One of the best parts of my job as an elementary librarian is designing the seasonal book displays, specifically when it’s time for HALLOWEEN READ ALOUDS! Reading aloud is my favorite pastime, and Halloween is my favorite time of year. I adore a good classic like The Little Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything or Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. However, I’ve been particularly pleased with some of the new titles coming out over the past few years. Authors and illustrators have been telling sweet stories with pleasing aesthetics, making books that even fear avoiders can enjoy!
My older students are always looking for scary books, but it’s a lot of fun to share the sweeter halloween read alouds with my younger students. Below, I’ve gathered a bunch of Halloween themed books to make your storytimes shine. I’ve grouped them by grade level, but I’ve discovered over the years that older children and even teens love a good read aloud. There is no growing out of hearing a good story. Whether you’re looking to scare or soothe the readers in front of you, hopefully you’ll find a story below to fit the bill!
Halloween Read Alouds for Kindergarten and First Grade
Ghost Afraid of the Dark by Sara Conway and Alex Willmore
The littlest readers will be thrilled with this story about a little ghost who realizes he’s afraid of quite a lot. Along with his monster buddies, Ghost learns to be brave, even in the dark! The board book format and glow in the dark cover add some extra spark to this pick.
Halloween Is Coming! by Cal Everett and Lenny Wen
This is a gentle, rhyming story about the build up to the big night of Halloween. Reviewers praise the cozy vibes and throw backs to the nostalgia of neighborhoood trick-or-treating. Read after reciting the Five Little Pumpkins poem for the ultimate kindergarten seasonal celebration.
Boo Stew by Donna L. Washington and Jeffrey Ebbeler
Take Goldilocks, add in Cajun influences, and shake it up with some spooky themes and BOOM! You’ve got Boo Stew. Excellent storytelling and rich, detailed illustrations both shine in this story about a talented young witch who uses kitchen mishaps to save the day!
Hardly Haunted by Jessie Sima
Poor House is very worried that she might be haunted. She has a lot of the signs: creaks and bangs and cobwebs! This will definitely stand in the way of her dream of having people live inside her. What will she do now? Sima is a pro at creating atmosphere with a lovely, muted color palette. Can your kiddos spot the cat on every page?
Halloween Read Alouds for Second and Third Grade
Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett and Christian Robinson
Leo is lonely in the big house all by himself, but everytime he tries to greet new inhabitants, he scares away his possible friends. When danger strikes, will Leo be able to prove his worth and save the day? Robinson’s illistrations are the standout star in this simple tale about a friendly ghost.
Sir Simon: Super Scarer by Cale Atkinson
Is anything cuter than this little ghost dude on the cover? The answer is No. Sir Simon is a professional scarer, super excited to be on his first assignment. But his efforts are stymied when a young human boy spots him and sees right through his scares! As Simon and the boy grow closer, it becomes clear that no matter what happens with this haunting, they will become friends!
Leila, the Perfect Witch by Flavia Z. Drago
Leila is a superb witch. She’s sure that the same prowess that won her awards for spells and flying will bring her success in the kitchen! However, after few attempts, Leila realizes that baking just isn’t her strength. Luckily, she has some super sisters who are happy to help out. A family story told against a delightfully creepy backgrounf, Leila the Perfect Witch is a charming mix of positive message and seasonal fun.
Halloween Read Alouds for Fourth and Fifth Grade
Creepy Crayon! by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown
This beloved series has delighted kids in my library for awhile now. I have children checking it out year round. Jasper Rabbit’s story begins with creepy carrots that are following him around, and later a creepy pair of underwear takes him on an adventure. In this third installment, a creepy crayon starts helping Jasper out by helping him with his school work. But when the crayon starts interfering in other areas of life, Jasper has to figure out how to get this crayon to leave him alone!
How to Make Friends with a Ghost by Rebecca Green
Nothing is sweeter than How To Make Friends With A Ghost. Formatted like a guidebook, Green does exactly what her title promises, providing the ins and outs of caring for your friendly ghost over time. I skew this slightly older only as a nod to the section that shares that the reader will grow older over time and eventually become a ghost, too. This is presented in a non-alarming way, and the illustrations could not be more darling.
She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein by Lynn Fulton and Felicita Sala
This is truly one of the scariest books I’ve read to students. Telling the story of Mary Shelley and the competition that led to her creating Frankenstein, She Made A Monster combines eerie narrative with otherwordly illustrations. I save this for my super tough fifth graders and never fail to illicit at least one gasp.
Looking for something more to get you in the Halloween spirit? Check out this list of literary Halloween costumes. Happy haunted reading!