Reading to or with your kids before bedtime should be a fun-loving time, Mom, but around October 31, the stories you tell might start to get a little scarier. To prepare your little one for all the Halloween-themed shenanigans that are about to ensue, grab a spooky read and turn storytime into haunted storytime.
Of course, you don’t want to freak out your kid too much, especially if they’re little, so we’ve included some G-rated pumpkin stories in addition to some of the more spooky stuff. From the Little Golden Book version of Disney’s Coco to toddler- and baby-friendly board-books like Goodnight Goon, we promise these bedtime reads are the appropriate amount of terrifying. Sure, there are ghosts and witches and monsters, but nothing so fearsome that your kid will have nightmares.
So, what are you waiting for, Mom? It’s never to early to start getting your kids in the Halloween spirit, especially if books are involved.
Children love Pete the Cat and will follow his story wherever he goes, even trick-or-treating on Halloween. In this lift-the-flap kids’ Halloween book, Pete enjoys Halloween and candy but really doesn’t enjoy scary surprises. Your child will love following along as Pete goes house to house, uncovering what could possibly be waiting behind each door. In case you needed more of a green-light for Pete, the artist James Dean is a New York Times bestselling artist, so you can rest assured that you’re also exposing your child to some damn good art.
Witches are easily digestible for kids, maybe more so than scary-looking monsters with only one eyeball and sharp teeth. For this reason, Room on the Broom is a great stepping stone into Halloween-themed books as it’s charming and high-spirited — not at all terrifying. Follow the witch and her cat as they fly through the sky on their broomstick; suddenly, the wind picks up, blowing away the witch’s hat, bow, and then her wand. Three animals come help her find the blown-away items, asking for a ride on the broom in exchange. But is there room on the broom for all these new friends? Oh, and for good measure, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler threw a dragon in there, too.
PINK OR TREAT, GIMME SOMETHING GOOD TO EAT
Kids love Pinkalicious and they will love her even more on October 31. Pinkalicious: Pink or Treat is an 8×8 illustrated storybook that follows Pinkalicious after the mayor cancels Halloween due to a storm that knocks out the town’s power. Total bummer, right?! By harnessing the power of her Halloween costume — Superhero Pinkagirl — Pinkalicious decides to save Halloween by figuring out a way to restore the town’s power. Bonus reason to check out this book: Pink or Treat comes with a sheet of stickers that kids can use to decorate Pinkalicious’ town for Halloween.
If your tiny reader-in-training is Llama Llama obsessed, they will really enjoy this creepy tale in which her favorite Llama Llama characters take a stab at Halloween. The words are short and simple and always rhyme, so your child will have no problem following along and when they’re ready, even reading the text themselves. In the book, little llama finds the perfect costume, picks out a pumpkin for a jack-o’-lantern, and goes trick or treating with his Mama and friends. Since your family is probably doing all the same things this fall, your kid will love having so much in common with Llama Llama.
A CLASSIC HALLOWEEN TALE
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown by Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz is a classic Halloween tale for children and arguably, one of the most iconic Halloween-themed children’s books of all time. Read along with your little peanut as the Peanuts gang dresses up in costumes, goes trick-or-treating, and bobs for apples, all while Linus waits for the Great Pumpkin to rise from the patch and bring toys to children all over the world. Don’t be surprised after reading this classic story if you catch your kid staring at the pumpkin patch when you inevitably go to pick-your-own this fall.
THE CREEPIEST BEDTIME STORY EVER
Michael Rex hit the nail on the head when he subtitled this children’s book “a petrifying parody.” Goodnight Goon is the #1 New York Times bestselling picture parody board book that substitutes “goodnight room” for black lagoon and slimy claws, jaws, skulls, and a shoe, and a pot full of goo. It’s creepy, yes, but it’s just familiar enough to pique your kid’s interest and keep them entertained right before falling asleep. Best leave a night-light on after reading this one… #JustSaying.
SKELETONS — BUT MAKE IT LIGHT-HEARTED
Poor, poor Bonaparte. Bonaparte is a young skeleton who is just trying to hang loose and have a good time, but his fickle body parts keep detaching from the rest of him. How can he start school when his arms and legs quite literally keep falling apart? The perfect read for younger children who maybe aren’t yet ready for a scary ghost story, this humorous picture book is about friendship, school, some boneheaded ideas, and ultimately, finding confidence.
It may be named The Scariest Book Ever but your child will learn to wonder pretty quickly: Is the ghost-narrator trust-worthy or rather, super melodramatic? With each turn of the page, you’ll never know who will follow you along the way (not always your ghost-narrator!) and who will pop up unexpectedly (bunnies? monsters with fangs? Yikes!). But for all the ghost-narrator’s scare-mongering, nothing in this book — not even the fanged foes themselves — seem or act all that scary. If you have a fear-ridden child who often complains of monsters under the bed, this is the perfect book to snap them out of it as it challenges them: Is it really scary or simply make-believe?
SHE MAY BE DEAD, BUT SHE’S STILL PRETTY
It is never — we repeat never — too early to instill a love for Buffy the Vampire Slayer in your children. While the TV show (Netflix reruns 4eva) might be too graphic if they’re still young (monsters, PG-13 vampire boning, and gory demon masks, oh my!) this Pop Classics version of the fan-favorite cult classic TV show turns the Buffyverse into a kid-friendly picture book. Your kid will love what a badass Buffy and her friends Willow and Xander are as they investigate strange sounds in the closet, encounter notorious monsters, and of course, consult the always-wise librarian, Giles. Illustrated by Kim Smith and based on the series by Joss Whedon, children will find this bedtime story endearing and you will love reliving one of your all-time fave 90s shows.
You may have grown up during the era of Christina Ricci and Hilary Duff befriending Casper (in separate movies of course), but How to Make Friends With a Ghost by Rebecca Green is essentially the 2019 version your kid will love. Basically a how-to book on making friends with spirits, Rebecca Green offers hilarious and cutesy advice (don’t let anyone mistake your ghost-friend for whipped cream or a marshmallow and always bring your ghost-friend yummy snacks like mud tarts and earwax truffles) that is so rated-G, you can read this to even the youngest of kids. HTMFWAG is fun and light-hearted and at its core, about friendship.
There’s nothing like a book you can sing along to. This haunted version of the classic children’s song “Wheels on the Bus” will have you and your kids singing with excitement as you turn the pages to reveal ghoulish tricks, and of course, a few treats, too. Great for kids just learning their numbers, The Spooky Wheels on the Bus counts from one spooky bus all the way up to ten goofy ghosts as this Halloween ride races through town picking up some interesting passengers along the way.
Kids freakin’ love Coco, the 2017 animated movie from Disney and Pixar in which Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. The only problem is, his familia believes music to be cursed and his abuela has banned the listening to and playing of music for years. This Little Golden Book version of the animated film brings your kid’s favorite characters to life on the page — Miguel, Hector, Dante, and more — as the group wanders through the Land of the Dead. Perfect for children ages 2 to 5, Coco retells all the excitement and adventure of the movie and allows you, as the designated reader, to really bring Miguel’s world to life.
Remember Corduroy and his adorable green overalls? Well, your favorite fuzzy teddy bear is back and this time he’s not hoping to be bought by a little girl in the store. He can barely contain his excitement for Halloween and he’s planning a party that features pumpkin-carving, bobbing for apples, all his friends, and of course, trick-or-treating! BUT, can Corduroy trade in his overalls for a Halloween costume? Your child will enjoy reading along as Corduroy goes on the hunt for the perfect Halloween attire and you’ll love all the nostalgia that comes with returning to the adventures of Corduroy.
Even the tiniest of readers can participate in One, Two… Boo!, a picture book that features liftable flaps. Have your little one help you count your way through the spookiest haunted house ever and make sure to be prepared for a few tricky surprises. With a flap on every page and illustrations that make ghosts, owls, and black cats seem cute and totally not scary at all, this is a great family-friendly read everyone can enjoy.
Mother Knows Best, doesn’t she? By now, both you and your child have re-watched the Disney-Pixar movie Tangled loads and loads of times. You know how tricky Flynn Ryder can be and you love the quirky Pascale and sassy horse Maximus. But according to Mother Gothel, you only know half of the story. In a follow-up tale not unlike Wicked, Mother Gothel gives her version of events, retelling the infamous tale of the legendary golden flower and how she came to raise Rapunzel. Love playing devil’s advocate with your kids? This story takes the villain and puts her front and center, an unexpected twist that your kids will undoubtedly find fascinating.
Are you spooky? Do you know it? Clap your freakin’ hands! Essentially just a Halloween book version of the classic children’s song “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands!,” the monsters in this book want to show you and your children just how spooky they are. As you turn each page, you’ll find spooky skeletons clapping their hands, wicked witches stomping their feet, and werewolves jumping up and down. And so much more! Little kids will have the time of their lives singing, clapping, and stomping along to this frightful book with a Halloween-themed twist.
IT’S ABOUT TO GET PECULIAR
Got an older, more seasoned reader on your hands? Try Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. The young-adult-novel-turned-movie takes place at an abandoned orphanage on a mysterious island where curious and peculiar things seem to constantly happen. Featuring haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s is sure to delight teens, adults, and mature kids alike who enjoy good books, getting the creeps, and of course, quality storytelling.
There’s a monster that lives inside this book and it’s up to you and your little one to shake, wiggle, and tickle him out before the clock strikes midnight on October 31. An interactive bedtime story from Youtube star and musician Tom Fletcher, There’s a Monster in Your Book will have both you and your children tilting, spinning, and ultimately, making memories as you both desperately try to free the monster. Nothing like a little shaking and tickling to tire the kids out right before bed!
INTRODUCE THEM TO THE BOY WHO LIVED
It’s never to early to start reading the masterpiece that is the Harry Potter series. With so much of the wizarding world revolving around owls, wizardry, and yep — even trolls — no matter the age of your little reader, the Boy Who Lived will absolutely resonate. The illustrated edition, with illustrations by Jim Kay, is the perfect way to introduce your child to HP, and features over 100 stunning illustrations Potterheads-in-training will find absolutely magical.
The warty green witch who lives at the old haunted house in a room with no sun has creatures and monsters of all kinds. As you read to your little tyke before bedtime, you’ll be introduced to a family of goblins, a scrawny black cat, and wee kittens three. Written in the pattern of the popular poem-slash-book Over in the Meadow, you and your child will find At the Old Haunted House sing-songy and therefore, ultimately irresistible. Reaching for a different book before bedtime? We guarantee your kid will beg you: “Mom, read the monster one again!”
Hotel Transylvania isn’t just an animated series — it’s now a book series, too! In Code Blob!, Mavis accidentally magics her friend Wendy the blob into an even bigger blob. This Level 2 Ready-to-Read book is based on an episode of the Disney Channel show Hotel Transylvania: The Series and features easy-to-read text that’s perfect for young kids gaining the confidence to read on their own. You can be there, Mom, as your kid turns each page, reading to you for a change, and we promise, your little one (who’s really not so little anymore) will appreciate you being there as she ventures into full-blown book-nerdom. Oh, and this book comes with two sheets of stickers!
Have a kid who needs to get her sleep but can’t because of imaginary monsters? Your child needs to meet Winifred Schnitzel, the protagonist of Monster Trouble who is in the same exact boat. Winifred needs her sleep but those dang neighborhood monsters won’t let her get her rest. They sneak in at night, growling and making all the noise. Through trial and error, Winifred finally finds the solution to her monster-induced insomnia: Kisses! Monsters hate kisses apparently and this sweet, didn’t-see-it-coming ending will show your kid there really is nothing to be afraid of, even in the dark.
HOOT, HOWL, AND READ ALONG
Tiny toddlers will love how interactive this board book is. Hoot Howl Halloween features 10 spooky sounds with easy-to-press buttons that your baby can touch even with the smallest of hands. As you read, you’ll hear ghosts wailing, witches cackling, bats flapping, and bones jangling. It’s a great way to introduce Halloween to your growing tot without giving them the creeps!
We know a lot about Frankenstein — that he’s green, has bolts in his neck, and was created by Mary Shelley — but did you know he’s a certified yoga teacher, too? Available on Kindle, Frankenstein Teaches Yoga introduces your kids to Franky, a charismatic, fun-loving kid who does yoga because it makes him feel good. Sure, it’s Halloween-themed, but it’s also a great way to on-the-DL introduce yoga to your kids. As Franky shares his favorite yoga poses, you’ll be secretly teaching your children how to alleviate common stressors. This book goes beyond the spooky factor and addresses kids’ emotional, social, and physical challenges or conflicts through the introduction of an intentional yoga practice. Who knew Halloween could be meditative?!
BECAUSE TEETH ARE FOR LOSING, NOT SUCKING BLOOD
Think little vampires don’t lose their teeth and get visits from the tooth fairy? Think again, Mom. The tooth fairy visits every child, even Little Vampire, the star of our batty and fanged story. Little Vampire’s Big Smile is an easy-to-hold board book that’s cute, charming, and supports early literacy skills. Plus, it can help prepare your kid for when they lose their first tooth.
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