The Not-So-Scary Halloween

This is the time of year when I get requests for a Halloween read aloud, but one that’s not too scary, please!

After The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, by by Linda Williams (Harper, 1986), The Ghost of Sifty Sifty Sam by Angela Shelf Medearis (Scholastic, 1997) and Hoodwinked by Arthur Howard (Harcourt, 2001), I start to come up dry. I was delighted to see the following newcomers join the pack of old favorites for the little ones’ story time.

Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Kelly Murphy, Candlewick, July, 2011. Ages 3+

The cuddliest, sweetest monsters this side of Monsters inc. We follow the furry, multi-eyed, spiky teethed creatures as they leave school and hip-hop, tumble and slither home in the dusky evening light.  Yolen’s spare rhyming text makes this the perfect unscary, scary good-night story.


The 13 Nights of Halloween, written and illustrated by Guy Vasilovich, Harper, July, 2011. Ages 5 and up.

Riffing on the Twelve Days of Christmas, the text sings, “On the first night of Halloween, my mummy gave to me, a bright, shiny skeleton key. On the second day of Halloween my mummy gave to me, a 2- headed snake and a bright, shiny skeleton key.”  Vasilovich’s cheerfully gruesome illustrations abound with visual puns (the 3 baseball “bats” are flying mammals in sports caps). Begs to be sung aloud at holiday program.


Little Goblins Ten by Pamela Jane, Illustrated by Jane Manning, Harper, July, 2011. Ages 4 and up

We count up the monsters, ghosts, zombies, werewolves and mummies in this Halloween retelling of the preschool classic, Over in the Meadow. “Leap!” said the father. “We leap,” said the ten. “So they laughed and they leaped in the deep green glen.” The final spread brings everyone together for a final count and find.


Never Kick a Ghost and Other Silly Chillers by Judy Sierra, pictures by Pascale Constantin, Harper, July, 2011. Ages 5 and up

An easy-to-read compendium of short shivery tales, rhymes and jokey epitaphs from award winning folklorist and poet, Judy Sierra.

Go to the stacks for her classic, The House that Drac Built (HMH, 1998) illustrated by Will Hillenbrand.



What’s in the Witch’s Kitchen? written and illustrated by Nick Sharratt, Candlewick, July, 2011. Ages 4 and up.

A lift-the-flap trick or treat, asks readers if something nice or something icky lurks behind the cupboard door, or in the bowl, or in the toaster. Pull the flap to the right, it could be “crunchy hot toast.” Pull it to the left, ”A grumpy, burnt ghost.”


3 Responses to “The Not-So-Scary Halloween”

  1. Sharon Says:

    I work in a Jr Hi library 7th and 8th grade. I do a “Library At Lunch.” The kids bring their lunch to the library and I do different things with them. In October I do The Tailypo. It used to scare my kids to death when they were little. The Jr Hi kids like the telling of it. I have it on tape- and the women’s voice is wonderful.
    You should try it.

  2. librariancheryl Says:

    Thank you for this list. We can never have enough scary stories in our library!

  3. rebecca Says:

    Don’t forget about Lorna Balian’s ‘Humbug Witch’.