Eight picture books for a scare-free Halloween

Published on: 18 October 2022

Got little ones who don't like ghosts and ghouls? These are the perfect picture books to help them enjoy Halloween without any of the scares.

Illustration: Jannie HoIllustration from Halloween ABC by Jannie Ho

Halloween can be brilliant fun for little ones, with trick or treating, cool costumes, and best of all – sharing stories about ghosts and ghouls! But for smaller children, sometimes all the spooky tales can get a bit scary.

For young readers who are more into silly skeletons and friendly ghosts than things that go bump in the night, here’s our pick of the best gentle picture books for Halloween.

Halloween ABC by Jannie Ho (pictured above)

A is for apple-bobbing, B is for bats… there’s so many Halloween words to learn in this chunky board book from Jannie Ho, with bright cheery characters and lots of inventive alphabet fun! There’s never been a spookier way for little ones to learn their letters.

We’re Going on a Pumpkin Hunt by Goldie Hawk and Angie Rozelaar

Illustration: Angie RozelaarIllustration: Angie Rozelaar

This super-cute pumpkin-hunting adventure sees three sweet characters dressed as their favourite Halloween ghouls setting off on a quest to find a big pumpkin! With simple poetic text borrowed from the theme of Michael Rosen’s ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, and bright, blocky illustrations on sturdy pages, we follow our little heroes as they encounter ‘watchful, green-eyed cats’, sticky cobwebs, and even a new friend hiding on their journey.

Four Silly Skeletons by Mark Sperring and Sue Hendra

Illustration: Sue HendraIllustration: Sue Hendra

Fred, Sid, Belle and Bill are four VERY silly skeletons… no matter what they do together, something always goes a bit wrong!

One night, as the four silly skeletons are getting ready for bed, they hear the sound of music drifting through the air – and simply HAVE to have a boogie in the moonlight. When their dancing ends in – yep – another catastrophe, it’s up to their dear Auntie June (in a VERY fetching flowery hat!) to help them sort it out…

Read our review of Four Silly Skeletons

Cat Learns to Listen at Moonlight School by Simon Puttock and Ali Pye

Illustration: Ali PyeIllustration: Ali Pye

Have you met Miss Moon? She runs the Moonlight School, where all the wee creatures of the night go to learn. But while the other students are exploring the forest and discovering starry leaves and swirly snails, Cat is off in her own world of dreaming and doodling – and completely forgetting to listen to the teacher! When Cat wanders off, it’s up to her friends to find her again.

All the books in this lovely series have a free Stories Aloud smartphone audio book, too – meaning you can scan the QR code in the front cover and listen to the story being read to you.

Gustavo the Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago

Illustration: Flavia Z. DragoIllustration: Flavia Z. Drago

Gustavo the Shy Ghost is no ordinary ghost story – for one thing, there’s not a dark and shadowy corner in sight! Filled with bright colours and gorgeous artwork, this tells the tale of a little ghost who’s very good at doing magical things like walking through walls, making objects fly, and playing beautiful music on his violin. But poor Gustavo is more scared of everyone else than they are of him – and all he wants is a friend! One day, he plucks up his courage and invites the monsters in the neighbourhood to a very special party. Can he overcome his shyness?

The Little Ghost Who Was A Quilt by Riel Nason and Byron Eggenschwiler

Illustration: Byron EggenschwilerIllustration: Byron Eggenschwiler

When you think of a ghost, what do you picture? Probably a white sheet with eye holes floating about… but the little ghost in this story is a quilt instead, and when he tries to fly like the other ghosts he ends up getting hot and bothered!

But not all ghosts need to look the same… and in fact, as it turns out, there are some really rather fun things about being a quilt. This beautifully illustrated picture book puts a fun and ghostly spin on the importance of being yourself.

Mona the Vampire by Sonia Holleyman

Illustration: Sonia HolleymanIllustration: Sonia Holleyman

By now a picture book classic, Mona the Vampire is the story of a little girl who is OBSESSED with spooky tales – so much so that she starts wearing a cape, ties bat wings to her cat, Fang, and decides to live vampire-style! But her batwing soup and special vampire tricks don’t exactly impress her teachers… maybe being a vampire isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?

Mona the Vampire perfectly illustrates what it’s like when children get full-on obsessed with something, whether it’s vampires, space invaders, dinosaurs or trucks… and there are loads of brilliant visual gags for grown-ups to enjoy, too.

How to Make Friends With a Ghost by Rebecca Green

Illustration: Rebecca GreenIllustration: Rebecca Green

If you’ve ever wanted a ghostly pal, this beautiful book from Rebecca Green has everything you need to know about making friends with one! With a stylish muted palette and retro illustrations, a girl and her ghost-friend explain that ghosts love floating spaghetti and mudballs, need a cosy moss and spiderweb bed to sleep in, and must never ever be confused with towels hanging on doorknobs. And they’re nothing to be scared of, either – they just want someone to play with!

This is a lovely book for slightly older primary aged children.

Read our review of How To Make Friends With A Ghost

Got a recommendation for a Halloween picture book? Let us know on Twitter @BookTrust!

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