Best Halloween books for children
Witches and werewolves and vampires, oh my! Help your child get into the Halloween spirit with our round-up of the best ghost stories, haunted-house thrillers and supernatural tales for children. Not recommended for after-dark reading...
Ten Little Monsters by Mike Brownlow(Orchard Books, £6.99)
Ten little monsters set off in search of adventure and encounter plenty of ghosties and ghouls on their way. This lovely rhyming counting book offers all the fun of Halloween and trick or treating and none of the scare factor for younger readers.
The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde(Alma Classics, £6.99)
When the Otis family move into Canterville Chase they offer the resident ghost some lubricant for his rattling chains and clean up mysterious bloodstains with detergent... how will he continue to haunt the house? A classic, witty story from Oscar Wilde.
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Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones(Harper Collins Children's Books, £7.99)
An epic novel steeped in old magic and a gathering sense of foreboding. Nine years ago, at Halloween, Polly gatecrashed a funeral party and met Thomas Lynn for the first time. They had lots of adventures together – or did they? Why has Tom been erased from Polly’s mind, and from the rest of the world as well?
Coraline by Neil Gaiman(Bloomsbury, £6.99)
There's another house lurking inside Corlaine's new home. Another mother and father live in the other house; they have black-button eyes and papery skin and they're waiting for Coraline to join them forever... A sinister, spooky modern must-read from graphic-novel master Neil Gaiman.
Meg and Mog by Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski(Puffin, £5.99)
The very first story starring classic picture-book characters Meg the witch and Mog and cat. After choosing clothes from her witch wardrobe and enjoying a witch's breakfast, Meg flies off to meet her witch friends for some spell-making at a Halloween party, but the spell doesn't exactly go according to plan...
Daisy and the Trouble with Vampires by Kes Gray(Penguin, £5.99)
Daisy's not exactly keen on Halloween, or on Jack Beechwhistle's stories about zombie graveyards under the classroom, or on trick-or-treaters... Luckily she has a plan to defend herself against the supernatural. And things might go according to plan... To read Jack's side of Daisy's supernatural tall tales, try Jack Beechwhistle: Rise of the Hairy Horror!
Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud(Corgi, £7.99)
Psychic Investigations Agencies, a city stalked by spectres, a night in the most haunted house in England... there are spine-chilling moments a plenty in the first of the action-packed, thrilling and genuinely scary Lockwood & Co series for children aged 9+, but beware – it's not a read for the faint-hearted.
Spooky Winnie by Laura Owen(OUP, £4.99)
Muddled-up, magical mayhem from Winnie the witch and her cat Wilbur. Full of silly slapstick and sure to delight newly-confident independent readers aged 6 to 8, this new-look edition of four stories is complemented by Korky Paul's funny and wonderfully detailed illustrations.
The Witches by Roald Dahl
(Puffin, £6.99)They look ordinary. They behave like other women. But witches aren't ordinary at all. They have murderous, bloodthirsty thoughts and they hate children – and their leader, the Grand High Witch, is planning to make every child disappear forever... A deliciously terrifying and mesmerising book that every child should read (or have read to them while they hide under the covers!).
The Horror Handbook by Paul van Loon(Alma Books, £7.99)
Ghosts, zombies, monsters, vampires and witches and all other creatures that give us the creeps are covered in this "non-fiction" guide to the supernatural – very useful when you're looking for a good spot for some ghost-hunting. Illustrated by the wonderful Axel Scheffler.
The Demon Undertaker by Cameron McAllister(Corgi, £6.99)
A brilliant read for mystery lovers aged 9+, set in eighteenth-century London and featuring the teenage Bow Street Detectives. A kidnapper known as the Demon Undertaker is terrorising the streets on a horse-drawn hearse. Will young Thomas Fielding and his team manage to find him before he snatches his next victim? A real page-turner!
Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: The Spooky School by Tracey Corderoy(Nosy Crow, £5.99)
Picture adventures for early readers featuring robber-dogs-tunred-bakers Shifty McGinty and Slippery Sam. In this Halloween-themed adventure they're solving wacky mysteries and foiling dastardly plans.
The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy(Puffin, £5.99)
Before Harry Potter and Hogwarts there were Mildred Hubble and Miss Cackle's Academy for Witches in Jill Murphy's stories of a rather incompetent witch and her life at a magical boarding school. Perfect enchanted reading for children aged 5 to 9, this seven-book series chronicling Mildred's disastrous adventures is complemented by the author' s lovely black and white line drawings.
The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones(Harper Collins Children's Books, £5.99)
A ghost from the future tries to save the life of one of four sisters in the past in this atmospheric, unputdownable story of revenge which lingers in the mind long after the last page is read. Wonderfully creepy, this is one for older KS2 kids only.
Molly Maybe and the Ghost Train by Kristina Stephenson(Simon & Schuster, £6.99)
An amazing monster world mirrors ours, and the gutsy Molly Maybe is the only child who cam travel there (with her sidekick dog, Waggy Burns). In this adventure Molly investigates a terrible pong and finds it's the smell of fear in the Haunted Hollow. Luckily brave Molly knows there's nothing to be scared of...
Guaranteed to delight any pre-teen cook (and turn the stomach of any adult!), this book of repulsive recipes offers a huge selection of disgusting-looking (but tasty) dishes, from Squiggly Jelly Worms and Frogspawn to Human Brain Cake and Big Green Bogies Popcorn. The Bloody Intestines Dessert looks particularly gruesome and suitable for a Halloween get-together!
Stories of Wizards and Witches by Enid Blyton(£6.99, Hodder Children's Books)
A collection of 25 magical and mystical stories from Enid Blyton, bursting with wizards, witches, goblins, pixies, fairies, elves and spell-casting. A brilliant enchantment-filled compendium for newly confident readers. (Each story is stand-alone and the perfect length for reading at bedtime, so if your child enjoys the format and subject another similar story collection is Enid Blyton's Stories of Magic and Mischief.)
The Grotlyn by Benji Davies(£12.99, HarperCollins)
Atmospheric and beautiful, The Grotlyn builds suspense but won't scare young readers; we love the rhyming text, a lovely read-aloud treat for a dark autumn night. "I Know when the Grotlyn's been, slipping through your house unseen..."
Goth Girl and the Sinister Symphony by Chris Riddell(£6.99, Pan Macmillan)
Spooky and (obviously) Gothic but definitely funny rather than terrifying, the Goth Girl series from former Children's Laureate Chris Riddell is packed with tightrope-slipper-wearing heroines, psychic governesses and lords who are mad, bad and dangerous to gnomes. The elegant, intricately detailed illustrations are stunning and there's one on every page – the perfect words-and-pictures mix for KS2 readers. Sinister Symphony is the latest book in the series, but the first three (Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse, Goth Girl and the Fete Worse than Death, Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright) are just as packed with literary references for Gothic-loving grownups and wonderfully-plotted silliness for younger readers. Enchanting (in a ghoulish kind of way).
The Pongwiffy Stories by Kaye Umansky(£6.99, Simon & Schuster Children's)
Sludge, slime and very bad habits – Pongwiffy is the silliest, snottiest, smelliest witch there is! Children love stories of her feuds with the dim, damp and dirty Goblins and find her crazy antics endlessly entertaining. Warm and wonderful bedtime reading.
Join monster hunter Van Helsing on a trip around the globe to find haunted castles, restless spirits, terrifying dragons, wicked witches, and beasts. Continent by continent, you'll be equipped to spot (and defeat) each creature, having learnt about its defining characteristics. Can you tell your orcs and trolls from your gremlins, krakens and bunyips?
Travel round the world, one scary story at a time, with a child-friendly collection of chilling traditional tales from different cultures; meet the bunyip, explore a graveyard and come face to face with Baba Yaga on her house with chicken legs. Each story is the perfect length for cosy, curled-up bedtime reading and beautifully illustrated, well-known stories from European tradition are complemented by tales from the Inuit, West African, Australian, Persian and Tibetan worlds, amongst others.
Explore a strange house and peer into every dark, cobwebby nook and cranny in this pop-up book for dark and wintery nights. Does the house belong to an ogre? A witch? What spine-shivering surprises are lurking inside the cupboards and behind the doors? Young readers will pore over this spooky, thrilling read for hours to absorb every detail.