Top 20+ Spooky, Slightly Scary Books For Kids (2022) Teacher’s Picks
Scary situations are part of life, and children need to learn how to deal with them. That is what scary stories for children do. Spooky children’s books are an excellent way to help them navigate and familiarize themselves with scary things in real life. They become more aware that these situations and being scared are okay and that they can cope.
With the Halloween quickly approaching, anything with a spooky profile is suitable for this time of the year – be it a house decoration, a few items for your garden or perhaps some books to keep your little one excited.
Below are some well-balanced slightly scary books for children between age 2-11 that don’t take things too far. We put the book's recommended age just under their title, most of the books in our selection is illustrated.
What Are The Top Spooky Children's Books? Suitable For Halloween
How to Catch a Witch, by Alice Walstead (2022)
(For 5 year olds)
The book is part of Alice Walstead's How to Catch series. The book utilizes STEAM concepts in the story and beautifully illustrated by Megan Joyce.
Something strange is happening on Halloween night and it's not the costumes or pumpkins for sure. When the Catch Club Kids go out trick-or-treating, there are lots of strange and spooky things out on the streets! Our heroes notice a witch who has opened a portal that leads to a distant scary place.
Will our heroes save Halloween and close that mystic portal? Let's find out!
Hide and Don’t Seek, by Anica Mrose Rissi (2021)
(For 10 year olds)
Hide and Don’t Seek is a title that delivers when it comes to scary tales and is a good fit for children between eight and twelve. It is a contemporary collection of various short horror stories for kids.
They will elicit laughs, chills, and at times screams, even for those who are the most devoted to scary stories. But the brave ones will turn the pages.
Young readers will first find a hide-and-seek game story that goes on for way too long. There is a look-alike doll story, and the doll is right at home. Readers also read about a school talent show that shocked everyone in the audience, and a summer camp that took a significant turn.
Some of the stories in the book are updated kinds of scary stories, but others give a new feeling altogether. The unique part is that the stories are also told using different formats. There is poetry, prose, a play, letters, and even a text message thread. The characters are diverse, and that is evident through their names.
The Dare, by Cynthea Liu (2020)
(For 9 year olds)
The Dare tells the story of Paris Pan, who has just moved to a small town. Paris has a real shot at building new relationships and making new friends. However, fostering her friendship will also not be an easy task. It comes at a price.
Paris has to take The Dare, a ghostly mystery. The Dare is something that made another girl go missing on the same property Paris now lives in.
To make matters worse, Paris also has to play basketball, and this is not something she wants. She is also struggling with a family crisis that a chili dog probably brought about.
This book is humorous, suspenseful, and has everything you would look for in a story. It has a scary element, relationship complexities, and emotional matters. It addresses issues of empathy, friendship, bullying, and peer pressure.
It would be ideal for anyone looking for a spunky and diverse female character in a book or any child who has outgrown chapter books and wants a fascinating and fast-paced read. The book can be read at home or in a class setting and will help your child build character and integrity.
Oh No! The Zombies Have Escaped!, by Laura Coleman (2018)
(For 6 year olds)
If your child is into zombies (somewhy), they will love this book and insist on reading it repeatedly. The book is more of a puzzle that children need to solve. That’s how it creates imagination, attention, and focus. It is short and straightforward, and that way, children will get to the end fast and not get bored quickly.
It features fifteen zombies that children must find if they dare. They have to spot them on every page, and the zombie that is to be found is named with “find so and so” description states.
All these zombies have escaped, but they also could be anywhere. As a parent or teacher, help your little one spot Rottie, Fester, Reeking Rita, Vile Vinny but don’t forget about Corpsey and Rancid Rick. These zombies were at their graveyard, but then they were not.
Mostly, they lurk around shops, a party, and on a farm. But there are other places to find them too.
No Such Thing, by Ella Bailey (2022)
(For 4 year olds)
For those who enjoy scary bedtime stories with their children or those who love going on a Hallowe’en adventure, No Such Thing makes an excellent read. It would make a perfect addition and a great Hallowe’en gift.
The story is spooky with just the right amount of scary for children. It is also playful and slightly sarcastic in a way that children will love.
Bailey tells the story using a sweet retro feel and uses charming characters, beautiful pictures, and illustrations. Every page has delightful visual flourishes and bold artwork that convey the protagonist's increasing insistence that everything must have a rational explanation.
Georgia noticed something unusual one day in October. Objects were moving around their house, but there were times they even got out of sight. Many people wondered and questioned if that could have been the doing of something spooky during that time. That was mainly because of the timing of these events. But clever Georgia didn’t think the same as everyone. She seemed to have all the explanations and didn’t fear anything. That’s when she set out to debunk this mischief.
Allow your little one to join Georgia on this adventure and get captivated by the events while being charged with imagination.
Creepy Pair of Underwear, by Aaron Reynolds (2017)
(For 4 year olds)
Creepy Pair of Underwear is hilarious with just the right dose of creepy for little ones. The story is about a brave rabbit and a strange pair of underwear.
The story’s main character is Jasper Rabbit, who has already grown out of being a little bunny. Jasper is not afraid of the dark, and he indeed couldn’t fear something as inconsequential and silly as underwear.
Since he needs new underwear, he goes shopping with his mother. He bypasses the boring white pairs and gets neon green ones. They are peculiar and comfortable. It doesn’t matter that they look like Frankenstein’s mother.
Later that night, Jasper’s large and new underwear begins to glow in the dark when the lights go out, giving a greenish and ghoulish glow. He would say that his underwear is creepy if he didn't know better. Obviously, he is not scared.
He will try to get rid of the underwear by burying them in a deep hole, but more green undies will still appear.
The Super Tiny Ghost, by Marilee Joy Mayfield (2019)
(For 5 year olds)
The Super Tiny Ghost is a ghost story with a unique touch. Even with the bit of spook it may give your child, it will teach them that insecurities don’t make anyone less important. The book will capture a child’s imagination with its fun illustrations. Its background is nighttime evident on the pages, and it also features fonts with changing colors.
In the book is a tiny ghost with a big dream of becoming the scariest being on Hallowe’en. But on that day, he doesn’t make anybody scream or cry. That’s when he makes up his mind that there is still another way to be the scariest ghoul in his town.
However, he will learn an important lesson at the end about being true to himself, being kind, and feeling complete and content. He also learns that frightening everyone to tears is not always fun.
Coraline, by Neil Geiman (2012)
(For 11 year olds)
Coraline is a creepy modern ghost story told playfully and funnily. It steers tension, but it is thrilling and inventive. The message passed is about solving individual problems using what you have got and that sometimes free things have a catch. The book also explores a theme that you may encounter flawed instances, but it is not always safe jumping at every new situation or opportunity.
Coraline discovers a particular door after they move into a new house. She steps through this door but finds another house on the opposite side. It is similar to their house, but it looks even better, and everything there seems marvelous.
This other house has a mother and father, and they both want Coraline to stay and become their little girl. Their wish is to change Coraline, stay with her, and never let her go.
The only thing that can save Coraline is her courage and wit. She will have to use these qualities to fight and return to her everyday life.
Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson (2003)
(For 3 year olds)
Room on the Broom features some stunning illustrations from Axel Scheffler to keep your little one entertained. The story is quite simple and direct. You have a good witch, as well as her cat. The witch invites a few other animals to ride with her and her cat – a frog, a bird and a dog kick in for some fun.
The story will then follow all the adventures these characters will go through. It is an unusual crew and there is plenty of action for entertainment. Moreover, while there is a witch involved, this story is less likely to give your toddler nightmares – instead, it is the type of story that will instill a few values.
Your little one will learn what it takes to be kind and polite, but they will also discover the power of a solid friendship. All in all, the story is so well rated that it has been translated into 22 different languages. Moreover, it has won a bunch of book awards over the past years.
Little Blue Truck's Halloween, by Alice Schertle (2016)
(For 3 year olds)
This is one of the most exciting Halloween books for kids and for some good reasons. Most importantly, it will put your little one in the best possible mood for Halloween – a holiday that does not necessarily have to be scary and terrifying, but just about having fun in a unique costume.
Little Blue Truck is getting ready for a costume party, but the truck will not go there alone. On the way, the truck has to pick up some of his best friends. Each of his friends has a different costume – unique ideas that will definitely surprise your toddler.
The book is mostly aimed at young kids and toddlers. It is sturdy and comes with flaps for even more entertainment. It comes with funny rhymes and unique illustrations. It is a book about friendship, colorful adventures and great entertainment – what else can you ask for?
Creepy Carrots!, by Aaron Reynolds (2012)
(For 5 year olds)
This is the type of book that will give your little one some thrills, but also teach them a few things – being greedy is never a good idea. When it comes to Halloween, you probably know already your kid is about to exaggerate a little with all the candy around the house. Now, this children's Halloween book will teach them a lesson.
This book tells the story of Jasper Rabbit. The funny rabbit loves carrots – his favorite treats. He eats them when he goes to school, walking home, relaxing, going to various activities and so on. But one day, the carrots seem to start following him. The rabbit is now worried that carrots might be coming after him.
The book features a delightful text in a hilarious style. At the same time, it features a few fun games for your kid. It is perfectly enhanced with Peter Brown’s unique illustrations, so you have a bit of everything to keep your kid entertained this Halloween.
Big Pumpkin, by Erica Silverman (1995)
(For 4 year olds)
This is the type of story that will give your kid a good laugh, but also teach them a lesson. Plus, it is the type of story that will get you to ask yourself what is going to happen next. All in all, it tells the story of a clever bat – not the scariest story in the world, but it features some Halloween-specific characters.
A witch decides to grow the biggest pumpkin in the world. The Halloween is approaching, so she wants to get herself some pumpkin pie. However, she succeeds in growing a massive pumpkin – so big that she cannot even move it. She cannot even take it off the vine.
A ghost joins to give her a hand, but no one can move the pumpkin. A vampire tries the same thing – mission impossible. The mummy is there as well, but no one can move the pumpkin. It looks like there may not be any pie for Halloween, but a clever bat has an incredible idea to save Halloween.
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, by Linda Williams (2019)
(For 4 year olds)
The title of this book is self-explanatory. It tells the story of a lady who was simply not afraid of anything. She was old, but she was also little. With all these, nothing could scare her. She knew that nothing could hurt her and she would take one challenge after another to prove her skills.
But then, something happens. It was a cold night of autumn. The little old lady was walking in a forest when she suddenly heard some noises around her. The noises were quite unusual and different from what she was familiar with.
She had the shock of her life. What was it? There is only one way to find out. This children's Halloween book features illustrations by Megan Lloyd and tells a fun Halloween story that will put your little one in the right mood for Halloween.
Spooky Pookie, by Sandra Boynton (2017)
(For 2 year olds)
Halloween is close and Pookie has no idea what to do this year. The holiday is Pookie’s favorite time of the year, but this year, the funny character is out of ideas – pretty much like your kid when about to choose the right costume for Halloween.
Pookie is pictured trying one costume after another, but nothing seems to work. Finding the right thing for this year’s Halloween seems like an impossible task. The fun character has a big dilemma, but things will work out eventually.
This is the type of story that will entertain both you and your little one. Apart from Sandra Boynton’s unique storytelling skills, the book also features her unique illustrations. Bottom line, this book has become a Halloween classic – definitely worth a read.
Ten Timid Ghosts, by Jennifer O'Connell (2000)
(For 2 year olds)
It is that scary time of the year and everyone is busy trying to do something. But things are quite dull in a haunted house. There are ten timid ghosts hanging around and they have a big problem for Halloween – a bad witch is getting ready to move into their house. Even worse, she is planning to chase them away.
Ghosts are seen disappearing one after the other. They see all kinds of scary things that chase them away – obviously, the witch’s bad tricks. However, one of them is quite clever and discovers the witch’s plan before going away. Things turn to 180 degrees as the ghosts come back together to reclaim the house.
The ghosts team up and aim to push the witch out of the house. The text can be a bit spooky at times, but the fun rhymes will ensure your little one does not get any nightmares. Furthermore, this is the type of story that will teach your little one how to count – even more fun.
Pete the Cat: Trick or Pete, by Kimberly Dean and James Dean (2017)
(For 3 year olds)
This is one of the most exciting Halloween books for kids if your little one cannot read. It makes a good bedtime story and will give your little one a bit of fun with all the flaps. The story? Classic – join Pete the Cat as he decides to go trick or treating this Halloween.
There are lots of costume ideas in this book, as well as lots of adventures for Pete – from pumpkin and candy to costumes and various surprises. Each door has a different surprise for the funky cat and the flaps will make it even better.
Apart from the story revolving around Halloween, each flap has its own spooky surprise, so this is the scary element for your kid. Illustrations are quite detailed and can keep your toddler busy while trying to discover everything.
The Night Before Halloween, by Natasha Wing and Cynthia Fisher (1999)
(For 3 year olds)
If your kid loved The Night Before Easter, chances are they will find The Night Before Halloween just as exciting. The story is simple, fun and exciting for kids – only 32 pages, but full of fun and spooky adventures.
The action takes place in the night before Halloween, in a house full of creatures. Everyone is getting ready for Halloween in one way or another – scary costumes, different ideas for trick and treaters, candy and so on. There is a big preparation in the house, but things are about to go crazy soon.
Each little monster has a different plan for kids knocking on the door. Little humans are about to get the surprise of a lifetime. Your kid will die to find out what happens next – excellent illustrations and funky rhymes to keep them excited for this holiday.
The Witches, by Roald Dahl (2019)
(For 8 year olds)
This book is a classic Halloween books for kids. It is not the average Halloween book, but a so called real story. It is not a fairy tale, but a story about real witches – the types of witches who do all sorts of things, rather than just ride around on broomsticks.
The story will give your little one a different perception of Halloween after going through Roald Dahl's story. Witches in this story do not wear black clothes or hats. They are bad and detestable – moreover, they are disguised as nice ladies, in order to full people.
So, how can you tell when you meet a witch? If you have no idea what to do in this situation, you better find out quickly because Halloween is approaching. Witches from all over the world are about to take over, so your kid will find this story both scary and fascinating.
A Little Ghost Was She, by Thomas E. Krygsheld (2021)
(For 5 year olds)
A Little Ghost Was She is a book that has spiritual meaning with Christian symbolism and Shamanism. It also helps children connect with nature again, and hoping to console those who experienced a loss of a child. The story is written poetically and is accompanied by beautiful illustrations.
The mysterious story talks about a little girl who showed up at a tea party in 2004 in a red dress. The strange thing is that she didn’t appear in the pictures taken on that day. The positions she stood and sat only showed a blank space on the pictures.
Several days passed, and everyone started asking who the little girl was. But nobody ever got to know who she was. Curiosity and buzz are the only things that ensued.
The Spooky Wheels on the Bus, by J. Elizabeth Mills (2010)
(For 2 year olds)
This is one of the best Halloween books for kids if you want to teach your little one how to count in a fun and exciting adventure. To keep it simple, this story is about a haunted bus that only comes out on Halloween. Your kid will sing along, get scared and enjoy the ride of a lifetime.
If your kid is familiar with The Wheels on the Bus, this Halloween-themed story takes it to another level. It has some funky rhymes and humorous text, as well as ghoulish adventures and the perfect spirit for a trick or treat adventure.
Teach your kid how to count passengers as the spooky bus travels through the town picking unsuspecting passengers. The book is not just fun to go through, but it also features some stunning illustrations from Ben Mantle.
The Hallo-Weiner, by Dav Pilkey (1999)
(For 4 year olds)
Dav Pilkey is an expert when it comes to books for children and this title will not disappoint your kid. It tells Oscar’s story – a funny dog with a problem about bullying. The problem tends to occur around Halloween.
All in all, the poor dog seems to get more tricks than treats and mostly because bigger dogs tend to bully and tease him. However, everyone has a superpower, and a simple act of bravery turns Oscar into a local hero.
This book shows that a tiny wiener can be a winner. It teaches your kid that bullying is a bad thing and everyone can be a winner.
Final Thoughts on Slightly Scary Books For Kids
The scary books on this list are must-reads for children with valuable practical life lessons. Children will enjoy them even with their spooky touch.
In the end, any of the above-mentioned titles can classify also among the best Halloween books for kids. Indeed, the list can go longer, but these releases will put your kid in the perfect mood for Halloween. The best part about it? Some of them are a bit educational and can make Halloween a fun experience as well.
If you are looking for more children's books, check out our favorite books for kids.
My profession is online marketing and development (10+ years experience), check my latest mobile app called Upcoming. But my real passion is reading books both fiction and non-fiction. I have several favorite authors like James Redfield or Daniel Keyes. If I read a book I always want to find the best part of it, every book has it's unique value.