being afraid of humans, throwing a tantrum when his parents said he couldn’t go trick or treating and wanting to dress up as  a clove of garlic .  He ends up going ( with parental blessing) and ends up getting so much more than candy.

Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman is a staple in most preschool classrooms. It’s a cute story about a witch who is desperate for pumpkin pie but her giant pumpkin is too big for her to pick up! Luckily she enlists the help of a ghost, vampire, mummy and bat and with a little teamwork they save the night! The rhyming text is almost like a song and kids love it! It’s possibly my son’s favorite Halloween book and I love that it’s the smallest creature who uses it’s brain not brawn to solve the problem.

Mouse’s First Halloween by Lauren Thompson is a sweet and really well done book. The story follows a little mouse who is easily afraid of the many things on Halloween night , but one by one discovers that things like falling leaves, jack-o-lanterns and trick or treaters aren’t so scary after all. I love the repetition in this book and the illustrations by Bucket Erdogan epitomize the fall spookiness that Halloween nights are filled with. Thumbs up from my son and I .

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda D. Williams is actually about a little old lady who is a little afraid of a few things but stays strong and doesn’t let her fear stop her. On a walk through the woods back to her cottage the little old lady is confronted with one odd thing after another that might spook some people but she just pushes ahead and makes it home safe or does she? What I love about this book is the repetition of the text and how easily it can be turned into a action book. It is a very fun book to read aloud to a group.

Beneath the Ghost Moon by Jane Yolen is a story of standing up for yourself and triumphing over bullies. The mice at the farm as all excited about Ghost Moon and are busy preparing their costumes for their celebration. One night after they go to bed a group of creepy crawlies ( lizard like creatures) wreck all that the mice have prepared. Many of the mice want to run away and hide but their leader convinces them to fight back and not to leave their home in fear. I love the message this book send especially the one about forgiveness when one of the crawlies asks for forgiveness and to be allowed to stay on the farm with the mice.

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Halloween Word Search

word games for new readers

I can’t take full credit for this activity idea . Word searches in bottles of rice, popcorn kernels etc.. have been around for as long as I have been teaching and probably much much longer. I was reminded of the simple genius of these last night when searching Pinterest for sight word ideas for a reader who was looking for more activities for her son.  I pinned this activity onto my early literacy pinterest board but felt like I needed to make my own version using Halloween words.  Here is what we did.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some filler ( we used our Halloween Sensory tub filler ) like black beans , orange lentils and creepy toys!  You will also need some stiff paper ( we used paint chips but card stock will work too), a clip board, markers and a permanent marker. You will also need a large plastic jar, water bottles work too but you may want to take the larger spooky toys out of the mix.
  2. Write out the words your child is searching for I had my son help me think of Halloween words.
  3. Write them on the paint chips or card stock. I wrote some words out multiple times and some like Boo! only once. Just to make it successful but challenging.
  4. Cut and pop them in the jar with the filler.
  5. Search !
  6. Cross the words out when you find them.
  7. We challenged each other to find words. I like this game because it gets kids reading, searching and can be adapted to any level. For younger kids use plain letters, older ones cut the letters of the words out and have them search and spell!

My Favorite Halloween Book For Little Ones

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara is on my must buy list! A little girl moves into house and soon finds out it is haunted. Luckily she is a witch and knows just what to do. The ghosts in the story seem mischievous but never scary and even when she washes them in the washing machine, they are still smiling! My son loved this book, the text was the perfect length for a 3 year old, short but still descriptive.  I loved the simple  black and orange colors and had to look at the copyright twice because I was certain this was written sometime in the 30s, nope 2008. The simplicity of the book and colors is balanced so well with the little details like the litt;e girl’s constant companion , a white cat that puts on a black costume when the little witch pops on her hat. This detail had my son in stitches, “Cats don’t wear clothes , silly cat!” .  Absolutely a perfect Halloween book for children not yet ready to be scared for fun!

Toddler Friendly Pumpkin Glittering

Craving a pumpkin with a toddler is not my idea of fun , especially without another adult handy for supervising the littles when you are doing the actual carving. I will leave the slimy insides ( that make my son gag – also not fun) and sharp knives for the weekend when my husband is handy, but that doesn’t mean we can’t decorate a pumpkin! I was just going to do this with my daughter who is 16 months old but my son came running to the playroom asking to join in. They had a great time and my foyer is all blinged out for halloween now!

  1. Gather your materials. You will want a drop cloth for this, white glue, glitter, paint brushes, a plate and a small stool, box or something else you don’t mind getting glitter on to hold the pumpkin at your toddler’s level so they can stand and move around as they create.
  2. Pour the glue onto a plate.
  3. Paint on the glue.
  4. “Wait for me I want to do it too Mom!” <— music to my ears!
  5. Shake the glitter on.
  6. Change glitter colors and keep shaking.
  7. Let dry overnight, gently shake any loose glitter off.
  8. Display!

Halloween Math – Count and Fill Frankenstein

My husband loves math the way that I love art . When he talks about numbers his voices changes just a little bit the same way mine does when I start telling someone about the first time I saw a favorite painting in person. Well my son seems to be gearing more towards that side of things so I have been trying to come up with math activities that fit themes , have an art element if he wants to help me make them and most importantly are fun.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a paper towel roll or two, some green painters tape , a black markers( one permenant and a regular washable one), drinking straws, stationary labels and scissors.
  2. Start by cutting your paper towel rolls into smaller tubes.
  3. Next color the top of the roll black.  Just use a regular old marker.
  4. Next wrap green painters tape around the bottom of the rolls. Add faces with permenant marker, regular marker will smudge.
  5. Now cut the drinking straws into smaller pieces. Make sure they are long enough to be seen and grabbed above the rolls.
  6. Write numbers on the stationary labels. Make sure you write some numbers that are “easy” and many that are a challenge for them too. The balance of challenge and success builds their self confidence.
  7. Place the Frankensteins on the table with the labels infront. This do not stick to my table but I don’t want to be responsible for wrecking yours, so if you are worried pop down a placemat before the labels. If it’s too late try goo-gone that stuff is a preschool teacher’s secret weapon.
  8. Give your child the straws and let them count and fill! My son loved that he was putting brains into Frankenstein… nice eh?
  9. It was during this lesson that I introduced my son to double checking his work. Here he is counting a 2nd time.
  10. Peel the stickers off and put new ones on. Count and re-fill .

Halloween Counting Book

10 Trick-or-Treaters by Janet Schulman is one of my favorite Halloween books and both my children love it. We’ve been reading it daily for a few weeks. The premise is simple, a group of trick or treaters are pegged off one by one as they are scared by some Halloween creature.  Readers count down from 10 – 0 and  enjoy the bright detailed illustrations as they do. I particularly like the cute costumes and the final page which has another countdown with candy – always fun to count candy right?

Halloween Sensory Tub For Multiple Ages

I noticed on Pinterest a comment on a pin of my Sensory Tub from Halloween 2010. The commentor noted that I use the same container ( usually yes) and just store the contents in ziplocks ( yes again I have close to 20 bags).  That comment sparked this post. My son had been asking for a Halloween sensory tub since we bought the bouncy ball eyeballs a few weeks ago. My goal was  to make one that both he and his baby sister ( 15 months) could use. This is what we did.

  1. Gather your materials. I grabbed my Halloween Sensory Tub contents from 2009 and 2010 – which included black beans, white beans, orange lentils for the fill. Then sticky skelletons, plastic spiders and other bugs, bouncy ball eyeballs , a few pumpkin containers , a scoop and some tongs.  Do not feel like you need to have all of this! My main goal is to show that you can mix two old ones to make a new one.  
  2. For the toddler version I started by putting in the dried beans and lentils. Then chose only the large plastic bugs and pumpkin containers.
  3. You may notice she is on a small rug. If you are doing this on the floor a carpeted floor works the best, the beans don’t skatter as far.
  4. Encourage them to keep the beans in , but please don’t scold. If spilling makes you angry just skip this activity all together. Gently show toddlers how to keep it in but until children have lots of experience with sensory tubs use only positive guidance. Anger will confuse them and halt any play and learning that was happening.
  5. Feel free to have them put beans back in though !
  6. Into the pumpkin!
  7. Now for older kids add the as my son calls it ” good stuff!” We did this when my daughter was daddy so it wouldn’t be unfair for her to see her brother playing but be told she can’t.
  8. I challenged him to pick up the balls with the tongs – it was tricky!
  9. He decided to pick out all the skelletons.
  10. Then he decided to create a skelleton world on the playroom floor, and the eye balls were bombs? Something like that. He asked if he could play it for his quiet time. Ummm yeah! I love how fun mama directed activities almost always lead to something for him to explore and lead himself. 

When I stored this sensory tub I used 2 ziplocks, and picked out all the big kids stuff into one, the toddler safe in the other and store them next to eachother for fast fun for either kid.

** Please remember that it’s your job to know what is safe for your child and what your child is ready for . All activities require adult supervision. **