Halloween may be a holiday most associated with costumes and candy, but you should never doubt the power of a good scary story to evoke that imaginative spooky spirit.
Halloween provides the perfect opportunity to dive into a world of ghouls, ghosts, witches, and werewolves through the pages of a well-chosen book.
Here are some of the best Halloween books for toddlers, children, and teens that are perfect for a dark stormy night or a cozy autumn evening.
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
Ages 2 to 5
Room on the Broom is a delightful picture book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. It tells the story of a kind witch who invites various animals to join her on her broomstick.
This charming tale of friendship and teamwork is ideal for preschoolers and early readers who are just learning about Halloween.
Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman
Ages 2 to 5
Big Pumpkin is a fun Halloween-themed book about a witch, a pumpkin, and a cast of quirky characters who all want nothing more than to enjoy pumpkin pie.
The playful language and vibrant illustrations make this book a great way for little ones to get into the Halloween spirit.
The Littlest Mummy by Brandi Dougherty
Ages 3 to 5
The Littlest Mummy tells the story of a tiny mummy who wants to join in the Halloween festivities but feels too small. This adorable and heartwarming picture book emphasizes the importance of inclusion and finding a place to belong.
The Dark by Lemony Snicket
Ages 2 to 6
Beloved children’s author Lemony Snicket is the mind behind this beautiful and inspiring story. The Dark is an expressively illustrated picture book that tells the story of Laszlo, a young boy afraid of the dark.
When the dark comes to life and leads Laszlo on a mysterious adventure, he learns to confront his fears. After all, it’s the things that initially scare us that often leave us with the fondest memories, just like Halloween itself.
This book is perfect for younger children who may find comfort in its gentle message.
Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine
Ages 7 to 10
No list of Halloween books for children and teens would be complete without R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series. With over 200 spine-tingling tales to choose from, readers can dive into stories of haunted houses, sinister ventriloquist dummies, and shape-shifting monsters.
These books are a great stepping-stone for helping young readers get more comfortable handling longer books on their own.
The Witches by Roald Dahl
Ages 7 to 10
The legendary author Roald Dahl’s whimsical yet spine-tingling storytelling shines in this children’s novel. Follow the young protagonist as he stumbles upon a convention of witches with sinister plans.
Dahl’s captivating narrative will keep children and teens enthralled and maybe even a bit cautious around their elders.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Ages 7 to 11
For generations, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has been a staple in the realm of spooky literature. Alvin Schwartz masterfully weaves a tapestry of bone-chilling short stories that are made for young ones seeking a fright.
With haunting illustrations by Stephen Gammell, this anthology is the definition of a Halloween classic.
Though some are more lighthearted than others, beware that these stories often deal with themes of paranoia, grief and death, making them maybe a bit too scary for younger children, especially if they’re reading them alone.
The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
Ages 7 to 14
Ray Bradbury, the master of eerie atmosphere, gifted October 31st enthusiasts with The Halloween Tree. This timeless classic takes readers on a journey through time and space, exploring the origins of Halloween traditions.
It’s a captivating blend of history, fantasy, and thrilling adventure that will enchant both children and teens, and maybe even inspire an interest in historical studies.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Ages 8 and up
Neil Gaiman’s Coraline is a modern classic that transcends age boundaries. This eerie tale of a young girl discovering a parallel world behind a secret door offers a perfect blend of creepy and captivating storytelling.
With its unique blend of fantasy, horror, and thematic creativity, Coraline is a fantastic way to introduce kids to the wonderful world of literature. It’s no wonder that this book inspires many future English-majors.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Ages 8 to 12
Kelly Barnhill’s enchanting The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a spellbinding story that weaves magic, courage, and a touch of darkness into a mesmerizing narrative.
Follow Luna, a young girl with an extraordinary gift, as she confronts the secrets of her world. This beautifully written novel is a Halloween treat for middle-grade readers.
The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Ages 12 and up
Another contemporary entry is this 2019 young adult novel. The Bone Houses combines fantasy, horror, and adventure. It follows Ryn, a teenage gravedigger, and Ellis, a mapmaker, as they journey into a haunted forest filled with reanimated corpses.
This book explores themes of family, bravery, and the supernatural, reminding teens that the spirit of Halloween is for all ages.
The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox
Ages 13 and up
If your book-loving teen has already breezed through all the Halloween classics, consider a more recent story first published in 2018.
For teens who enjoy historical fiction with a touch of the supernatural, The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox is an excellent choice. Set in 1821, this novel tells the story of a family plagued by rumors of witchcraft and a sinister presence in their new home.
It’s a haunting and atmospheric read that captures the essence of Halloween.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Ages 15 and up
Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a young adult novel that reimagines the vampire genre.
Set in a world where vampires exist, Tana must navigate a dangerous vampire city called Coldtown after a deadly party. This book is a thrilling blend of horror, romance, and suspense, making it a must-read for older teens.