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Not-So-Scary Picture Books for Halloween

By Bailey Keimig-Gehrke, Youth Services

Now that the weather is cooling off and pumpkins are adorning our porch steps, it is the perfect time for families to celebrate all things sweetly spooky with their little ones. Since there is no better way to celebrate than by reading exciting new picture book releases, we have compiled a list of some of our favorite new, seasonal titles for you to explore–but before we get into it…

Parents and caregivers, did you know that one of the biggest benefits of sharing books with your young children is that it gives you both the opportunity to cuddle up close and build up feelings of love and trust? When children associate those feelings of love and safety with being read to, they are more likely to enjoy picking up books and reading on their own as they get older. And when children have an interest in books and reading (what we call “print motivation”), they are more likely to be successful in school when they are older.

Some ways to encourage print motivation in our youngest friends is to let them lead. Choose books on topics they enjoy. If they seem restless or uninterested, put the book down and try again later. Don’t be afraid to be extra silly to bring the stories to life–use voices, act things out, make it fun! And if you ever get stuck on what to read or how to make it fun, don’t be afraid to reach out to one of the children’s librarians here at Carnegie-Stout Public Library.

Now get ready to cuddle up, place your holds, and keep reading fun so you can watch that print motivation grow!

“Hardly Haunted” by Jessie Sima (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021)

This story tells the tale of a house who was lonely. She wants nothing more than for a family to move in so she can keep them safe and warm. The only problem? She thinks she might be a little haunted. This little house is full of creaks and bangs, cobwebs and moans. She does her best to stay still and quiet so that a family will move in and not feel afraid… but it doesn’t feel right to pretend to be something she’s not. Will this little house ever be able to find a family to make her a home?

“Trick or Treat, Crankenstein” by Samantha Berger & Dan Santat (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2021)

Crankenstein is back in his third adventure. This time, he is gearing up for Halloween–his favorite day of the whole entire year. Halloween is a time for fun costumes, tasty treats, and not a bit of crankiness. Of course, nothing ever goes quite right for Crankenstein. An unexpected toothache, a costume fiasco, a pumpkin-carving nightmare, and disaster after disaster makes Crankenstein the crankiest he’s ever been. Will he be able to salvage the holiday or will Crankenstein have to wait until next Halloween to have fun?

“We’re Going on a Pumpkin Hunt” by Goldie Hawk & Angie Rozelaar (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2021)

This adorable picture book is a spooky take on the classic folk song, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” written by Michael Rosen. In this version, three friends are going on a hunt for a nice, big pumpkin but they keep running into obstacles! They face cats, bats, spiders, and more on their journey for their pumpkin. When they eventually find a ghost, will their adventure end? Or will the ghost help them find what they have been searching for? This title is especially fun for children who enjoy singing or acting out stories.

“The Wheels on the Bus at Halloween” by Sarah Kieley (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2021)

This book offers up another fun, spooky twist on a beloved song–the Wheels on the Bus! Readers are invited to take a ride on a magical bus on Halloween. Who is inside the bus? Ghosts saying, “Boo! Boo! Boo!” and witches cackling, “Tee! Hee! Hee!” and even a friendly, roaring monster. Friendly creatures unite on this ride and children are encouraged to sing along throughout the entire story. This latest take on the well-known tune will become a fast favorite for all.

“Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat” by Tracy Gold & Nancy Leschnikoff (Sourcebooks Explore, 2021)

“Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me lots of bugs to eat!” This jaunty, rhyming book balances spooky fun with information about bats and their behaviors. Moths, crickets, and flies with big eyes are all fair game in this hungry bat’s journey. At the end of the book, readers are rewarded with even more facts about bats and the creepy crawly snacks they enjoy. This title is especially great for children who appreciate a little gross-out factor in their bedtime stories and for animal lovers who will adore the uber-cute bat illustrations.

“Hugo Sprouts and the Strange Case of the Beans” by John Loren (HarperCollins, 2021) In this story, we meet little Hugo Sprouts who is fed up with being so small. Being a mad scientist, Hugo decides to whip up a special potion that will make him the biggest kid in town–and it works! Unfortunately, Hugo’s personality was also changed by the potion and he keeps acting like a big jerk. Will Hugo find a way to fix his mistake? This title is perfect for slightly older children who enjoy an element of the truly creepy in their lighthearted Halloween fun.

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