I love Halloween and not just because I also love candy; I love it because there are so many super fun Halloween books for preschool out there. In the last many years my students and kids have both read Halloween books all year long. They attach to a book in late September, and I end up leaving it out because it is so frequently requested. Holiday themed books are great for getting amped up for the holiday, but if your students or child loves the book, there is zero reason to put it away. So here are 45 of my favorite Halloween books for preschool to pop on your shelf and maybe leave them out all year too!
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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!
Clifford’s First Halloween (Clifford the Small Red Puppy) by Norman Birdwell is a Halloween book that my son adored it as a toddler; there were many days when I read it multiple times. The story is about the big red dog’s very first Halloween as a puppy. Clifford and Emily Elizabeth find costumes, they trick or treat and try candy apples too. I think what my son related to was that like little Clifford, he was often too little for things, made messes all the time, and has bigger people step in and fix everything for him. This book doesn’t jump at me as a must read, but I can’t ignore how much my son loved this book, so I have included it in the list.
Spooky Pookie by Sandra Boynton is an adorable rhyming book all about a little pig trying to find just the right costume for Halloween. The images are fun and simple, and there is nothing spooky about this book, despite its title. A great little read for toddlers.
Shy Mama’s Halloween by Anne Broules is a great book for Halloween, but its lesson is a universal one. The story is about a newly arrived immigrant family who is unfamiliar with Halloween, while the children embrace the holiday the mother is slower to warm up and is a little apprehensive about the ghosts and goblins. When her husband is no longer able to take their children trick or treating the mama braves this new experience and takes them despite her fear of the holiday and her trouble adjusting to her new home.
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 three 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 at age three. 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? When we read this, my son was 3 and loved 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 can 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.
Monster Mess! by Margery Cuyler is a silly rhyming book about a monster who isn’t interested in scaring you, but rather cleaning up your messes. Readers follow along as the monster creeps through the house finding messes and tidying up. I loved it when the monster stepped on blocks, what parent reading this with their kids hasn’t stepped on toys like Lego and screamed in pain?! I know I do, a lot so that part resonated with me. The illustrations by S.D. Schindler are done at funky angles and perspectives and adds a lot to the text. It’s not scary at all and a great monster choice for more fearful kids.
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.
Room On The Broom by Julia Donaldson is a classic and I have never included it in a book list before because I felt EVERYONE knew this book, but I have suggested it recently to a few younger teachers who weren’t familiar with it, so I had to add it. This witch and her cat are so far from spooky that this is a great Halloween book for young kids who are easily scared and the message is one about friendship and making room for everyone.
Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley. Through the use of die-cut pages, a scary monster is created page by page. But once the monster is complete the reader tells it “You don’t scare me! So go away” Now each page removes a piece of the scary monster until the end “and don’t come back.” As the child creates and then destroys the monster in the book, page by page, they see that the monster isn’t as scary as they thought. This great interactive approach gives children control of the monster and hopefully helps them to understand and control their own fears.
If You’re A Monster And You Know It by Rebecca and Ed Emberley is such a great monster book for families with kids of various ages. This book is a fun rearrangement of the classic children’s song “If You Are Happy And You Know It” with appropriately monsterish sounds and actions. The illustrations with are all cut paper collages steal the show, and you will find yourself reading/ singing along with the book only to go back for a second detailed look at each page. The monsters aren’t super scary, but they aren’t fluffy and cute which makes them a perfect match for kids that like monsters but aren’t up to really be scared.
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.
Monster Trouble by Lane Fredrickson is so much fun to read to children because the text’s rhythm and rhymes are expertly written. The story is adorable and empowering too. Winifred is not at all afraid of monsters but she is getting seriously sleep-deprived with all their nighttime visits. She devises a plan, and then another to get rid of these monsters, but it is an accidental kiss that finally gets them to go! Kids will love this funny book about a brave girl not afraid but totally fed up with monsters.
Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli by Barbara Jean Hicks is a really cute book about what monsters will and won’t eat. They will eat wheels and tractors; they will not eat broccoli. My son got into the repeating refrain ” Fum, foe, fie, fee, monsters don’t eat broccoli!” In the end, the monsters are really a set of siblings with all sorts of food on their plates including broccoli. It was a fun way of opening up a talk about what foods we like and why trying new things is a good thing. Halloween is filled with treats, and I’ll sneak veggies in wherever I can, including bedtime reading!
The Very Worst Monster by Pat Hutchins will give you and your child a good laugh. Hazel is a horrible monster, but all her family is so busy oohing and awing about how horrid her baby brother is no one notices her. This is a cute story about siblings, but these siblings are competing to be the very worst monster! My son thought the monster’s antics were hilarious, and I thought the sentiment about siblings was sweet. Cute book!
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 a 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 are balanced so well with the little details like the little 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 Halloween by 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. A super awesome alphabet book for Halloween!
The Runaway Pumpkin by Anne Margaret Lewis reminds me of The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown only it doesn’t creep me out. This little story is about an adventurous little pumpkin who imagines his Halloween adventures, and his mom plays along. There is no stalking vibe like I get from the Runaway Pumpkin. Also, every 2nd page is a full two-page illustration with no text. It’s a fun way to slow the book down and allow readers and listeners to ask questions and discuss as they read.
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.
The Scariest Monster in the Whole Wide World by Pamela Mayer should be required reading for every dance/cheer/hockey, mom or dad. This is a GREAT story about how sometimes parents don’t hear what kids want and just plow ahead with their own plans convinced that their kids are into it. This book is for every kid who got an elaborate birthday party when all they wanted was cake. A little girl wants to be a monster for Halloween, but her parents are a little obsessed with winning the costume contest and don’t hear her. Luckily Grandma saves the day, and I love that the little girl gets to express herself and not just what her parents wanted in the end!
The Monster Princess by D.J. McHale is a story about a monster Lala who so wished she could be a princess only to discover in the end that being herself is even better. As I was reading this book, I was really hoping that the three real princesses that befriend Lala would have more depth and not be the stereotypical mean girls that they are. Even after the mean princesses humiliate Lala, she does the right thing and saves them when they are in danger. This book had a very predictable feel to it, but I am 40 and have lived through mean girls on film many times and been on both sides of it in real life. To a young child, this story is fresh and filled with good messages about doing what is right even when we are angry and hurt, discovering that what we dream about being may not be all it’s cracked up to be as well as my favorite message that there are “All kinds of special.”
Some Monsters are Different by David Milgrim is such a sweet book about acceptance, and it is great for classrooms and families all year round. With silly drawings the idea that we all are a little different and some of us are really different is introduced. Inclusion being a positive thing and acceptance of ourselves are what readers are left with after reading this little gem.
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!
Ten Timid Ghosts by Jennifer O’Connell. This book has everything that kids connect with Halloween, from trick or treating to bats, a witch, a mummy, and ghosts. The book is super fun to read aloud because it’s a countdown starting with ten timid ghosts so you can feel extra happy that your little readers are getting some math reinforcement too. This is a great circle time read for classrooms!
Vampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace is a cute look at what would be a normal ballet class if you weren’t a vampire. This book isn’t just for Halloween, and my daughter loves this book. The way the vampire family cares for their little ballerina is a good lesson for kids about families that might be different from theirs and how maybe the differences aren’t such a big deal.
Boo! by Leslie Patricelli is a great Halloween book for 2-4-year-olds who have little to no memory of previous Halloweens. It covers carving pumpkins, finding costumes, and even how scary it can be at first to trick-or-treat. I especially adore the page with all different jack-o-lantern faces with different emotions and when the baby is trying on different costumes how they have all sorts of different costumes from princesses to cowboys, to ghosts. I appreciate this small nod to inclusiveness. I can’t wait to read this to my class in the coming weeks.
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 me into a talk about losing things and coping. Another good book from an author I have recently discovered and am greatly enjoying.
Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell is a great fall board book that isn’t just about Halloween. It starts with a family going to pick pumpkins and apples at a local farm and ends with trick or treating. I like how this book shows the process and progression that fall events take throughout the season. It’s a great circle time book for 2-3-year-olds.
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 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.
Frankie Stein Starts School by Lola M. Schaefer is a Halloween themed look at school and being different. Frankie Stein is the son of Frankenstein, and unlike all the other kids at his (night) school he isn’t scary at all. They tease him, and he stands up for himself, but then he just goes about trying to fit in by being just like the other kids and not like himself. I was hoping for a story where his differences were celebrated instead Frankie shows the other kids who are downright mean to him that he can earn their friendship by acting just like them which disappointed me. Cute concept but the story didn’t do much for me.
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 to 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.
Patty’s Pumpkin Patch by Teri Sloat is a great alphabet book and story in one. Readers follow a pumpkin patch from planting the seeds until after Halloween when they gather the seeds for the next planting. I really like how this book combines an alphabet book with both upper and lowercase letters corresponding to some animal or insect in the story. I also like the easy rhythm of the rhyming text and the engaging and detailed illustrations. All in all, I think this is a great fall book!
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.
We’re Going On A Ghost Hunt by Marcia Vaughn is a Halloween version of “Going On A Bear Hunt”. Two children go on a spooky ghost hunt through the swamp, past skeletons and bats, and of course a haunted house. After their harrowing journey, they turn around and retrace their steps, and it is revealed to readers that the journey was all imaginary and the children are in their backyard. This is a great book about Halloween and children with wonderful imaginations.
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 an 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 sends 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.
Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters by Jane Yolen is a sweet monster book with minimal text and very rich illustrations by Kelly Murphy. The story is really about the daily wind down and bedtime for two monsters. You and your child will absolutely relate to them on one page or another ( or all). These little monsters are just like our little monsters resisting bedtime, trying to avoid baths. Well, you know the daily struggle. My daughter was not into the book, but my son liked it even though I’d gear it towards the 2-4 crowd. We chose our favorite monsters on each page and found interesting details like the recipe for tentacle soup on the page where the mom is making dinner. Cute, your child will relate to it, and it’s not at all scary!