Spooky and Scary Stories for Children

Spook Up Your Classroom with These Frighteningly Good Halloween Picture Books!

Halloween is a time for spooky and silly fun, and what better way to celebrate this ghoulish holiday than with a selection of spooky and fun Halloween picture books? Whether you’re looking for a laugh-out-loud tale or a spine-tingling story, there are plenty of memorable Halloween children's books to choose from.

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A Quick History of Halloween

Did you know that Halloween started out as an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain? As Autumn began, the Celts believed the boundary between our world and the world of ghosts was so fragile that spooky beings could wander freely. To prevent the unearthly invasion, the Celts had a huge feast, lighting bonfires and wearing costumes to scare away the ghouls and monsters. 

In the 8th century, the Pope incorporated aspects of the Samhain festival into All Saint Day when Catholics honoured the saints on 1st November. The night before became known as All Hallow’s Eve and eventually Halloween. Dressing up is still a big part of the festival; buckets of candy and chocolates have replaced the feast!

Benefits of Reading Halloween Picture Books

Reading Halloween children’s books in the classroom is a great way to enhance your students’ imagination, vocabulary, and social and emotional skills. They provide a fun and engaging way to explore important themes and concepts related to the holiday.

Engaging and fun: Halloween picture books can be engaging and fun for students, especially younger children who enjoy stories with colourful illustrations and fun characters.

Language development: Reading picture books aloud helps develop children’s language skills, including vocabulary, sentence structure, and comprehension.

Promotes creativity: Halloween picture books often have imaginative characters and settings that can inspire children to use their imagination to create stories and artwork.

Introduces cultural traditions: Halloween is a cultural holiday celebrated in many countries worldwide, and reading Halloween picture books helps introduce students to different cultural traditions and practices.

Halloween Picture Books

Alfred's Book of Monsters by Sam Streed

Alfred loves creepy, spooky, and scary. He reads a book about local monsters and comes up with a mischievous plan to make his tea time with Aunty more exciting. An aunty who thinks monsters are an improper obsession for a respectable young boy. Alfred invites his favourite monsters to the tea party, hoping to make it less delightful and more adventurous. As the monsters arrive, they create havoc and chaos.

Black Dog by Levi Pinfold

Black Dog takes us to a family home where a large black dog grows in size and menace, causing fear among the family members. Yet, the smallest one shows immense courage and open-mindedness to discover the truth about the dog.

Engage your students in discussions about overcoming fears, taking risks, and not letting fear control our perception. Encourage them to conquer their fears and take on challenges bravely.

The Book That Eats People by John Perry

This one-of-a-kind book comes alive, lurking in libraries and disguising itself behind different dust jackets, harbouring a taste for careless children.

The Book That Eats People presents an opportunity to discuss the magic and power of books, the importance of respecting library rules and fostering a sense of caution and responsibility.

A Boy and a House by Maja Kastelic

In this wordless picture book, a curious boy follows a cat into an open door of an apartment building. In the lobby, he picks up a discarded drawing from the floor. He continues up the stairway and discovers an open door leading to an apartment filled with books, toys, and a table set for tea. The boy finds more discarded drawings scattered throughout the room, which he collects before continuing his journey. Sketches in hand, the boy finally reaches the attic, where a wondrous surprise awaits him.

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds

Jasper Rabbit is a carrot lover. However, things take a turn when the carrots start to stalk him, leading to Jasper’s imagination running wild. As the tension escalates, Jasper devises a strategy to fend off the creepy carrots.

Creepy Carrots serves as a springboard for discussing overcoming fears and the importance of honesty. Jasper’s imaginative adventure shows that confronting our fears can often lead to unexpected outcomes.

The Dark by Lemony Snicket

Lazlo fears the dark, which appears to live in his basement. When his nightlight burns out, the dark invites him to venture into the scary depths of the basement. As Lazlo confronts his fears, he discovers the dark leads him towards a drawer and discovers facing fears can lead to unexpected solutions.

The Dark encourages discussions in your classroom on overcoming fears, taking risks, building confidence, and persevering in adversity.

Funnybones by Allan Ahlberg

Three skeletons, Big Skeleton, Little Skeleton, and Dog Skeleton, live in a dark cellar of a spooky house on a hill. 

One dark, dark, dark night, they set out to spook someone. However, everyone is asleep in their beds. So they entertain themselves by frightening one another.

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara

A little witch ingeniously resolves the problem of her haunted house. Instead of being frightened, she washes the ghosts, hangs them out to dry, and cleverly utilizes them as bed sheets and curtains!

Ghosts in the House! invites discussions on problem-solving, creativity, and turning seemingly negative situations into positive ones.

The Ghost of Miss Annabel Spoon by Aaron Blabey

Annabel Spoon haunts the town of Twee. As the fed-up townsfolk clamour for her disappearance, one man, Herbert Kettle, takes the time to listen – all Annabel wants is a friend.

The Ghost of Miss Annabel Spoon sparks conversations on compassion and acceptance, the effects of loneliness, and a sense of belonging. It reminds us that understanding and friendship can dispel fear and mistrust.

The Haunted Lake by P. J. Lynch

When fishing with his father, Michael sees a ghostly figure emerge from the mist and disappear beneath the lake. He becomes convinced that the lake is haunted despite his father’s scepticism. As Michael continues to fish, he encounters other mysterious creatures that add to his fear. When he finally catches a fish, he realizes it’s not a monster but a beautiful trout.

The Haunted Lake teaches valuable lessons about overcoming fear, accepting differences, and appreciating nature’s beauty.

Heckedy Peg by Audrey Wood

A wicked witch, Heckedy Peg, transforms seven children into food items and spirits them away to her cave. But their mother’s quick thinking and cunning outwits the witch, leading to a triumphant reunion with her children.

Heckedy Peg provides a platform for discussions on the consequences of disobedience, the power of creative thinking, and the art of prediction.

How to Make Friends with a Ghost by Rebecca Green

Dr. Phantoneous Spookel’s manual describes how to befriend a ghost – If you are warm, sweet, and kind, a ghost might just seek your companionship. From providing their preferred (disgusting) snacks to sharing bedtime stories, the bond can flourish as you grow old together.

How to Make Friends with a Ghost sparks discussions about friendships found in the most unexpected places, kindness, and patience.

Into the Forest by Anthony Browne

A boy defies his mother’s warnings and ventures through the forest to visit his grandma. He encounters many fairy tale characters caught in peculiar situations along the way. Overwhelmed by fear, he rushes to his grandma’s house, where an unexpected surprise awaits him.

Into the Forest promotes discussions about courage, the allure and consequences of disobedience, and the surprises that life’s journey can offer.

It Came From the Basement by M. R. Kessell

A collection of thirty-one rhymes pay homage to monsters and other spooky creatures. It brings to life the nightmares (with some humour) children have about ghouls and other fiends lurking in their home’s dark corners. Teachers can use this imaginative book to engage students, explore creative storytelling, and spark discussions about monsters and imagination.

Lenny & Lucy by Philip C. Stead

Peter moves to a new house in a somewhat daunting, unfriendly wood. To cope with his fears, Peter constructs imaginary protectors, Lenny and Lucy, giving him a sense of safety. He befriends his next-door neighbour, Millie, leading to the realization that his new environment is not as scary as he had imagined.

Lenny & Lucy encourages discussions on fear of the unknown, creating coping mechanisms, the power of imagination, and the importance of friendship.

Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett

Leo has lived in an old house for many years, but when a family moves in, they are frightened by him. The lonely ghost sets out to find a new home and a friend who will appreciate him for who he is. After wandering, Leo meets Jane, who can see and speak to him and thinks the ghost is an imaginary friend. Leo worries about Jane discovering his real identity, but an incident at Jane’s home shows Jane is the perfect friend for Leo.

This tale will inspire children to reflect on the significance of empathy towards those who may not fit in, honesty, and inclusivity.

The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt by Riel Nason

Unlike the traditional sheet ghosts who can twirl and whirl in the sky, the quilt ghost gets hot every time it attempts to fly. This ghost feels isolated, unable to keep up with its friends. One Halloween, this quilt ghost finds a place where it belongs.

The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt lends itself to discussions on individuality, belonging, self-acceptance, and overcoming challenges.

Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears by Emily Gravett

A timid mouse has an ever-growing list of fears. From loud noises and the darkness to being sucked down the drain and the terrifying presence of cats. The mouse draws pictures of its fear but does not realise that something afraid of him.

Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears encourages discussions about courage, fear, perspectives, and self-awareness. The story helps children acknowledge their own fears and the courage it takes to confront them.

Lon Po Po by Ed Young

Lon Po Po is a Chinese rendition of Little Red Riding Hood. Three sisters are left at home by their mother, and a wolf visits them. The youngest sister unknowingly allows the wolf in, and it’s up to the elder sisters to outwit the beast and ensure their safety.

The book invites comparison and contrast with other versions of the classic fairy tale while sparking discussions on courage, quick thinking, and the strength of family bonds.

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg

A cryptic title and a caption accompany fourteen detailed, black-and-white illustrations. These are the enigmatic contributions of the elusive artist Harris Burdick, leaving the interpretation and completion of each narrative to the reader’s imagination.

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, a wordless book, encourages creative writing, promotes different perspectives, and fosters inference and question formulation skills.

The Night Monster by Sushree Mishra

The Night Monster by Sushree Mishra

Avi fears the Night Monster that creeps into his room every night. His sister suggests he writes to the monster, and Avi begins to communicate with the Night Monster via letters. Through these letters, Avi discovers that the Night Monster is not real, but rather, the noises and shadows at night are making him afraid. The Night Monster will inspire young readers to face their fears and find creative ways to communicate their feelings.

Only a Witch Can Fly by Alison McGhee

A young girl dreams of flying but struggles to get off the ground. Despite this, the girl keeps trying and eventually discovers that she can fly in her own unique way. The story celebrates perseverance, finding your own path in life, and not giving up on your dreams, even if they don’t fit the mould of what is expected of them.

The Pomegranate Witch by Denise Doyen

A group of children in a small town long for the juicy pomegranates hanging from a tree in a garden. But, the garden belongs to a reputed witch fiercely protective of her fruit. They find the courage to invade the witch’s property, and a chase ensues.

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson

A witch flying on her broomstick loses her hat, bow, and wand. As she searches for them, she encounters a dog, a bird, and a frog, who ask for a ride on her broomstick. The witch kindly agrees; however, their journey is interrupted by a fierce dragon who wants to eat the witch. The animals work together to scare off the dragon, and the witch rewards them with a magical surprise. 

Room on the Broom is a tale of kindness and teamwork and encourages your students to think about helping others.

The Skull: A Tyrolean Folktale by Jon Klassen

The Skull: A Tyrolean Folktale by Jon Klassen

A brave girl, Otilla, runs away from danger and becomes friends with a skull that lives in an abandoned house on a hill. The skull is afraid of something that comes every night, and Otilla sets out to help them both. The story emphasizes facing fears, kindness, and overcoming challenges.

There's a Ghost in This House by Oliver Jeffers

A curious girl has never seen a ghost despite living in a large, old house and hearing mysterious noises. She invites the reader to join her exploration, pondering what a ghost might look like and what it could do. 

There’s a Ghost in This House fosters discussions on mystery, exploration, perception, and the fun in the unseen and unknown. The book encourages curiosity, observational skills, and the joy of imagination.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Max, who wears a wolf suit, is sent to bed without supper for misbehaving. That night, a forest grows in his bedroom, and a boat takes Max to where the wild things live. Max tames the wild things and crowns himself as their leader. After he sends the wild things to bed, a lonely Max sets off home, where he finds his supper waiting for him.

Where the Wild Things Are will spark discussions on character development, inference, word choice and banned books.

The Widow's Broom by Chris Van Allsburg

Minna Shaw, a widow, discovers an unusual broom when a witch crashes into her garden. The broom helps Minna with domestic tasks, but her neighbours are suspicious. When two local boys torment the broom and get a lesson they won’t forget, the neighbours demand Minna destroy it.

The Widow’s Broom delves into themes of fear of the unknown, the value of companionship, intolerance, and standing up against ungrounded biases.