Time to haul out the box of Halloween books! This year, I have a plan to do a nightly read of spooky stories for the two weeks leading up to the Big Night. (I got the idea from here, for a Christmas advent calendar.) I’ll wrap the books and put them in a basket and make book time a surprise to look forward to. I’ve got a collection of obviously Halloween-related books in a cupboard in the basement, but I felt like the collection was getting a bit stale. I’ve been on the lookout for some new additions to our October reading list. Here is what I’ve come up with, and a few old favourites. Please leave your favourite titles in the comments section. I’m still looking for more!
Some of these are a little off the beaten path. You might not think they were Halloween reads to look at them. But they are spooky and, most importantly, excellently written and illustrated.
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson. Illustrated by Axel Scheffler. (ages 2-5)
Ours is a well-worn board book, and it gets pulled out often. You can’t go wrong with Julia Donaldson, and this is a fun story about a witch, her familiars and a deluxe broom.
The Widow’s Broom by Chris Van Allsburg (ages 4-8)
Oh, I do love a story with a woman who outsmarts a puritanical community. A widow helps an ailing witch and inherits her magical broom. Persecution ensues. Reason triumphs. Beautifully illustrated.
The Night of the Gargoyles by Eve Bunting. Illustrated by David Wiesner. (ages 4-8)
The gargoyles on a building come to life in a beautifully paced prose poem. The tone of the story is truly haunting. David Wiesner is a favourite illustrator of ours, and he does not fail to please in this gem.
Philip Pullman’s Clockwork (ages 8-12)
This is a fascinating story within a story. It actually makes my head hurt to work out how the gears of the stories interlock. A story about clocks that is structured like a clock, messes with your head and with time. Great fun.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (ages 8-12)
I love Neil Gaiman’s child protagonists. They are all so grounded and whip smart. Nobody Owens is the protagonist in this book, and he is raised by ghosts and lives in a cemetery. His antagonist is a man named Jack, and the story plays with and subverts the traditional character of Jack from British fairy tales. Creepy, genuinely frightening, un-put-down-able.