8 Spooky Children’s Picture Books for Halloween (Or Anytime)

We’ve read a ton of spooky books because everyone in our family loves them. For this post I’ve narrowed it down to the best: those I’d recommend that even adults read for entertainment, and that Boy Detective came back to again and again. (Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links.)

Ghosts for Breakfast (2002) by Stanley Todd Terasaki and illustraded by Shelly Shinjo

When the “troublesome triplet” neighbors show up to report seeing ghosts in the fields, a boy accompanies his father to find out what’s really going on. Very spooky! But ends with a good laugh. Set in the 1920s in a Japanese-American farming community, which I liked because it added diversity to our reading experience.

Little Vampires (2008) by Rebecca Hicks

I had the pleasure of meeting Hicks at a conference and buying the book from her in person, so our copy is signed and has a little sketch in the front. Boy Detective had memorized this entire book as a pre-reader, even though a couple of the jokes were over his head since they rely on the extensive vampire mythos (and on knowing what a “blood orange” is.) Simple and funny, and the perfect size for a stocking stuffer if you’re a Halloween 365 kind of family like we are. Your library probably won’t have this, but with shipping it’s just $13 and it’s a perfect stocking stuffer.

What, you don’t have Halloween stockings?

Always Listen to Your Mother (2010) by Florence Parry Heide and Roxanne Heide Pierce, illustrated by Kyle M. Stone

Ernest is a very good little boy who always listens to his mother. Vlapid is a very good little boy who always listens to his mother. When Vlapid moves into the house next to Ernest, things get way more interesting for Ernest! My six year old was slightly freaked out about the boys’ antics, expecting they would get in trouble, but at the end he got the joke and laughed for quite a while.

Black and Bittern Was Night (2013) by Robert Heidbreder, illustrated by John Martz

Boy Detective wasn’t sure what to make of this book at first. He loved the art and all the little details of the big crowd scenes. Army of skeletons versus kids in costume, what’s not to love? But what was Mom saying as she read it out loud? For example: “Windows were shuttered, tight-pulled all drape folds. Brain-frizzed tall-big ones latch-click-locked doorholds.” It’s like some wild Halloween variant of English. I found it absolutely delightful. Boy Detective caught on and treated it kind of like a code to decipher after I read it to him the first time. This book might not be for everyone, but if you and your kid enjoy creative language, check it out!

The Witch Who Was Afraid of Witches (1978) by Alice Low, illustrated by Karen Gundersheimer

This is the 1978 edition, NOT the “I Can Read” version that came out later with different art and “adapted” text. Wendy is the youngest witch sister in her family, subject to disdain from her older sisters since she can’t yet do any witch stuff. One Halloween night, though, she makes a friend and finally finds the right broom for her. Fun ensues, as does a little tiny bit of payback on her sisters, and when it’s all done Wendy has earned her self-confidence as a witch. Well worth tracking down the original version of this book if you can find it.

And here are the books I’ve read on my own since my kiddo got too old for them; they’re all fantastic! I haven’t had a chance to write reviews or pull the covers yet, but click on through and see if one of them might be perfect for you.

And that’s the list!