Halloween Books for Kids


For parents with younger children, Halloween is a fine balancing act. How do you find skeleton costumes that are spooky without being too scary? How do you plan ghostly party games that will make your kids shriek with laughter, not with fear? And how can you make sure the gigantic, glowing, inflatable witch on your neighbors’ lawn will make them giggle instead of scream all night?

Here are some books that walk (and even fly) the line perfectly.

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara. When a little girl goes to live in an old house, she discovers that it’s haunted. Luckily, “the girl [isn’t] just a girl. She [is] a witch!” In no time, she has the ghosts exactly where she wants them: in the washing machine. Soon, she makes the frowning ghosts into happily smiling curtains and tablecloths. And when the witch gets tired, she curls up under a ghost blanket. Kohara’s strikingly attractive design hits exactly the right note. While the orange and black pages signal a spooky subject, the blocky, cheerful outlines and smiling heroine reassure both parents and children that nothing too scary will happen. Kohara’s true masterpieces are the flowing white, nearly transparent ghosts with the texture of tissue paper.

Only a Witch Can Fly, by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo. It’s easy to forget one of the most wonderful things about witches: they can fly. The elegant, unusual, breathless rhymes capture a girl’s longing to soar through the sky, and her joy when she finally manages it. Pages colored brown, black, and olive green evoke a moonlit night in the countryside as the little girl in a witch’s costume attempts, and fails, to fly her broomstick. With the help of her pajama-clad brother, however, she tries again and succeeds. “Who could have known it was such a big sky?/ Bat and Owl below wave Bye, Bye/ and Cat calls a velvet song to the moon./ And you? You have flown . . . /you have flown!”

Big Pumpkin, by Erica Silverman, illustrated by S. D. Schindler. A witch finds herself with a problem: she wants to make pumpkin pie, but her pumpkin is so big she can’t move it herself. When a ghost, a vampire, a mummy, and a little bat offer to help, she hesitates. “It’s big and it’s mine, but it’s stuck on the vine, and Halloween is just hours away!” she cries. Only the thought of pumpkin pie overcomes her selfish desire to keep the pumpkin all to herself. But even the ghouls can’t move the giant pumpkin, until the little bat points out they have to work together. The book manages to offer many wonderful life lessons in its funny, rollicking rhymes. After they all eat the pumpkin pie, for example, the witch is already planning another pumpkin party for the next year. The humor of the brightly colored illustrations – the witch has a green face and a nose like a pickle – make the book friendly for even younger children.

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications.

You can check out the Sweet Peas & Stilettos’ children’s books page for quick access to all of Susan’s wonderful children’s book reviews.

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