The Best Non-Scary Halloween Books

Halloween is an exciting time of year filled with pumpkins, ghosts, goblins, mummies, witches….wait, those last few things can be a little terrifying to children. Picture books with a Halloween theme can help assuage children’s fears and bring out all of the fun parts to this great holiday. Below are a few of our favorite not too scary Halloween reads.

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Ten Orange Pumpkins: A Counting Book by Stephen Savage, 2013

(Ages 2 – 5)

This Halloween-themed counting book uses simple rhymes and engaging graphic illustrations to count down a group of pumpkins from ten to one. The pumpkins disappear in amusing ways drawing readers in. A variety of traditionally creepy characters are included such as a mummy, witch, and ghost, but they are seen smiling and enjoying their new pumpkins. The pictures are large and bold and the inviting text makes this a fantastic story to read aloud to young children.

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Boo! Haiku by Deanna Caswell; illustrated by Bob Shea, 2016

(Ages 2 to 5)

Using short poems in a haiku format, the text and illustrations give a hint to a well-known spooky creature that one might see during Halloween: “broom across the moon/ pointed hat at the window/ hair-raising cackle/ can you guess who from this haiku?/ Boo! It’s a witch!” The interactive book brings poetry alive as children eagerly guess what the next creature will be. Bob Shea’s illustrations are more friendly than spooky making this an excellent Halloween read aloud for young children. The book ends with an author’s note explaining the art of haiku.  If you enjoy this format, check out Guess Who Haiku also by Caswell and Shea.

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We’re Going on a Ghost Hunt by Susan Pearson; illustrated by S.D. Schindler, 2012

(Ages 2 – 6)

Inspired by Helen Oxenbury and Michael Rosen’s classic, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a group of children travel through various spooky scenes while searching for a ghost. It’s rhythmic text makes this a perfect story to read out loud to a class or enjoy one on one. When I read this to my Pre-K students I encouraged them to stand up and act out the different actions in the story. Just as the children in the book will want to go on another ghost hunt, children reading the story will want a repeat as well.

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Snowmen At Halloween by Caralyn Buehner; illustrated by Mark Buehner, 2019

(Ages 3 – 6)

The latest installment of this popular series is just as endearing and charming as you would expect. When snow falls early one autumn, two children dress up their snowmen in Halloween costumes and imagine the fun adventures they could have at night. The illustrations hold a number of entertaining details and the upbeat rhymes make this a perfect read aloud for a group of young children as well as one-on-one.

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If You’re a Monster and You Know It by Rebecca and Ed Emberley, 2010

(Ages 2 – 5)

This Halloween version of the song “If Your Happy and You Knowwill make children stomp their paws, twitch their tails, and snort and growl. Caldecott award winning illustrator, Ed Emberley, teams up with his daughter to create this colorful book that begs to be read out loud.

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Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley, 1992

(Ages 2 – 5)

This is a Halloween classic that I still read every year. The story begins by introducing all of the features of a monster: “two big yellow eyes/ a long blue nose/ a big red mouth” that appear through die cut illustrations. Then halfway through the story, the brave narrator asserts, “You don’t scare me! So GO AWAY squiggly purple hair”, etc. until all of the monster’s features have been named. The book ends with the narrator telling the monster to go away and “don’t come back! Until I say so.” This is a great story to empower young children to conquer their own fears of creepy creatures.

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Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson; illustrated by Axel Scheffler, 2001

(Ages 3 – 6)

A kind-hearted witch riding her broom one dark and stormy night loses articles of clothing, which are found by a dog, a cat, a bird, and a frog. When they each ask for a ride on the broom, she says yes until they become so heavy that the broom breaks in two. The witch falls into the clutches of a dragon who tries to eat her. Luckily she is saved by her new friends. This sweet story of friendship is a perfect Halloween read for young children.

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Pug and Pig Trick-or-Treat (series) by Sue Lowell Gallion; illustrated by Joyce Wan, 2017

(Ages 3 – 6)

Pug and Pig are two best friends who do everything together including wearing the same skeletal costume at Halloween. While Pig loves the snug fit, bones that glow in the dark, and mask, dog dislikes all of these features and decides he is done with Halloween. Then he sees how important the holiday is to his best friend and in an unselfish act, he finds a creative new costume and accompanies his friend trick-or-treating.

This book is just adorable! Pug, Pig, and their surroundings are sweetly illustrated creating a cheerful tone to this delightful Halloween story.

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Pick a Pumpkin by Patricia Toht; illustrated by Jarvis, 2019

(Ages 3 – 6)

This beautifully illustrated treasure follows a family as they pick a pumpkin at a farm and transform it into a jack-o-lantern. The simple, rhythmic text does a wonderful job of capturing the fun of the fall season and the magic of childhood during this time of year.

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The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams; illustrated by Megan Lloyd, 1986

(Ages 3 – 6)

This classic story is one of my absolute favorites to read aloud to preschool-age children. When a little old lady is walking through the woods, she encounters a pair of shoes, gloves, pants, shirt, and pumpkin that all try to frighten her. In a satisfying ending, they find a better use of their time that makes everyone happy. The clever use of onomatopoeia makes this a book that children love to participate in.

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Halloween Hustle by Charlotte Gunnufson; illustrated  by Kevan J. Atteberry, 2013

(Ages 3 – 6)

When a clumsy skeleton is invited to a Halloween party, he and his friends boogie on down the road to the big bash. The upbeat rhymes to this toe-tapping story are sure to make little ones want to dance themselves.

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The Great Pumpkin Contest by Angela Rozelaar

(Ages 4 – 8)

This story about competition and collaboration could not be sweeter. When two cats who are neighbors both enter a pumpkin growing contest, they find that a blossoming friendship could be a better prize than a first-place ribbon. The illustrations and storyline are adorable making this a charming choice for the autumn season.

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Monster Needs a Costume by Paul Czajak; illustrated by Wendy Grieb, 2013

(Ages 4 -8)

In the first installment of the Monster and Me series, the protagonist is a friendly monster who can’t decide what he wants to be for Halloween. At first he wants to be a cowboy, until he sees the ballet and then wants to be a dancer, until he sees a ninja movie and changes his mind once again. I think this is a very relatable story as many children are indecisive about their Halloween costumes each year. I really enjoyed the ending where the monster decides to combine all of his costumes and trick-or-treat as a cowboy-ninja-dancer. It leaves readers with the positive message that it is okay for children to pursue their passions, whatever they may be. 

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Stumpkin by Lucy Ruth Cummins, 2018

(Ages 4 – 8)

A stemless pumpkin spends his days in front of a store longing to be chosen and transformed into a jack-o-lantern. When Halloween finally arrives and he has yet to be picked, he fears the worst. In a dramatic visual sequence, readers watch as Stumpkin’s dream comes true in an unexpected way. This endearing tale is a fun spin on pumpkin stories.  

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Birdie’s Happiest Halloween by Sujean Rim, 2016

(Ages 4 – 8)

In this installment of the Birdie series, our protagonist is searching for a Halloween costume. She visits a museum for inspiration. Some children may not know all of the historical figures referenced such as Sandra Day O’Connor, Eleanor Roosevelt and Albert Einstein, so it could be a great opportunity to introduce children to important historical icons. What children will relate to, however, is Birdie’s feeling of empowerment that she can be whatever she wants… for Halloween and in life.

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The Halloween Kid by Rhode Montijo, 2010

(Ages 4 – 8)

If you’re looking for a rootin’ tootin’ good time, this is the book for you. A throw-back to westerns from the 1950’s, The Halloween Kid focuses on a hero and his horse who save their town from bad guys each Halloween. That is except for this year, when the Goodie Goblins get the best of the Halloween Kid and he has to rely on the children of the town to work as a team to save him. This is a fun story about friendship, bravery, and teamwork.

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The Teeny Tiny Halloween by Lauren L. Wohl; illustrated by Henry Cole 2016

Where many Halloween stories are filled with frightful creatures, this holiday offering is more subdued and creates a quaint tone that draws the reader in right away.

Once there was a tiny woman who lives in a small house in a big forest. Each year, the leaves fall on the tiny house, trapping the woman inside. She calmly bakes cookies hoping the sweet aroma will bring help.

 This story leaves readers feeling happy and cozy and wanting cookies of their own!

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What are some of your favorite Halloween books to read with children?

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