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Spooky (and Not-So-Spooky) Books to Read for Halloween

Reading Listamy sharonyComment

It's the season for spooky readalouds! Whether you're looking for a book that will have you hiding under the cover with a flashlight or just something that gives a nod to favorite Halloween traditions, we've rounded up a fun list of spooky (and not-so-spooky books to enjoy in October.)

Spooky Books

Lewis didn't mean to wake the dead or start an apocalypse. Really. In this deliciously Gothic adventure, Lewis discovers not just that his uncle Jonathan is a witch but also that former owner of his uncle's house left a clock in the walls intended to bring on the end of the world. Oops.

Tales by horror writing masters including Edgar Allan Poe and Bram Stoker make this story collection an ideal Halloween read. It's got a good selection of classics, including "The Monkey's Paw," "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," and "The Masque of the Red Death." (Also, weirdly, "The Yellow Wallpaper," which I guess is kind of spooky if you read it the right way?

The Halloween Tree
By Ray Bradbury

The history of Halloween comes to life in this haunting story of trick-or-treating boys who must travel through the past to save a friend. 

All the classic slumber party scares (and some new ones) are in this spooky story collection. If you were ever afraid to get out of bed in the middle of the night, it was probably because of one of the stories in this book.

The Wolves in the Walls
By Neil Gaiman

A level-headed heroine keeps this book from veering into too-too-scary territory. Lucy is sure there are wolves living in the walls of her house—she can hear them!—but no one believes her until it's too late.

Three seriously spooky girls (and one pretty spooky boy) have to help save the town of Widowsbury from a dark curse. People are disappearing, and the four misfits are the only ones with the ability to set things right.

The House of Dies Drear
By Virginia Hamilton

Thomas is thrilled to learn his family's new home is haunted by ghosts from the days of the Underground Railroad, but he's not prepared for how spooky living in a haunted house can be.

The Battlefield Ghost
By Margery Cuyler

A Revolutionary War soldier has a ghostly secret to tell in this not-too-scary book. Bonus: You'll learn a lot about the Battle of Princeton and the role of German mercenaries in the American Revolution.

After the rest of their family dies suspiciously of arsenic poisoning, Merricat and Constance live an isolated life in their family's grand old house. Jackson manages her usual balance of macabre humor and growing unease in this story that slowly grows more and more un-put-down-able as you read.

The Witches
By Roald Dahl

Witches are real, and the last place you want to be if you're a child is at their annual meeting. Roald Dahl is so silly, so funny, so charming that you almost forget to be completely terrified by this creepy tale. Almost.

Coraline
By Neil Gaiman

If you haven't read this creepy book about a girl who discovers a strange world inside her new home, you should add it to your Halloween list. 

A Tale Dark and Grimm
By Adam Gidwitz

Hansel and Gretel explore the darker side of Grimm's fairy tales in this book. Gidwitz is adamant that sanitized stories leave out all the good parts, so expect plenty of gruesome happenings in this wry retelling.

Russell's magic ring can turn him into a monster—but what will change him back? It's a fun intro-to-scary-books read with just enough thrills and chills to keep things exciting without keeping you up all night.


Not-So-Spooky Books

Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery
By Deborah Howe, James Howe

A bunny vampire sucks the juice from vegetables in this story told from the perspective of the family pets. My kids have read this book so many times, I think we all know it by heart.

I'm Looking for a Monster!
By Timothy Young

Help this book's young hero find his perfect monster in the playful pop-up pictures.

The clues to tricky puzzles lie in the very detailed illustrations of this book.

Moonlight: The Halloween Cat
By Cynthia Rylant

This soothing book takes the spooky out of Halloween by focusing on its community spirit.

The little old lady's creative solution for her haunting pursuers makes this a fun — and funny — readaloud.

In the Haunted House
By Eve Bunting

Spooky rhymes and a playful plot make this story more fun than fearful.

What do you do with a house full of monsters? Make friends with them.

A naughty boy breaks all the rules for hosting vampires in this silly story.

The Hallo-Weiner
Scholastic Paperbacks

Poor dachshund Oscar doesn't want to dress up as a hot dog for Halloween, but when his friends are in trouble, he proves that he's a hero, silly costume or not.

Mommy? ( a pop-up book)
By Arthur Yorinks

Monstrous pop-ups illustrate a boy's hunt through creepy creatures for his mother in this whimsical book illustrated by Maurice Sendak.