Get into the Halloween spirit and have some family reading time with these spooky books that will be exciting for the whole family to read. These recommendations are for a wide age range of children, but all are something fun to read aloud on a spooky evening.
Note: Not all kids will love reading scary books! Sometimes it can be helpful to read reviews or to read a book before sharing it with your kids. While my 7-year-old loves anything we read together, my 9-year-old would rather read anything else. All books are linked to their Goodreads page, which will take you to loads of reviews to check out before reading.
Do you enjoy reading classics? Check out my list of Classic Books to Read This Halloween.
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Exciting Halloween Books to Read as a Family
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Whimsical and a little creepy, The Graveyard Book is a story about Nobody Owens, who not only lives in a graveyard but is being raised by the ghosts in that graveyard. With Gaiman’s rich writing, this story is bound to be a family favourite. For younger readers, Nobody (“Bod”) may have a bit of a scary backstory, but the story is still unique and spellbinding.
Rise of the Balloon Goons (The Notebook of Doom, #1) by Troy Cummings
A story about Alexander, a new boy in town, and his interactions with various monsters around town. With monsters that are more silly than scary, this book is sure to entrance your child who may be new to reading. This is the first book in a long series and a Branches book, which is perfect for young readers. Opening line: “Once there was a pile of bones.“
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Maybe you’ve seen the wonderful movie based on this book, but even if you have, you have to give the book a read. Coraline is wonderfully creepy and engaging, with images that will stick in your head and maybe make you want to explore your own home a little more thoroughly. This has a much different feel from The Graveyard Book, but with Gaiman’s beautiful writing, it still has his usual charm.
The Witches by Roald Dahl
When you read the synopsis for The Witches by beloved children’s author Roald Dahl, you might think there’s no way this book is suitable for kids: ” … there’s nothing a witch loathes quite as much as children and she’ll wield all kinds of terrifying powers to get rid of them.” However, Dahl writes with such wit and charm that you won’t help but laugh your way through this spooky read. With the recent obsession with all things witches, this is definitely one way to fulfill the appetite.
A Tale Dark & Grimm (A Tale Dark & Grimm, #1) by Adam Gidwitz
This is the story of Hansel and Gretel and their adventures through various fairytales. It might not be classified specifically as a creepy or scary book, but the quirky and mischievous children have a bit of Halloween charm to them. However, when you think of fairytales, think of the original Grimm fairytales, not the Disney ones. There is definitely blood and gore in this book, so be warned!
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
When you start to read A Monster Calls, you will definitely get a scary story kind of vibe, but by the end, you’ll realize how a beautiful story with a monster can be. This book is stunningly illustrated and the perfect read-aloud book for a family. It’s sad, but charming, and has a message about death that will hit hard for adults and children alike.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Scary Stories, #1) by Alvin Schwartz
This series is definitely not for the faint of heart. It is morbid and scary and will have you looking in your closet and under the bed — and only part of that will be because of the stories, the other part will be because of the truly horrifying illustrations. This is not a book for your toddlers or younger children, but older kids who might want to tap into the nostalgia of what might have scared their parents when they were young. Traditional ghost stories and folklore fill the pages and you might want to leave the light on when you read!
The Haunted House Next Door (Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol, #1) by Andrés Miedoso
Just like The Notebook of Doom, this is another fun series about a new kid in town. Andrés moves into his new home with his family and all is well until he meets his neighbour, Desmond, who is a ghost hunter. Based on the title, my 9-year-old actually hid the book so we couldn’t read it, but I unearthed it and read it with my 7-year-old who LOVED it. There are ghosts, but nothing that should ruin your night. It is also part of a long series of Andrés’ and Desmond’s ghostly adventures.
Small Spaces (Small Spaces, #1) by Katherine Arden
This is the story of Ollie, who recently experienced the loss of her parents. She encounters a woman who is about to throw a book into a river and, book lover that she is, Ollie rescues the book, brings it home, and starts to read. This book might not be super spooky, but Arden’s stunning writing puts forth an eerie atmosphere that might give you chills. Like A Monster Calls, this story will bring forth emotions, but also enchant you with an otherwordly charm.
Have you read any of the books on this list? What are some scary books you like to read with your kids during Halloween? I’d love to get more recommendations!