Children's Librarians' Favorite Halloween Books

By Lynn Ann Lobash, Associate Director, Readers Services and Engagement
October 28, 2014
Ten Orange Pumpkins cover

Ten Orange Pumpkins: A Counting Book by Stephen Savage
In this Halloween countdown book, ten orange pumpkins are each carried off by a witch, a ghost, a spider, and other Halloween creatures until there's just one.

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown
Carrots are orange just like pumpkins, but they never seemed especially creepy to me, until now...

Frankenstein by Ludworst Bemonster
A Madeline-parody with little monsters in two straight lines.

The Perfect Pumpkin Hunt by Gail Herman
Disney Fairy Prilla needs to find the perfect pumpkin in time for the Fall Ball.

—Jenny Baum, Jefferson Market

A Big Spooky House Cover

The Tailypo by Joanna Galdone, illustrated by Paul Galdone
For slightly older kids who love creepy.  An old man cuts the tail off a mysterious creature and eats it for supper! But now that critter is coming back for his tail... A spine-tingler with a dark ending that's just enough thrill for grade school audiences.

A Big Spooky House by Donna Washington, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers
A man who thinks nothing can scare him decides to spend a night in a haunted house, but he starts to rethink his stay when each hour on the clock brings something bigger and scarier into his room!  While a bit scary, this longer tale can be played for laughs and lead to discussion about the ambiguous ending.

The King of the Cats by Paul Galdone
A great atmospheric read-aloud that can work for a variety of audiences.  A gravedigger recounts the mysterious things he sees in the graveyard one night to his wife and their cat, Old Tom.  A purrr-fect ghost story for a dark night!

Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep  and The Headless Horseman Rides Tonight by Jack Prelutsky
Looking for creepy poems that are sure keep you up late with the lights on?  These are some of the best for sharing with 3-5th grade audiences. But watch out, something may be waiting to get you!

Because they all about monsters and some of them are also about food cover

If you like Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich: And Other Stories You Are Sure to Like, Because They're All About Monsters, and Some of Them Are Also About Food by Adam Rex. Sometimes you just need a monstrously good laugh, and this is a great collection of funny poetry and silly monsters to make all your little ghouls and goblins howl with laughter.  From the struggles of Frankenstein to get some lunch, to the travails of the Phantom of the Opera getting annoying songs stuck in his head, this is a sure-fire hit for Halloween humor.

Frank was a Monster who Wanted to Dance by Keith Graves
A silly picture book about one monster's love of fancy footwork, and his difficulties with getting the regular public to appreciate it.

The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt illustrated by Tony DiTerlezzi
This classic warning poem about the naive fly venturing into the ravenous and tricky spider's clutches is brought to life by the the marvelous anthropomorphized art!  Be warned, there's no happy ending for the fly here!

—Stephanie Whelan, Seward Park Library

Ghosts in the House

Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler
This skeleton had the hiccups! With his friend ghost, they try many tricks to rid the dreaded hiccups.

Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara
This witch has ghosts in her house and turns these pests into something useful.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Keep the lights on as you read tales from "The Hook" to "The Slithery-Dee".... BOO!

—Anna Taylor, ​Children’s Programming

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

My favorite is The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams. An interactive story about a brave woman who encounters some really scary things in the woods. So fun to read and the surprise ending is great!

Amy Schaub, Tottenville Library

Pumpkin Eyeby Denise Fleming
This short story sets the mood for Halloween. It starts out "Yellow Moon, Rising Soon" and goes on to describes different sounds and sight associated with Halloween. Just great for getting the children excited about Halloween.

I also like Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley. Perfect for Halloween story-time with the three year-olds. In this story the pages are actually cut into the shape of a monster and as the pages are turned the children first create the monster and then say good bye to pieces of the monster until the monster is gone entirely. Great story to reassure young children that although monsters give the shivers, it is all just good fun on Halloween.

—Rana Smith, Woodlawn Heights Branch

Over the Hollow Cover

Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman 
A witch wants to make a pumpkin pie for Halloween but can't pull the pumpkin off the vine. DRAT!  What about her friends who want to eat the pie, can they help?  See what a little cooperation does.

Over In the Hollow by Rebecca Dickinson
Like Over in the Meadow, an Appalachian folk song, this rhyming counting book features ghosts, skeletons and vampires as well as other Halloween characters.

—Peggy Salwen, St. Agnes Library

One Witch by Laura Leuck
A rhyming book about a witch who invites all her ghastly friends to a party, in her invitations she requests the ingredients for her witch's brew. "(Everybody loved it too!) They saved the last bowl just for...YOU!"

Just a Minute cover

—Clarissa Cooke, 96th Street Library

Just a Minute: a Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales

This is not a traditional Halloween story, but it does feature Senor Calavera (Skeleton). It is more of a Dia de los Muertos title. Yuyi also illustrated a book by Marisa Montes which is great: Los Gatos Black on Halloween.

—Louise Lareau, Children's Center at the 42nd Street Library


I recommend Dav Pilkey's hilarious and charming The Hallo-wiener. It's the story of Oscar the dachshund, who dresses up as a hot dog for Halloween, endures teasing from his doggy pals, and saves the day! —Susan Tucker Heimbach, Mulberry Street Library


The Monsters' Monster

Two favorites of mine are:Hoodwinked by Arthur Howard:  A charming and humorous story about a little witch who goes in search of a truly "creepy" pet, and ultimately learns that looks aren't everything!

The Monsters' Monster by Patrick McDonnell:  Three naughty monsters work together to create the "baddest" monster ever, but end up rethinking what it really means to be a monster when they finally get to know their new creation. —Rebecca Schosha, Jefferson Market