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Scary Stories for Kids at Halloween

Updated on November 12, 2015
A good setting for telling those Halloween stories. Kids will love it.
A good setting for telling those Halloween stories. Kids will love it. | Source

Kids! Gather Round for Scary Stories and Ghostly Halloween Tales

How do you choose the best Halloween Stories for Kids? It's great fun to gather around a candle or the fireside on Halloween and read ghostly stories to children, but it isn't easy to choose the best ones.

This is my own personal list of the best books for Halloween. They're stories that I've loved reading to my son; scary enough for Halloween, but not so scary that your child will be terrified. Some are just on the Halloween theme. I've included DVD's and CD's so that the kids can listen to the tales retold over and over again - long after you get fed up with them.

My Son and I Both Love These Scary Stories - Great Halloween tales for children

Just a couple of magical stories that my son and I loved
Just a couple of magical stories that my son and I loved | Source
Our Spooky Cat Saffron
Our Spooky Cat Saffron | Source

Children Love To Be Read To .....

.... and reading stories should be fun for you too!

I'm a great believer in reading aloud to kids to get them hooked on books, but I'm also a selfish Mum, I want to enjoy reading too!

Mutual enjoyment for you and your child, whatever age, is not so difficult to achieve. All you have to do is choose books that you like, but that are really going to engage the kids as well.

Reading has got to be good fun all round. Fortunately there are so many excellent children's books out there that you are spoilt for choice, and it's choosing the very best that's the problem - so here's a list of spooky stories that my son and I have BOTH enjoyed reading.

What Was I Scared Of? - By Dr Seuss

Dr Seuss was one of my childhood favourites and the quirky stories, distinctive illustrations, rhythmical rhymes and funny words make him a hit with the kids, and his poem about the ghostly pale green pants must count as one of the very best for Halloween. Scary enough to send a chill down the spine, but with a wonderfully P C ending. No child will have nightmares about this one.

What Was I Scared Of?: A Glow-in-the Dark Encounter (Classic Seuss)
What Was I Scared Of?: A Glow-in-the Dark Encounter (Classic Seuss)

What a fantastic idea! Ghostly, glow-in-the-dark ink! Perfect for reading by candlelight or under the bed clothes. This is a classic Dr. Seuss short story taken from The Sneetches and Other Stories. The hero here is terrified by a ghostly , empty pair of pants. See how Dr Seuss both delivers a first class, spine-tingly tale AND teaches children not be scared of the unkown.

 

In A Dark, Dark Room - By Alvin Schwartz

The Dark Dark Room is one of those traditional stories passed from child to child. You don't need to repeat it verbatum, just get the idea and improvise. A great one for travelling or walks.

In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories (I Can Read! Reading 2)
In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories (I Can Read! Reading 2)

Children learn and improve their mental capacity be memorising and repeating, and this book makes that such fun, for them and for you!

 

The Hairy Toe - By Daniel Postgate

An anonymous, traditional tale from America and another firm favourite! . My mother was a teacher and used to 'terrify' her class with this one. She also used to recite it to me and my brother and sister - we all just loved it.

The Hairy Toe is a bit scary and my son didn't like it when he was very small. Perhaps better to keep it for the over 5's. Lots of room for you to try out your reading skills and make them jump at the end. Wicked.

The Hairy Toe
The Hairy Toe

Like a Dark Dark room this is a great one for learning off by heart, but if you can't manage it, you can get the same effect without reciting it verbatim.

 

Where The Wild Things Are - By Maurice Sendak

A true classic. The fact that there is little text in this book should not lull you into thinking that it is short on content. Oh no. Beautifully written and illustrated, with a text that will delight adults and children. There is real poetry in here. This book is not very frightening at all, despite being about monsters. The wonderfully non-scary monsters, were modelled on Sendak's aunts and uncles who 'loved him so much they could eat him'?

Where the Wild Things Are has now been made into a film. I've found that the films and books support each other as my son is happy to flick from one to the other.

Where the Wild Things Are
Where the Wild Things Are

Mummy, Daddy, Aunty and Uncle monsters, and the biggest little monster - Max himself. Charming, erudite and unforgettable

 

This House is Haunted - By Joanne Rocklin

This book is designed to help your child to learn how to read. This is a collection of not-too-scary stories told by a ghost. Charmingly told and wonderfully illustrated by JoAnn Adinolfi.

Not a haunted house, or haunted wood but a haunted book. Which child could resist?

Boo! Made You Jump! (Charlie and Lola) - by Lauren Child

It's Halloween and Charlie is up to tricks making his little sister jump. Can Lola wreak revenge? She tries absolutely everything to scare Charlie, including dressing up like a creepy ghost, and telling a really scary story. Find out if Lola makes Charlie jump!

The Charlie and Lola stories are always winners for younger children. Delightful and not scary (hardly) at all.

A hot log stove for cold October nights
A hot log stove for cold October nights | Source

Some Authors Just Write the Best Books

Wonderful fireside stories for kids

I've included books by three of my all-time favourites, Lewis Carroll, Roald Dahl and Maurice Sendak.

Mommy?, by Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are is not well known but Sendak wrote quite a few good books that have been rather eclipsed by the popularity of Wild Things.

The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland, is a superb poem to read aloud. As a child I learnt Carroll's nonsense poem by heart and forty years later can still recite great chunks so it really must be good. Kids adore the made-up words and the Jabberwocky remains a great monster, but choose the copy with the original illustrations by Tenniell, for they too are classics.

My third fave is Roald Dahl, a great story teller (although one or two of his books I have hated!). This book of ghost stories is just the trick for Halloween and makes perfect reading around the stove on a winter's night.

Caroline Stutson and James Flora are new authors for me, and they are going to be the classics of the future.

My Son and I Both Loved The Witches by Roald Dahl - I can't believe that I nearly missed this one out!

This book is about a boy whose parents are killed in a car crash - yes, Roald Dahl can be a bit hard-hitting - and so he is cared for by his Scandinavian grandmother who turns out to be a bit of a witch-killer. If you need to know how to identify a witch, you'll need to read this book.

Suitable for children aged about 9 - 12 (and Mums and Dads of all ages).

The Witches
The Witches

When we first came to France we read this one together and listened to a CD reading. It was wonderful even though it was in French and I could only understand about a third of it! Since then we've read it in English and listened to it again and again. A great investment; funny, playful, alarming and not too scary.

 
Public domaine image: The Wizard Inn, Macclesfield Road, Alderley Edge.
Public domaine image: The Wizard Inn, Macclesfield Road, Alderley Edge. | Source

And for Older Children?

How about a bit of edgy magic and mystery from Alan Garner?

Recently I heard a play on the radio based in Alderley Edge in England that made references to a story by Alan Garner that I read when I was a child. Even the play made my spine tingle a little. And the book? The Weirdstone of Brisingamen: A Tale of Alderley First published in 1960 Garner's knowledge of folklore and the Alderley area imbibe this fantasy novel with a strain of realism that has made it a real cult classic.

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, is the story of two children, Susan and Colin, who are sent to rural England to stay with Bess Mossock, their mother's childhood nurse close to Alderley Edge. A slight air of menace becomes much more threatening as this magical story progresses.

The sequel to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen is The Moon of Gomrath.

Alan Garner has written several other books, many of which remain popular today.

Alan Garner, J K Rowling, L J Smith and Stephanie Meyere - Not all about Halloween by all spooky reads

But all magical and mystical! These are all great books for older children and will keep them busy for years! The box sets are just such great value and they are lovely to keep for life and even to pass on to the next generation. I gave my box set of the Narnia novels to my son who also loved them.

I recommend:

Special Edition Harry Potter Paperback Box Set

This will keep them reading for weeks if not years! What great value. I read a Harry Potter a year to my son until he became too old for bedtime stories. After that he had to read them himself.

The Twilight Saga White Collection

Vampires are so Halloween and they have certainly caught the imagination of the young.

Vampire Diaries Books 1 to 6 (4 Books) Collection Set Pack TV Tie Edition (The Awakening: AND The Struggle Bks. 1 & 2, The Fury: AND The Reunion v. 3 & 4, Shadow Souls Bk. 5, Nightfall Bk. 6, Vampire Diaries Collection)

I must say that I loved the television series of The Vampire Diaries but did find the books a bit beneath me - but only a bit. So while I wouldn't recommend them for adults, I think they're great for young teens.

Box Set : Elidor, the Owl Service, the Weirdstone of Brisingamen, the Moon of Gomrath
Box Set : Elidor, the Owl Service, the Weirdstone of Brisingamen, the Moon of Gomrath

Suitable for children aged 8 - 12 years, but I think older children and even adults can enjoy these books

 

Enjoy a Family Film at Halloween

Not-too-scary films of the book

I think films make great gifts for special occasions. We're all busy these days and children just love it when the whole family sits down together to watch a film that everyone enjoys. I organise Film Nights. We invite other children, arrange the seats in rows, the kids make posters and tickets, they usher the adults to their seats with torches, we get out the popcorn and we all have a lovely time!

Roald Dahl's The Witches is scary, funny, charming, gruesome and - above all - entertaining.

Kirikou and the Sorceress is a great film and I'm sure the adults will love it just as much as the children do. I first found this in book form in France, and I can't find a translation into English with the original illustrations, but if you find one, buy it! The pictures are breath-takingly beautiful and the story entrancing. Kirikou and the Wild Beast is just as good.

The gentle Charlie and Lola stories have grown on me over the years, but Thomas the Tank Engine kept both my son and I entralled from when he was a toddler. Great stories even for those who really don't give a toss about trains, (like me).

Finally, the film of The Wild Things. I found this as entrancing as the children did so can thoroughly recommend it. Not at all frightening; just delightful.

Let me know what you think.

Nicole Kidman Stars in The Golden Compass - By Philip Pullman

This is a truly luscious film! The actors, Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Freddie Highmore, Ian McKellen and Dakota Blue Richards are superb, but Nicole Kidman is ideally beautiful, cool and wicked as the evil Mrs. Coulter.

The story takes is to a parallel world where people's souls are 'on the outside' and the cunning and cruel Mrs Coulter is involved in an experiment involving the kidnapping of children in order to sever the link between child and soul.

The graphics and images are breathtaking and the detail is rich enough to test the imagination of the most highly educated of adults, whilst enthralling any child.

The Golden Compass
The Golden Compass

Details Actors: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Freddie Highmore, Ian McKellen, Dakota Blue Richards. Director: Chris Weitz.. Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen. Language: English Subtitles: English, Spanish. Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only). Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested). DVD Release Date: April 29, 2008. Run Time: 113 minutes

 

Scary Stories for Halloween that Readers Have Loved - These are reader recommendations for Halloween stories for kids

Thank you all so much for leaving these Halloween story ideas. It's lovely to be introduced to new authors and new scary stories.

When The Frost is on the Punkin'

Little Orphant Annie, both by James Whitcomb Riley.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving.

The Monster at the End of This Book, a Sesame Street Book

The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree

Nancy Drew books

Encyclopedia Brown mysteries

Halloween at the Zoo: A Pop-Up Trick-Or-Treat Experience by George White, Bruce Foster and Jason O'Malley (Thanks Mickie_G)

My Favourite Books to Read on Holidays and Celebrations Days - Christmas, Easter, Chocolate ...

I just love the idea of giving great books to children as gifts. A wonderful book is something to cherish for a lifetime. Why not give the gift of a book to a child for Easter or Christmas? Take a look at some that I've selected with a holiday celebration theme.

Candles and Pumpkins
Candles and Pumpkins | Source

Just Writing This Brings Back So Many Childhood Memories

Halloweens gone by ..... (sigh)

I'm always keen to read another good book. At the moment my son, now grown up almost, and I are reading Alice in Wonderland and I'm enjoying it all over again.

I'd be delighted to hear from anyone with tried and tested books to read with children of about that age, and perhaps some for the next stage, 14/15 years - if my son still wants to read together then.

Have a wonderful Halloween!

More good books for kids at Halloween

I'm always on the look-out for good books, especially now that my son is 13. I've just read Northern Lights (sometimes titled The Golden Compass) and The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman and loved them. Can't wait to read The Amber Spyglass, the third book in the trilogy His Dark Materials Trilogy (Northern Lights; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass).

The film version of the The Golden Compass is wonderful. Although it didn't seem to overly impress the critics, I though Niclole Kidman was perfect and the polar bears complete with armour, were astonishing.

© 2010 Barbara Walton

What Are Your Favourite Halloween Children's Books? - Scary or not!

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    • profile image

      Mohamed 2 years ago

      The honstey of your posting shines through

    • BLouw profile image
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      Barbara Walton 3 years ago from France

      @Mickie Gee: Hi Mickie_G. Thanks for your comments and your suggestions. I'll certainly have a look at your husbands stories and I'll add your Halloween at the Zoo to a new list of readers' favourites

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      Mickie Goad 3 years ago

      I love "Where the Wild Things Are". I own a pop-up book that I purchased on sale called "Halloween at the Zoo". It is a cute book with all the animals in costumes.

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      Mickie Goad 3 years ago

      My husband is the one who loves to tell scary stories to the grandchildren. Here is my page about his advice for Free Scary Stories for Children. I love the books you have suggested here on your page; there are many books I have not seen before. The glow in the dark Dr. Seuss book is one I am particularly interested in.

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      Barbara Walton 3 years ago from France

      @graphite75: Thanks for dropping by graphite75. Pleased you enjoyed them.

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      Barbara Walton 3 years ago from France

      @burntchestnut: These look lovely, Burntchestnut. I'm going to order them all from the library. I've seen Sleepy Hollow as a film but never read it. Thanks for the ideas.

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      burntchestnut 4 years ago

      From my childhood, I liked two poems: When The Frost is on the Punkin' and Little Orphant Annie, both by James Whitcomb Riley. Then there was The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. I read The Monster at the End of This Book, a Sesame Street Book, and The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree to my son when he was little.

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      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @Cari Kay 11: Many thanks for leaving a message and blessing Cari_Kay. They are deliciously thrilling!

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 4 years ago

      Scary stories can be such a treat when you are young. I think there are a couple here I'd love to read to my daughter! Blessed!

    • graphite75 profile image

      Tom 4 years ago

      Great list of stories. Nice lens!

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 4 years ago

      I'd like to buy By the Light of the Halloween Moon. Can you make it available on Amazon.co.uk through your lens?

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      LynetteBell 4 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      What a lovely lens:)

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      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @sharecuzicare: sharecuzicare, thans so much for these kind words. I should update my list but my son is 15 now and as I live in France, the library is full of French books! I'm looking forward to reading to my grandchildren now!

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      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @shauna1934: These are such great, old favourites. We don't have a glow in the dark copy of 'What Was I Scared Of', just an ordinary one, but I bet the glow in the dark would go down really well. The story is really super though. thanks for your message, and do come back if you have other tried and tested scary story ideas.

    • sharecuzicare profile image

      sharecuzicare 4 years ago

      What a wonderful lens. I read to my son and daughter when they were children and a couple of these books were favorites too!

    • shauna1934 profile image

      shauna1934 4 years ago

      My daughter LOVES In a Dark Dark Room. Never seen the glow in the dark Dr. Seuss one, I'm going to have to get a copy!

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      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @aesta1: Many thanks for dropping by aesta1. The thing is, you might have missed them as a child, but you can still read them - in secret! Better still, grab a child, grandchild or even the child of a friend or neighbour, give them one of these books and INSIST on reading it to them. It's such fun - the kids like it too!

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      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @sharonbellis: Thanks, sbellis. Pleased you liked them.

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      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @anonymous: They are definately worth a read - adult or not!

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      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @Riesling: Many thanks for these kind words, Riesling. Much appreciated.

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      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @HarrietC LM: So many great books - so little time! Thanks for leaving a message HarrietC

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      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @anonymous: MarkoG , many thanks for the visit.

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      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @AidenDavis: So do I!

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      mouse1996 lm 4 years ago

      Nice suggestions for Halloween stories.

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      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @mouse1996 lm: Thanks for taking the time to leave a message, mouse1996

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      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @Scarlettohairy: Thanks for that Scarlettohairy. I haven't read any Nancy Drew stories, but my son has a Nancy Drew computer game! Never heard of the Encyclopedia Brown mysteries - I'll have to check those out.

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      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @Pennyseeker LM: Thanks for dropping by Pennyseeker.

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      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I would love to have read these books as a child.

    • sharonbellis profile image

      Sharon Bellissimo 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Great choices!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      interesting stories thanks for sharing nice lens now I will add such great collections to my library

    • Riesling profile image

      Riesling 4 years ago

      A very great lens, perfect! Great work.

    • HarrietC LM profile image

      HarrietC LM 4 years ago

      wow...more books to add to my list =)

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      interesting ideas

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      AidenDavis 4 years ago

      I love Halloween

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      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I loved the Nancy Drew books and Encyclopedia Brown mysteries!

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      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @OhMe: Thanks OhMe, for leaving these books. I realise that my list is very English and of a certain era.

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      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Oh wow, these are some great Books for Kids. I have written several lenses about some of my favorite Childrens Books and appreciate your letting me add them here:

      A Christmas Tree In The White House by Gary Hines

      Childrens Author Kate Salley Palmer

      Baseball Card Adventure Series by Dan Gutman

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      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @anonymous: Thanks for leaving a comment JziE! If you do think of one, then please leave details.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I don't have one particular scary book that I really like. but these stories are great

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      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @SandyMertens: Thank you so much Sandyspider, for leaving your comment and blessing. Will add my lens.

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      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @JoshK47: Thanks for dropping by JoshK47. The Witches are tops!

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      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @NC Shepherd: I know what you mean. Great excuse to indulge in all the great books for tiny tots. I miss it too, MysticTurtle.

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      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @anonymous: I listen to BBC Radio 4. Lots of stories and plays to listen to including 'Book at Bedtime'! Thank you for visiting, SereneSea.

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      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @agoofyidea: I'll add this one, agoofyidea! Thanks

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      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @poutine: Is that a Halloween book, poutine? Should I add it to my list? Many thanks for contribution.

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      Sandy Mertens 5 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Blessed! Please add this to the non-Zazzle plexo in my Halloween Zazzle and Blessings 2011 lens.

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      JoshK47 5 years ago

      I loved the Witches! Great selections! :)

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      poutine 5 years ago

      Scary stories used to .....scare...me a lot when I was a child.

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      NC Shepherd 5 years ago

      I miss reading to my kids.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      How I wish someone could tell me a bedtime story every night. As a kid I remember, my preference was always spooky stories. Though I was terrified, I did not want to show it.

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      agoofyidea 5 years ago

      Great lens. I recommend the books in the Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney. Really spooky.

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      poutine 5 years ago

      My favorite book for my 2 sons when they were young was "Good Night Moon".

      They just loved that book so much. I had to buy a second one as the first one was

      getting too worn out.

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      Barbara Walton 6 years ago from France

      @debsgreatfinds: Debbie, thanks for leaving a message. I must find out if there are any new one about. My son is 13 now so could take some slightly scarier stories now.

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      debsgreatfinds 6 years ago

      Great lens I remember ready some of the books to my kids as well :)

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      Barbara Walton 6 years ago from France

      @CruiseReady: Thanks for dropping by CruiseReady. The wild Things are great, aren't they?

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      CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

      My grandkids really liked Where the Wild Things Are, too. These are great ideas for halloween stories for children. Nice work.

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      Barbara Walton 6 years ago from France

      @TreasuresBrenda: Thank you Brenda. You made the very fist comment on Squiddo. Many thanks. Will try to find your lens and find out what lensrolling is!

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      Treasures By Brenda 6 years ago from Canada

      Nicely done. You've named a few books I can remember reading to my sons. Lensrolling your lens to mine about pumpkins for kids.