Treating little monsters to spooky stories

Published on: 05 October 2015 Author: Kate Hancock

Bookstart mum and children's publishing expert, Kate Hancock, blogs about great books to share with children at Halloween...

Summer is over, the nights are getting longer and children (and adults!) everywhere are looking ahead to celebrating Halloween.

It's an opportunity for dressing up, making decorations, going to parties and trick or treating, but the cold, dark evenings can also be a brilliant chance to snuggle up with loved ones and share some spooky stories and books.

Sharing books about monsters, witches or ghosts can be great fun for everyone. Whatever age the children in your life are (and however spooked and excited they like to be) there are some really brilliant books that suit Halloween celebrations perfectly.

Here are just a few of the books I love to read at this time of year.

Toddlers and preschoolers

There are fantastic spooky picture books available for young children; have fun guessing what will happen next, making each other jump and using funny voices.

Room on the Broom

(Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler)

A real modern classic which features not only a witch, lots of animals and a dragon, but has a great message about sharing and working together.

Room on the Broom

Author: Julia Donaldson Illustrator: Axel Scheffler

From former Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson and longtime collaborator Axel Scheffler comes this much-loved tale about a witch and her gang of friends.

Read more about Room on the Broom

Monsters Love Underpants

(Claire Freedman & Ben Cort):

If your child prefers monsters to witches then this is a great title to try with lots of monsters... and pants too!

Monsters Love Underpants

Author: Claire Freedman

Monsters around the world have different ways to scare, but they all share a love for zany underpants! Every Saturday night, you will find them in a secret cave, showing off their pants as they dance the Monster Bop--but they have to make it home before the sun comes up. After all, who would be scared of monsters in pants that were stripped and dotted?

Read more about Monsters Love Underpants

The Dark

(Lemony Snicket & Jon Klassen):

Most small children have fears at some point and this beautiful book is great for helping to address them with gorgeous illustrations and a message that sometimes the things we find most frightening aren't so bad.

The Dark

Author: Lemony Snicket Illustrator: Jon Klassen

One night, the night-light goes out, and the dark calls Laszlo down into the basement to meet it.

Read more about The Dark

Young children

The following are great for children learning to read, or already reading on their own, as well as being lots of fun to share, perhaps as a bedtime story.

Horrid Henry's Haunted House

(Francesca Simon):

Perfect for building confidence with reading and very funny as well, Horrid Henry will delight children.

Horrid Henry’s Haunted House

Author: Francesca Simon Illustrator: Tony Ross

Horrid Henry can't believe his mean, horrible parents are forcing him to stay overnight at his slimy cousin Stuck-up Steve's house. And to make matters worse, Steve's house is HAUNTED. Or is it?

Read more about Horrid Henry’s Haunted House

The Worst Witch

(Jill Murphy):

One of my childhood favourites, which follows the hapless Mildred Hubble as she attends Miss Cackles Academy for Witches.

The Worst Witch

Author: Jill Murphy

Long before Harry Potter first went to Hogwarts, trainee witch Mildred Hubble embarked on life at Miss Cackle's Academy for Witches...

Read more about The Worst Witch

The Secret of Platform 13

(Eva Ibbotson):

A brilliant story from a truly wonderful writer, this is an exciting, magical adventure the whole family can enjoy.

The Secret of Platform 13

Author: Eva Ibbotson

Under Platform 13 at Kings Cross Station is hidden a quite remarkable secret. Every nine years a doorway opens to an amazing, fantastical island.

Read more about The Secret of Platform 13

Older children

Share your own childhood favourites and explore some of the fantastic newer books available or challenge each other to see who can find (or tell!) the scariest story.

The Witches

(Roald Dahl):

Great fun and just scary enough for everyone to enjoy; the descriptions of how to spot a witch are truly fantastic... and useful.

The Witches

Author: Roald Dahl Illustrator: Quentin Blake

Real witches disguise themselves as lovely ladies, when secretly they want to squish and squelch all the wretched children they despise.

Read more about The Witches

Goth Girl

(Chris Riddell):

A series of brilliant stories and gorgeous illustrations from the current Children's Laureate.

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse

Author: Chris Riddell

Fans of Chris Riddell's Ottoline books will love this quirky story about young heroine Ada Goth.

Read more about Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse

The Screaming Staircase

(Jonathan Stroud):

First in the gripping and spine-tingling series about teenage ghost hunters Lockwood & Co. Great for anyone who loves being seriously spooked!

Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase

Author: Jonathan Stroud

Best known for his sarcastic djinni creation Bartimaeus, Stroud returns with an equally engaging new series, this time following a young set of ghost hunters

Read more about Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase

More Halloween Picture Books


These picture books featuring witches, wizards and monsters are perfect to share with little ones at Halloween.

The horror, the horror


Quench your bloodthirst and get your teeth into these books for older children this Halloween.