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The Best Halloween Kids Books for Preschool and Early Elementary
Halloween Kids Books Come In Many Varieties
Halloween is America's favorite holiday, with candy, dress-up, and a chance to be someone else for the day. But for young preschoolers, Halloween can be a little scary. I selected these Halloween stories to include a few with a mildly spooky theme. Most children who go trick-or-treating on Halloween night or even those attending Halloween-themed parties at a local church or civic organization are likely to encounter spooky images. These books will help children explore Halloween and to face their fears with a sense of humor, and to know that Halloween can be a little spooky and still be a lot of fun.
Facing fears can lead to creative ideas
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
In the story The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams and Megan Lloyd, the heroine's courage and patience is tested to the limit when she is repeatedly followed home by threatening and sinister clothes. Lots of sound effects and onomotopoeia make this weirdly scary story almost, but not too scary a book for kindergarten and up. It has all the right elements that make this story an excellent read-aloud choice for a dark and stormy Halloween night, allowing children to read along and chime in on the sound effects as the teacher reads the book to the class. Williams and Lloyd have managed to capture the essence of fairy tales rooted in a dangerous past without literally scaring the pants off of her audience. The predictable resolution to the past helps to soften the otherwise frightening themes of this modern classic for Halloween. This is a classic choice for Halloween: all of my four children's kindergarten teachers have presented this book as part of a Halloween curriculum.
Blending traditions from two cultures makes Halloween fun
Behind the Mask
Behind the Mask by Yangsook Choi is a realistic fiction story for elementary ages. This story about young Korean-American Kimin and the special mask he inherited from his grandfather, who wore it in Korea as part of a rich cultural heritage. Kimin gets to enjoy Halloween while learning something about his family tree. This unique Halloween story turns away from the usually spooky stuff, and instead explores the viewpoint of a child whose blended cultural traditions are a reality for many. Children who read this story may also appreciate the more straightforward storyline of a boy discovering a mask and overcoming his fear. This story is more advanced and detailed than some of the others in the list, so it is recommended for first grade and up, but offers a rewarding alternative to some of the more saccharine stories available on a Halloween theme.
When everyone works together, we can find satisfying solutions to big problems.
Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman, S.D. Schindler is a humorous story with some familiar Halloween faces. Four Halloween fiends, um friends, get into a boasting match when a witch cannot move the big pumpkin she plans to use to make a pumpkin pie. After all, it is as big as she is! After the mummy, the vampire, and the monster all attempt to move the pumpkin on their own, a wise little bat suggests that teamwork will do the trick. This tale has a positive message about working together to solve problems, and some enjoyable illustrations. This book is a good choice for preschool-through kindergarten classrooms trying to incorporate STEAM concepts into their curriculum.
Goolish ghosts make gross goulash!
It is unusual to find an actual GHOST STORY in a children's picture book, but The Perfect Pumpkin Pie offers a ghoulish gourmand, a haunted house, and plenty of laughter amid some riotously funny illustrations. Though this book might be a little scary for younger children, but would be fun to scare (I mean share) with second graders and up. Be sure to preview this one before you read it.
Kids in costume make Halloween fun
Spooky, Spooky, Spooky!
Spooky, Spooky, Spooky! by Cathy MacLennan is a book that manages to be just a little bit spooky without ever going into scary territory. Geared to younger preschoolers, this book has silly images and a read-aloud text that works well in a Halloween-themed story time.
Silly skeleton gets rid of the hiccups
A humorous take on a sometimes scary image during Halloween is found in Margery Cuyler's Skeleton Hiccups. The skeleton in this book is doing so many zany and silly things to get rid of his hiccups that everyone forgets that a skeleton is scary. So while Skeleton's friend, Ghost is unable to scare him into stopping his annoying hiccups, Skeleton startles himself! If you enjoy this book, check out her other title, The Bumpy Little Pumpkin, in my Pumpkin-Themed Books for Preschoolers article.
A little witch faces her fears on Halloween night
A Very Brave Witch
A Very Brave Witch by Alison McGhee and Harry Bliss is a preschool-friendly story featuring a cute, green witch who enjoys flying on a broom and bringing her pet cat along with her. The witch's companions are all afraid of humans. When the brave little witch goes out exploring on her favorite holiday, Halloween night, she accidentally falls off her broom and befriends a young girl who is also dressed up as a witch for Halloween. This book does addresses some early childhood fears about Halloween, costumes, witches, and trick-or-treating.
Beautifully illustrated for younger children
Halloween Choices For Younger Preschoolers
For some Halloween fun for younger preschoolers, check out these titles that are all about treats, costumes, candy, and pumpkins. These stories would be an apt choice for a dance-party style story time with finger plays and a craft in a large group.
Moonlight the Halloween Cat by two-time Newberry winning author Cynthia Rylant tells the story of a Halloween night through the eyes of a cute little black cat named Moonlight, who enjoys Halloween following the children who do not see her, and the lap of an unsuspecting scarecrow. This book represents the familiar images of Halloween in a fresh and friendly way that will put anxious preschoolers at ease about this sometimes scary holiday.
Dressing up on Halloween is lots of fun
On Halloween Night
Looking for a book that focuses on dressing up in a Halloween costume? On Halloween Night by Harriet Ziefert and Renee Andriani-Williams is a preschooler-friendly story of Emily getting dressed for Halloween night. This book would be a good choice for younger preschoolers who are new to the experience of dressing up.
Carry the theme of a parade of trick-or-treaters with Scary, Scary Halloween by the prolific and talented Eve Bunting. A rhyming story coupled with mood-evoking illustrations by Jan Brett make this a scary, but not too scary selection for preschool and up. Another title in this category by Eve Bunting is In The Haunted House, which is also written in a rhyming style, and follows a young girl and her older brother? father? through the haunted house, which is full of eery-looking everyday objects.
What to do with all those leftover jack-o-lanterns? Excellent STEAM or STEM selection
Pumpkin Books for the Day After Halloween
Are you looking for a book to read the day after Halloween? Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell may be the answer. This book is the story of what happens to a jack-o-lantern recycled into the dying family garden, when it is regenerates into a thriving and abundantly fruitful garden plant. Tim shares the bounty with his classmates after carefully taking care of his pumpkin patch through the seasons. This story ends where it began, on the Eve of Halloween. A highly satisfying work of realistic fiction with detailed pictures and descriptions of the life-cycle of a pumpkin plant in the garden.
A similar story featured in my list of pumpkin books is Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White. This favorite story is well-known to most teachers but doesn't diminish the fact that this character-driven allegory is one of my favorite children's books. If you have the time, click on the title and read my full review of one of my favorite must-read children's books for autumn, Thanksgiving, or Halloween.
Heartfelt story of sharing with others
More Themed Children's Picture Books
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Thanksgiving holiday stories are the theme of this article about children's picture books for library story time or preschool. This list includes a variety of light-hearted turkey tales and more serious books about gratitude and being thankful.
- Preschool Books About Fire Safety and Prevention
Fire prevention and safety is one of the most important topics you can teach preschool-aged children. These appealing children's picture books can help you prepare a preschool lesson or a storytime presentation for your local library.
- Pumpkin-Themed Preschool Books With Activity Ideas
Pumpkin-themed reading list for your preschool circle time, library storytime, or anytime! Reading lists include pumpkin-themed fantasy fiction and realistic fiction, including a few titles that are also Halloween selections.
- Preschool Books: Spider Theme
This collection of spider-themed children's books for preschoolers includes fiction and nonfiction titles to help parents, teachers, or storytime presenters in lesson prep or just to find some enjoyable reading featuring favorite 8-legged creatures!
- Preschool Books: Monster Theme
During Halloween season or anytime, this list of recommended children's picture books featuring monsters will be fun and maybe just a little bit scary? for the preschool and early-elementary aged-readers in your life.
Did you find these book recommendations helpful?
Will you use one or more of these books in your teaching or reading at home?
© 2011 Carolyn Augustine