Halloween isn’t just about costumes, trick-or-treating or horror movies. There are bookshelves full of spooky stories, twisted tales and fearsome fables to set the mood — often in ways more captivating and eerie than movies.
Shauna Mundinger, the children’s associate librarian at Orem Public Library, said Halloween is a good opportunity to make reading fun for kids and suggested donning a witch’s hat or turning off all the lights and reading with a flashlight. She said reading with children is vital for giving them a connection to reading and a connection to the parent.
“It’s something that parents can take 15 to 20 minutes a day and … you can’t even measure the rewards really because the impact of reading to a child lasts a child’s life,” Mundinger said. “It’s not too late. If you haven’t begun, begin today.”
Readers on the hunt for festive tales can always look for their favorite fictional character, like Fancy Nancy or Curious George, for Halloween-themed books.
For second- and third-graders, there are mystery series like “Nancy Clancy,” “A to Z Mysteries,” “Boxcar Children,” or “Nate the Great.” Fourth- through sixth-graders could look into “Fairy Tale Detectives,” “Nancy Drew,” “Genius Files,” “Brixton Brothers” or “Red Blazer Girls.”
Even though it was hard to choose favorites, the staff at Orem Public Library collaborated to help with this list of all Hallows reads to get you in the mood for Oct. 31.
Books for tots and young children
These are all excellent read-aloud books that Mundinger said really “lend yourself to putting your arm around the child and having a great story.”
“Go Away, Big Green Monster!” by Ed Emberley is perfect for children in preschool through first grade who love to help tell stories. It’s a die-cut book that lets little readers build and then take apart a monster.
“What Was I Scared of?: A Glow-in-the-Dark Encounter” is a little-known tale of Dr. Seuss’ about a pair of green pants that chase a man around.
“Piggie Pie!” by Margie Palatini and Howard Fine is hilarious. Kids love this funny story, and when Mundinger read it aloud once, she had third-graders “howling” at the story.
Additional titles: the beloved “Room on the Broom,” by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler; “The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything,” by Linda D. Williams and Megan Lloyd; and the classic “My Monster Mama Loves Me,” by Laura Leuck and Mark Buehner.
Books for ages 10 and up
Some of these are pretty scary and could be too intense or suspenseful for younger kiddos. After reading the obvious “Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark,” by Alvin Schwartz, check out these titles from the library.
“Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story,” by Mary Downing Hahn, is an absolute classic, perfect for young girls who are reluctant readers. When Mundinger read the first part of it to sixth graders when it came out in the ‘80s, she couldn’t keep the book on the shelf.
“The Night Gardener,” by Jonathan Auxier, is a tough one to put down and is one of the best-written stories the library staff has read in a long time. The excellent dialogue makes this recent release a good book to read aloud.
“Breathe: A Ghost Story,” by Cliff McNish, is a riveting, paranormal activity story that was selected as one of 160 ‘books for boys’ recommended by the Department of Education and Skills.
Additional titles: “The Best Halloween Ever,” by Barbara Robinson, a funny story also great for 8- and 9-year-olds; Newbery Medal–winning “The Graveyard Book,” by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, which starts with a murder and is “really, really creepy.”
Head to the bookstore for some truly frightening tales that both teens and adults alike will enjoy.
“The Last Apprentice (Revenge of the Witch),” by Joseph Delaney and Patrick Arrasmith, is the last of a well-written series that’s “scarrrry,” according to a library staff member.
“The House of Dead Maids,” by Clare B. Dunkle and Patrick Arrasmith, is part of another good series that isn’t quite as scary, but will still spook you. Marilee Clark, a librarian at Orem Public Library, called this “Wuthering Heights” prequel a “clever and creepy classic.”
“Unwind,” by Neal Shusterman, is about the horror that can come from an entire culture going wrong. Clark wrote that the book has “seriously, one of the creepiest scenes I have read in any book, ever.”
“Through the Woods” by Emily Carroll is a creepy, graphic novel — a genre that has exploded recently, especially for reluctant readers.