A selection of spooky children's books on a black background with orange stars

Image: Ryan MacEachern/Penguin

Funnybones by Janet & Allan Ahlberg (1980)

What could be spookier than a skeleton walking along a dark dark street? Three skeletons! A big, small and dog skeleton venture out of their dark dark cellar to explore the dark dark town. They play in the park, visit the skeleton zoo animals and look for someone to frighten. The problem is everyone is asleep! So, that leaves them having to frighten each other. It wouldn’t be Halloween without Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s classic Funnybones tale, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

Recommended reading age: 3-5 years old

There’s a Witch in Your Book by Tom Fletcher & Greg Abbott (2020)

Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble – there’s a cheeky witch causing a lot of trouble in this story from the Who’s in Your Book? series. She’s hellbent on making a mess, so it’s up to you, the reader, to use your own magic to keep your book tidy. But watch out: she can get cross and might try and turn you into a toad! This is a wonderful story to read together during the witching season.

Recommended reading age: 2-5 years old

Kay’s Marvellous Medicine by Adam Kay & Henry Paker (2021)

If you have a strong stomach and love reading about all things dreadfully gross, this is the book for you. Former doctor Adam Kay gives a rundown of medicine throughout history and, trust us, it’s not the most pleasant. You’ll find out why patients gargled wee. What surgeons used before anaesthetic came along. And all the different ways doctors discovered the inner workings of our bodies.

Recommended reading age: 8-12 years old

The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Halloween Trick or Treat by Eric Carle (2021)

Our favourite hungry caterpillar is getting into the Halloween spirit. He’s on the hunt (again) for some tasty treats. Can you help him count all the different creatures and find the treats? This is a great story to read at bedtime, and there’s a fun trick-or-treat surprise at the end...

Recommended reading age: 0-3 years old

How to Avoid Witches by Roald Dahl & Quentin Blake (2020)

Halloween is not the only time of the year you should be avoiding witches, but it’s a good start. As we all know, witches HATE human children. They’re always plotting and scheming to rid the world of children permanently, so it’s up to us to spot them first and avoid being squished. This comprehensive guide will tell you how to spot a witch, what happens if you consume Formula 86 Delayed Action Mouse-Maker (hint: it's in the name), and give you essential facts on the Grand High Witch – she’s the one you’ll want to avoid the most! Preparation is everything.

Recommended reading age: 7-9 years old

The Danger Gang by Tom Fletcher & Shane Devries (2020)

When you move to a new town, you expect things to be a little weird whilst you adjust. But in Franky’s case, things get weird pretty quickly in the town of Freaky (yes, that’s really its name). After only just moving there, an unusual storm that smells like a dog’s bottom and emits green lightning sweeps over the town. Very weird. But things carry on as normal. Until one day at school,  it appears that Franky and the other kids who live down his street have experienced some odd side effects from that very strange storm…

Recommended reading age: 7-11 years old

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

For older readers, there’s no better time of the year to dive into Mary Shelley’s timeless monster tale. Victor Frankenstein is an ambitious and talented doctor who manages to create a living being out of dead body parts. However, no sooner has his creation come alive than Frankenstein flees out of fear of what he has done. But is the creature really the monster? Or is it the man who created him? This 200-year-old horror story still has the power to send shivers down anyone’s spine.

Recommended reading age: 11-17 years old

Daisy and the Trouble with Vampires by Kes Gray (2020)

Daisy doesn’t like vampires. She’s not scared of them or anything, but it’s nearly Halloween and that’s all people like Jack Beechwhistle seem to be talking about – as well as zombies, ghosts and werewolves! And after a while, these things can play on your mind and get a bit scary-ish, which isn’t fun when night comes along and it starts to get very dark… A funny and spooktacular tale for fans of the Daisy series.

Recommended reading age: 5-7 years old

Spot’s Spooky Fun by Eric Hill (2014)

Dressing up is one of the best parts of Halloween and so Spot and his friends are putting their costumes together. Helen is going to be a fairy; Steve is a clown, and Tom will be a pirate – arr, matey! His friends have all chosen such great costumes, but what will Spot be? This is the perfect book to snuggle down and read together on the spookiest night of the year.

Recommended reading age: 3-5 years old

The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy (1974)

Mildred Hubble is a trainee witch, and she’s got a lot of work to do. She always manages to land herself in a spot of bother – from disastrously mixing up spells and potions, to crashing her broomstick. Written and illustrated by Jill Murphy, this classic – and often shambolic – boarding school tale is perfect for fans of all things mystical and magical. 

Recommended reading age: 7-10 years old

The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner by Terry Pratchett (2017)

This compendium of laugh-out-loud stories is perfect for tricksters this Halloween. From acclaimed author Terry Pratchett, The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner features 14 hilariously chaotic stories, combining everything from wizards, pirates, and errr… a mysterious vacuum cleaner!? With fantastic illustrations and a little bit of magic and mayhem, this is a light-hearted but ghoulishly delightful collection that will delight Pratchett fans as well as newcomers to the author’s work.

Recommended reading age: 7-9 years old

Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (2014)

The Screaming Staircase is not a book for the faint-of-heart. The first in a chilling series by Jonathan Stroud, it’s set in a time with a sinister problem – ghosts and menacing ghouls have been troubling the country for over 50 years. Focusing on a ramshackle Psychic Investigations Agency, plucky ghost hunter Lucy Carlyle tackles a grisly assignment in one of the most haunted houses in England. Will she survive to tell the tale?

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

Danger Really Is Everywhere by David O’Doherty (2016)

Halloween can be a terrifying and dangerous time – there are goblins and ghouls, witches and tricks. If you’re scared of things that go bump in the night and need a little reassuring, or perhaps just a good old chuckle, this laugh-out-loud guide will show you how to avoid the dangers that lurk ominously in the background of everyday life. What, you didn’t know ghosts were afraid of bubbles!? You can even learn how to tell if your teacher is a vampire. Stay safe! 

Recommended reading age: 8-11 years old

The Demon Undertaker by Cameron McAllister (2016)

A terrifying kidnapper known as ‘The Demon Undertaker’ is on the loose, and he’s unleashing a reign of terror on the streets of London. Snatching victims across the capital, this masked man in his ghastly hearse seems to have a sinister plan – but is he a man, or is he something altogether more alarming? Make sure you lock your doors before going to sleep after reading this sinister tale – it will leave you chilled to the bone. 

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

Where Monsters Lie by Polly Ho-Yen (2016)

The children of Mivtown have grown up knowing the legend of the monsters of the loch. Every year the villagers throw an offering into the dark waters to appease them – though of course no one actually believes the stories behind the legends. But this year peculiar things begin to happen, and protagonist Effie’s life starts to slowly unravel. First, her rabbit goes missing, and then, so does her mum. This atmospheric book is a gorgeous tale of legends, curses, and local mysteries. 

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down by Jeff Kinney (2016)

Double Down, the 11th adventure in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, follows Greg Heffley’s escapades over the creepiest time of the year – All Hallow’s Eve. With the frightening night just around the corner, the scares are coming at Greg from all angles. Will Greg survive Halloween, and, even worse, his mum’s embarrassing party games?

Recommended reading age: 9-12 years old

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