This year I’m building up my collection of book lists. Have you seen them yet?
As of this date I only have two holiday book lists, so I’m working to add a book list for each holiday. Even though our family doesn’t do a lot to celebrate Halloween, I wanted to share a list of gentle, family-friendly Halloween books for kids.
Pumpkin Trouble, by Jan Thomas
This is a silly book about a duck who tries to carve a jack-o-lantern but falls in the pumpkin. As he runs around with the pumpkin stuck to his head, his friends are terrified of the pumpkin monster. Duck doesn’t realize that he is the monster, and also runs around until he crashes into a barn wall and smashes the pumpkin. A quick, fun read!
Little Blue Truck’s Halloween, by Alice Schertle
This is a gentle book featuring Little Blue Truck and his animal friends. Toddlers and young preschoolers will enjoy identifying each costumed animal and lifting the flap. Since the book has simple, repetitive text, they’ll soon be able to read along.
Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley
My first grader thought this book was boring and babyish, but my Four loved it. On each page, another part of the green monster appears through die-cut pages. (“Big Green Monster has two big yellow eyes, a long bluish greenish nose,” etc.) The reader than tells the monster to go away, and each part of it disappears as we turn the pages toward the end of the book. “Go away, scraggly purple hair! Go away, two little squiggly ears!”
I found it interesting that some Amazon reviewers’ kids became afraid of monsters after reading this book. That wasn’t an issue for us at all.
The Hallo-Wiener, by Dav Pilkey
This is one of our favorites from this list! Poor Oscar is a little dachshund shaped very much lot a hot dog and is constantly teased by the other dogs. Things only get worse when Oscar sees the Halloween costume his mother lovingly made – a giant hot dog bun! But on Halloween night, Oscar does something extraordinary – and the other dogs change his nickname from “Wiener Dog” to “Hero Sandwich.” Highly recommended!
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, by Linda Williams
This book has been a Halloween favorite since it was first published over thirty years ago. A little old lady goes for a walk and is followed by two big shoes. But the fearless old woman isn’t frightened one bit. “Get out of my way, you two big shoes! I’m not afraid of you!” Eventually a pair of pants, shirt, gloves, hat, and scary pumpkin head join the chase. When the pumpkin head declares that they’ve come to scare her, the fearless old lady has a clever solution.
Ghosts in the House! by Kzuno Kohara
I don’t generally read books about ghosts to my kids, but this is a wonderful book. A girl moves into a house, only to discovered it is inhabited by (non-scary) ghosts. But no problem – the little girl is a witch, and she knows just what to do with ghosts. She captures all of them, puts them in the washing machine, and puts them to use around her house. Soon she has lovely white curtains, a tablecloth, and a soft blanket. I love the charming retro illustrations and the simple text.
Mrs. McMurphy’s Pumpkin, by Rick Walton
I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this book – is it clever, weird, or scary? My Four liked it, so I’ll include a review. Mrs. McMurphy lives by herself on a farm. One day a pumpkin with just a mouth appears in her living room. It promises to eat her when it gets its teeth. But Mrs. McMurphy is always patient and calm. “What a sweet-looking pumpkin, but pumpkins belong outside.” The pumpkin keeps coming back (even after she boxes it up and sends it to the North Pole!). By the end of the book, the pumpkin has eyes, a nose, ears, mouth, and teeth … it’s ready to eat Mrs. McMurphy, but she makes it into a pie. Odd story, but beautiful pictures!
Five Little Pumpkins, by Dan Yaccarino
There are so many versions of this rhyme that I could make a whole list of Five Little Pumpkins books! I chose to feature this one because I like Yaccarino’s illustrations. The book is short and sweet. It does include pictures of witches and ghosts, so avoid it if you don’t like books with those images.
Pete the Cat: Five Little Pumpkins, by James Dean
The classic five little pumpkins rhyme should definitely be part of your holiday reading, and Pete the Cat fans will enjoy this simple adaptation.
Eek! Halloween! by Sandra Boynton
If your young listeners enjoy Sandra Boynton’s adorable, engaging board books, you should definitely add this one to your collection. The poor chickens are nervous when they see unusual sights wherever they go – a flickering pumpkin, an elephant in a mouse costume, and more. Completely bewildered, they cry, “What’s going on here? What does it mean?” The other animals reply, “Relax, silly chickens – it’s Halloween!”
Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson
This book was an immediate hit with my kids, and even the older kids joined us on the couch. We love the funny story about a witch who keeps dropping things from her broom, and the helpful animals who return them. When a terrible dragon is ready to eat the witch, her animal friends come to her rescue. We especially love the delightful ending.
Click, Clack, Boo! by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
Grumpy Farmer Brown doesn’t like Halloween. But his fun-loving farm animals have a different idea! My personal feeling is that the Click, Clack, Moo series has been done to death. But if you’re a big fan, you should add this friendly Halloween tale to read-aloud list.
Little Boo, by Stephen Wunderli
Little Boo is a pumpkin seed who can’t seem to scare anyone, but the wind assures him that his day will come. As the little seed changes he can’t scare anyone as a seedling, a vine, or a flower. Of course, one day Little Boo becomes a big, frightening jack-o’-lantern. Such a creative way to teach about the pumpkin’s life cycle!
The Runaway Pumpkin, by Kevin Lewis
Three siblings climbing a hill in their Halloween costumes come upon a giant pumpkin. The brothers break it from the vine and it rolls down the hill, wreaking havoc wherever it goes. Finally it lands in a field and is made into soup, bread, and pie.
The Vanishing Pumpkin, by Tony Johnston
This is a fun, quirky story about a 700-year-old woman and an 800-year-old man. They’re hunting for their Halloween pumpkin to make pumpkin pie … but where can it be? On their search they find a host of interesting characters – a ghoul, rapscallion, varmint, and finally a 900-year-old wizard. Tomie DePaola’s illustrations bring the story to life.
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat! by Lucille Colandro
We’ve always enjoyed this fun series from Colandro. Each book is based on the familiar song, “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.” This particular one felt a little awkward at times, and wasn’t as funny as some others we’ve read – but my Four loved it.
The Biggest Pumpkin Ever, by Steven Kroll
Two little mice, a village and a field mouse, both have their hearts set on a beautiful pumpkin. During the day, the village mouse carefully tends the pumpkin – and at night, the field mouse does the same. One can’t wait to bring the pumpkin to the county fair, while the other wants to make it into a giant jack-o’-lantern. I love how the two mice become friends and find a solution that makes them both happy. A sweet book!
Skeleton Hiccups, by Margery Cuyler
If you don’t have a problem reading books about skeletons and ghosts to your kids, then I recommend this one. It’s a simple, funny book about a skeleton who just can’t get rid of his hiccups. And all the usual remedies just don’t work for skeletons!
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