Halloween Reading

The books recommended below were published within the last several years. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion.

 

PICTURE BOOKS
Suggested grade level listed with each entry.

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara (Roaring Brook)
After moving into a haunted house, a young witch hops on her broom and starts ghost-wrangling; the smiling characters make clear that no one’s really scared. Grade level: PS. 32 pages.

Only a Witch Can Fly Alison McGhee; illus. by Taeeun Yoo (Feiwel)
After trick-or-treating, a girl wearing a witch hat sets out to fly on her broom; two false starts precede triumphant success. Rhythmic second-person verse resembles a lullaby. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

There’s No Such Thing as Ghosts! by Emmanuelle Eeckhout (Kane/Miller)
A boy, armed with his trusty butterfly net, goes ghost-hunting at a haunted house. Though he doesn’t see a single ghost, young viewers will spot a whole bevy of them. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

The Haunted Hamburger and Other Ghostly Stories by David LaRochelle (Dutton)
Ghost siblings Franny and Frankie demand a story before bed. Of course, one is never enough, and Father Ghost is persuaded to tell three full of perfectly calibrated humor. Grade level: 1–3. 40 pages.

Bone Dog by Eric Rohmann (Roaring Brook)
Skeletons come out of the graveyard to taunt trick-or-treater Gus; he’s protected by the ghost of his beloved dog. The skeletons’ silliness nicely balances the poignant reunion of boy and pet. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

 

YOUNGER FICTION
Suggested grade level for each entry: 1–3

Babymouse: Monster Mash by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Random House)
Felicia Furrypaw tells Babymouse that girls have to be something pretty for Halloween. Should Babymouse go along with Felicia’s rules? Grade level: 1–3. 94 pages.

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Dead Bodies, Funerals, and Other Fatal Circumstances written by Lenore Look, illus. by LeUyen Pham (Random House/Schwartz & Wade)
A misunderstanding leads Alvin’s classmates to first think Alvin’s grandfather has died–then to believe he’s a zombie. Copious illustrations capture moments both silly and sad. Grade level: 1–3. 199 pages.

 

INTERMEDIATE FICTION
Suggested grade level for each entry: 4–6

Seer of Shadows by Avi (HarperCollins)
Photographer’s apprentice Horace becomes engaged in spiritualist fleecing. The story’s suspense comes to a head when Horace’s photographs unleash a vengeful ghost. 202 pages.

All the Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn (Clarion)
Travis and Corey are excited to stay at a reputedly haunted inn—until the ghosts awake. Spectral hijinks lighten the backstory of abused children and their malevolent guardian. 182 pages.

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn (Clarion)
Florence is happy to leave the orphanage, but soon senses that Something Is Not Right in Crutchfield Hall. This truly scary period tale is both rousing historical fiction and ghost story. 153 pages.

Dying to Meet You: 43 Old Cemetery Road, Book 1 written by Kate Klise; illus. by M. Sarah Klise (Harcourt)
The ghost of a never-published writer encounters a (live) author with writer’s block. Together they write a ghost story, illustrated by eleven-year-old Seymour Hope. 156 pages.

Hannah’s Winter by Kierin Meehan (Kane/Miller)
While her mom crisscrosses Japan, Hannah stays with the Maekawa family. The daughter, Miki, is thrilled when Hannah discovers a ghost—a boy who needs their help. 212 pages.

 

OLDER FICTION
Suggested grade level for each entry: 7 and up

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol (Roaring Brook/First Second)
In this wry and spine-tingling graphic novel, Anya falls into an abandoned well and meets Emily, who’s been dead and trapped inside for ninety years. When Anya is rescued, Emily goes too. 222 pages.

A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts written by Ying Chang Compestine; illus. by Coleman Polhemus (Holt/Ottaviano)
In Chinese tradition, hungry ghosts are appeased with food. Eight grisly ghost stories introduce various elements of Chinese history and culture, with cuisine playing a key role. 180 pages.

The House of Dead Maids written by Clare B. Dunkle; illus. by Patrick Arrasmith (Holt)
In this gothic tale inspired by Wuthering Heights, Tabby is taken to dreary Seldom House to watch over a small, wild boy; the children are soon visited by a ghost. 151 pages.

The Graveyard Book written by Neil Gaiman; illus. by Dave McKean (HarperCollins)
After escaping the murder of his family, a toddler is adopted by the ghostly denizens of a local graveyard. This ghost-story-cum-coming-of-age novel is both bittersweet and action-filled. 312 pages.

Ghost Town by Richard W. Jennings (Houghton)
Former residents of Paisley start appearing in Spencer’s photographs of the town’s old haunts. The premise of a ghost town coming back to life through photos and dreams is delicious. 169 pages.

The Ghosts of Kerfol by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick)
Five linked ghost stories begin with a retelling of  Edith Wharton’s “Kerfol”, then span 1802 to 2006. Each tale is firmly grounded in its time but maintains the gothic atmosphere. 165 pages.

This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel (Simon)
When sixteen-year-old Konrad contracts a mysterious illness, his twin brother Victor risks his own neck to concoct the Elixir of Life. A meticulously researched Frankenstein prequel. 298 pages.

Three Quarters Dead by Richard Peck (Dial)
Sophomore Kerry is thrilled to be allowed into a clique of super-cool seniors. When the other girls are killed in a car crash, Kerry feels she’s “three quarters dead”–until the dead return. 195 pages.

The Other Side of Dark by Sarah Smith (Atheneum)
When ghosts of slaves begin haunting Katie, she and classmate Law suspect the so-called “treasure” in a mansion slated for demolition is money meant to finance the illegal importation of slaves. 312 pages.

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  1. [...] maybe chuckles!  Here are some of our favorite recent Halloween reads, including scary and not-so-scary stories alike. /* Filed Under: Choosing Books, Featured, [...]

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