Books that go bump in the night: recommended 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.

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.

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.

Trick or Treat by Leo Landry (Houghton)
Ghost Oliver and his supernatural guests are surprised when two (human) trick-or-treaters arrive at their Halloween celebration. Cheery watercolors and make this not-scary story more treat than trick. Grade level: PS–3. 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.

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.

Vampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace; illus. by LeUyen Pham (Disney-Hyperion)
Fangs aside, deep down this young dancer is just like any other budding ballerina. The message that hard work and patience have beautiful results is inspirational; visual jokes will tickle both vampire fans and balletomanes. Grade level: K–3. 40 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? 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. 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.

Invisible Inkling: Dangerous Pumpkins by Emily Jenkins (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins)
Hank and his bandipat friend Inkling (an invisible, pumpkin-loving creature) face a gloomy Halloween. Hank has no one to trick-or-treat with, and he gets in big trouble when Inkling devours his sister’s amazing jack-o’-lanterns. 154 pages.

 

Older Fiction

Suggested grade level for each entry: 7 and up

Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough (Candlewick)
Cora learns of a string of child deaths and abductions associated with Guerdon Hall. Delving into Guerdon history, she and a local boy see ghosts of the children and of a tormented Elizabethan priest. 456 pages.

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.

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore (Delacorte)
Striving for normality in her magic-practicing family, Amy is happy for a summer on her aunt’s Texas ranch—until an apparition pulls her into a dangerous mystery. This lively teen ghost story offers plenty of suspense, humor, and local flavor. 408 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.

On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave by Candace Fleming (Schwartz & Wade/Random)
A living teen spends an evening listening to adolescent ghosts recount the stories of their demise. The tales (all setin the Chicago area and spanning from the 1850s to today) are full of suspense, chills, and, occasionally, gore. 200 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 the years 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 origin story; don’t miss the sequel Such Wicked Intent. 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.

Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan (HarperTeen)
Mel (who believes vampires shouldn’t fraternize with humans) follows her best friend’s vampire boyfriend home—and is surprised to meet a human boy living there. Both fearsome and funny, this is a fresh entry in the popular subgenre. 348 pages.

The Infects by Sean Beaudoin (Candlewick)
In this black comedy, Nick is sentenced to a reform camp after causing a meat contamination incident at the chicken processing plant where he works. When a few cannibal campers turn into a full-blown zombie outbreak, Nick and other survivors fend off the horde. 376 pages.

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Comments

  1. I love that you included Ghosts in the House! It’s my fa-vo-rite Halloween picture book.

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  1. [...] For our monthly book list of titles recommended by the Horn Book – this one just in time for Halloween! — click here. [...]

  2. [...] ghosties and long-leggedy beasties, so we’ve updated our Halloween reading list with lots of books that go bump in the night. These titles were all published within the last few years and recommended by The Horn Book [...]

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