Halloween books for children and teens
Children’s, young adult and teen books about Halloween, trick or treating, ghosts, strange and unexplained events, and dark spooky nights. This list contains 80 titles to read on dark nights, for children to read aloud and scare their friends, and for teachers to read to make whole classes quiver and shiver. There’s a range of fiction, nonfiction, true stories, picture books, poetry, short story collections, chapter books and novels for primary and secondary-aged children. This list features books by Oliver Jeffers, Julia Donaldson, Eric Carle, Harriet Muncaster, Roald Dahl, Susan Hill, Neil Gaiman, Rainbow Rowell, R.L Stine, Padraig Kenny, Anthony Horowitz, Lisa Richardson and Rob Biddulph.
Books to read at Halloween time for children and teens – our recommendations
Halloween-themed and spooky picture books for younger children
I Say Boo You Say Hoo by John Kane
A wonderfully fun picture book for younger children that is ideal for reading together. With bright colours and clever typography, this story uses a call-and-respond approach to help the reader tell the story. There are lots of ‘oo’ sounds, including boo, hoo, and of course, ‘stinky poo’, which children will find hilarious. This may well be a book you read every day for a long time!
We Planted a Pumpkin by Rob Ramsden
Part of a trilogy of picture books including I Saw a Bee and We Found a Seed, this story follows the life of a pumpkin from seed to harvesting for Halloween. The illustrations are vibrant and inclusive and this book is ideal for inspiring Halloween-themed wall displays.
Five Little Ghosts: A lift-the-flap Halloween picture book by Lily Murray and Holly Surplice
Five little ghosts have floated away. Can you find out where they are hiding and help them float back to Mama Ghost? Big bold glossy pages with flaps big and small make this a charming picture book to read and share with 2-6 year olds. It’s ideal to help develop fine motor, counting, and observational skills, as well as putting a positive and reassuring spin on a subject that might spook the youngest readers. Come Halloween time preschoolers will be looking for smiling friendly ghostlings in every unlikely nook and cranny!
There’s a Ghost in the House by Oliver Jeffers
This wonderfully evocative and interactive picture book is ideal for storytelling on a dark, wet, Autumn afternoon – especially, perhaps, at Halloween. Explore the haunted house with the little girl who lives there. Help her to find a ghost amongst the beautifully illustrated pages. On every page, children will find awe and wonder. It’s a great book to read as a family.
GOTCHA! by Clotilde Perrin
Fleeing a ‘nasty hairball monster, a child hides in a series of fairytale houses. The intrepid reader can try to find them in the most unlikely places by lifting flaps, opening doors and peering carefully into each intricately illustrated cutaway. This oversized hardback is exquisitely presented in full colour with heavy stock card pages. With infectious language – ‘feculent’, ‘pestilential’, ‘collywobblers’ and a clever ending, GOTCHA! is an astonishingly good book. Children aged 5-8 will love it.
The Tindims of Rubbish Island and the Spooky Secret by Sally Gardner, illustrated by Lydia Corry
When a young witch shrinks herself in a spell gone wrong, she and her best ghost friend find themselves on Rubbish Island. But witches and ghosts are a mystery to the Tindims, who don’t even know what Halloween is. But as they find out about it, they help their new friends find their way home in this fast-paced, dialogue-driven, dyslexic-friendly short chapter book. With fun illustrations on nearly every page, this is a page-turning and lightly spooky introduction to recycling themes for children in KS1 and less confident readers in lower KS2.
Halloween and ghost story themed chapter books for 7-11 year olds
Ghost Scouts: Mayhem at Camp Croak! by Taylor Dolan
Lexie Wild and her friends join forces with a rival camp when dangerous whispering snakes threaten to cause misery. Can they put aside their differences to defeat this common enemy? With pillow fights, scary campfire storytelling and a race against time, this is an exciting read. The fourth in this series of brightly illustrated, fun and inclusive ghost stories, Mayhem at Camp Croak! is an ideal pacey first chapter book mystery adventure for children aged 6-9.
The Ghost of Gosswater by Lucy Strange
A beautifully written and evocative mystery adventure set in the Lake District in 1889. When 12-year-old Agatha is seemingly robbed of her inheritance by a nasty cousin, she’s determined to find the truth – and she finds help from a strange and spectral source on the chime of midnight. With lots of atmosphere in short and fast-moving chapters, this is a spooky class reader UKS2.
No Place For Monsters by Kory Merritt
When the children of suburban Cowslip Grove begin to disappear, Levi and Kat are the only people who remember them. And they are determined to find out why in this totally engrossing, and deliciously creepy mystery with a pervasive and lingering sensation of nearby evil. The trials and tribulations of middle-grade relationships, clashes with authority, and of course, saving the world, propel this engrossing and quirky read. The dialogue-driven story and the part graphic novel combination will be a real winner with less enthusiastic readers. We dare you to read it around a dimly lit library this October.
Shiver Point: It Came From the Woods by Gabriel Dylan
When Alex sees a meteorite streaking towards Howlmoor Forest he imagines finding it and fame and fortune. But not only do four other kids get there before him, but what they find is the stuff of nightmares. Crisply written with short cliffhanger chapters, up-to-the-minute cultural references and relatable characters, Shiver Point is bound to be a hit with KS2 children. Think Stranger Things meets The Goonies with super creepy killer slugs. Shiver Point is the ultimate chiller thriller series for 9-year-olds.
The Violet Veil Mysteries by Sophie Cleverly
Violet is forced into a world of intrigue and ghostly goings-on when her father is arrested for crimes he did not commit in this first instalment of a new series. Violet, who lives in the world of undertakers Veil & Son’s, is determined to follow in her father’s footsteps and one day lead the family business. This story is suited for upper KS2 mystery enthusiasts, with a fast-paced narrative, brief chapters, and a strong female lead.
Ivy Newt and the Time Thief by Derek Keilty and Magda Brol
When a strange house materialises over the bay, Ivy Newt is determined to uncover its secrets and break the spooky curse. But there’s a race against time because the house will soon vanish at midnight! Fun and atmospheric illustrations by Magda Brol add to a lively mystery plot and Ivy Newt is an ideal fantasy series to get less confident readers hooked on short chapter books.
Halloween-related fiction and ghost stories for young adults and teens
Curse Breaker by Simon Tudhope, illustrated by Tom Knight
You find yourself alone and scared in a prison cell, locked up for something you didn’t do. In this book, you are the story, and you decide your fate! With interactive gameplay, a game log, and combat at the roll of a dice (or a nifty QR code online roller), Curse Breaker is creepily irresistible. 10-14-year-old readers will lose themselves in the dark mysteries of Mirewick for at least a weekend in the monster-filled tight prose, clever characterisation and mysterious pictures containing hidden clues.
Stone by Finbar Hawkins
Overwhelmed by grief from losing his father in Afghanistan, Sam stumbles upon a stone with strange and supernatural properties on a hillside that holds special memories for him and a special place in local history. He is thrust into a beautifully realised and mysterious world of legends and bravery where relationships are tested. The second, and standalone, novel by the multiple award-nominated and bestselling author Finbar Hawkins does not disappoint. Stone is a compelling study of grief, thought and family, suitable for KS3 and KS4 book clubs and fans of Norse myths and Halloween.
Rayleigh Mann in the Company of Monsters by Ciannon Smart
When Rayleigh goes out trick or treating, never could he have imagined he’d meet a monster from his nana’s stories and find out the father he’d never met is in fact the Bogey Mann! But Bogey Mann is missing, and only Rayleigh can find him. Will he survive the scary Below-London world of nightmarish adventures and save his father? This immersive and funny monster rollercoaster fantasy adventure will appeal to readers in Y6, Y7 and Y8.
The Hideaway by Pam Smy
When Billy runs away, he finds himself hiding in a neglected graveyard. There he meets an old man patiently waiting for a supernatural event on All Soul’s Eve. Told in alternating chapters through the wide eyes of Billy, and his worried mother’s point of view, The Hideaway offers teachers in years 7&8 plenty of ideas for character studies, perspective and hot seating. Spectacular, atmospheric and moving, this novel is an excellent choice for KS3 discussion and an easier read for KS4 fans of A Monster Calls and Stranger Things.
Tales of the Damned: A Collection of Classic Horror Stories by Matt Ralphs, illustrated by Taylor Dolan
Matt Ralphs retells eight classic gothic narratives and unsettling fables in this beautifully illustrated chunky hardback. The Masque of the Red Death, Dracula, The Monkey’s Paw, Red Riding Hood, Frankenstein, Vasilisa the Daughter, Whistle and I’ll Come to You and Bluebeard are presented as accessible and atmospheric short stories. A spooktacular gift book, Tales of the Damned is perfect for 10-13 year olds who like to be immersed in darkly chilling thrills and classic twisty tales.
Disney Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas by Megan Shepherd
Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, is bored with year after year of scaring people. So when he discovers a door to Christmas Town, he hatches a plan to take over the holiday and have the citizens of Haloween Town run Christmas themselves. Will his dreams come true, or will Christmas become a nightmare? Based on the Disney musical, this novelisation is a darkly atmospheric, accessible and bewitching read that will transfix KS3 readers.
Channel Fear by Lisa Richardson
When a couple of YouTube ghost hunter influencers vanish into thin air, Iris and her friends are determined to find them. The toxic threesome finds the final filming spot and it reveals terrifying footage. Chilling, well-paced and convincing, it’s a viral ‘Blair Witch’ for teens precariously spanning the zoomer and alpha generations. We think Channel Fear will be a hit with socially aware and internet-savvy KS4 students.
The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers And Other Gruesome Tales by Jen Campbell
This weighty hardback collection of dark fairy tales reimagines traditional stories with spooky modern twists. Featuring striking illustrations by Adam de Souza, it will appeal to early secondary school readers who enjoy thrilling, unexpected and thought-provoking narratives. It’s ideal for book club discussions and creative projects at Halloween time. Read our full review.
Halloween related true stories and non fiction
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Halloween resources for teachers
- BBC Teach offers a video to use in primary assemblies, explaining the origins of Halloween and how we celebrate it today. There’s a set of free teacher’s notes to accompany the video.
- Cambridge University Press has published a page full of free educational activities based on Halloween, including spooky flash cards and speaking and listening worksheets.
- Oxford University Press has a useful activity pack that features Scary Collocations, Ghoulish Word Forms, Frightful Idioms and a Shadowy Web Quest.
- STEM learning has lots of Halloween-related ideas to download, including ‘Pumpkins Against Poverty’, Halloween symmetry, bones of the body bingo and spooky space.
- The New York Times has a set of ‘haunting ideas’ for educators, which include how to tell ‘terrifying tales’, Halloween costume conduct (good for KS3 and KS4 PSHE), zombie poetry, and – perfect for homework (!) how to ‘scare yourself at home’.
- The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation offers a downloadable article explaining how to decorate pumpkins, with lots of extension ideas and links.
- English Heritage lists Halloween family events taking place over the autumn half-term for locations all around the UK. These include spooky woodland walks, Halloween crafts and cooking activities, creepy castles and ghost tales.