I have a love/hate relationship with Halloween. Love the decorations, the thrill of deciding on and putting together costumes, the chatting with neighbors as we trick or treat. Hate the extreme sugar rush my kids come home from school with, come home from trick or treating with, and the fights over how much candy they can have each and every day after.
One way to alleviate a bit of the candy coma is by treating your children with books, and encouraging family (like those spoil-them-rotten grandparents!) to do the same. We typically get our kids a Halloween book each fall, or we’ll check out a stack from the library. Over the years, we’ve built a nice collection without ever spending more than $10-15 each October. It’s fun to read one or two each night in the week leading up, and sometimes for days after if we’re still in the spirit.
Books are a way to extend enjoyment of this holiday in a way that doesn’t give kids cavities.
Here are some Halloween-inspired book suggestions. Shout out to our Facebook followers who contributed to this post with all their wonderful suggestions. I love the community of parents/caregivers we’re building through social media! Did we miss a family favorite? Leave us a comment!
Halloween Board Books
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson. One of my very favorite children’s authors, perfect for those kids who love books that rhyme. Teaches a nice little lesson in generosity and inclusion, too!
Five Little Pumpkins by Dan Yaccarino. This is a great book for babies and toddlers because you can read it or sing it along with the classic nursery rhyme. A key early literacy skill.
Bright Baby Touch & Feel Spooky by Roger Priddy. Babies can enjoy the touch and feel part of this book and the simple (not over-stimulating illustrations). For toddlers, I love that it teaches Halloween vocabulary in a fun, easy way. I can’t tell you how many times I read this one to my young children! For those looking for a first Halloween gift, this is the perfect board book. (Honestly, I LOVE all the Priddy books for vocabulary development.)
Halloween Picture Books
The Hallo-wiener by Dav Pilkey. I truly look forward to Halloween each year in part because I get to read this book to my kids. Another Halloween book with a great message, this one is about bullying. Just another reason to love Dav Pilkey (author of the Dog Man books).
Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds. This is a Caldecott Award winner and teacher read-aloud favorite. A perfect lesson in what happens when you get a bit too greedy (a timely message at Halloween when candy is oh so tempting!)
The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin by Joe Toiano. I’m just astounded by the genius of this author for creating this remarkable way of teaching kids to appreciate and love each other for our many differences. If Spookley is a hit, definitely buy the Thanksgiving Spookley book, too. I cry every year when we read it.
Halloween-Inspired Chapter Books
The Witches by Roald Dahl. True story: Our mom read this book out loud to her middle school class every year of her 20+ teaching career. Not a Halloween book per se, it’s such a fun read and a classic Roald Dahl.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz. Not for the easily frightened, but perfect for older children who delight in all the spookiness of Halloween.
And Halloween-inspired titles from some of our favorite chapter book series, like Nate the Great and the Halloween Hunt, A to Z Mysteries: The Haunted Hotel, Magic Tree House: Haunted Castle on Hallow’s Eve, and My Weird School Halloween Box Set.
Other Halloween Literacy Ideas
Donate candy in exchange for a new book. I know lots of families who have their child select their favorite 10-15 pieces of candy, and then turn the rest over for the chance to pick a new toy. Instead, consider handing over a gift card to the local bookstore or Amazon for book browsing instead! This not only gets rid of more candy in your house, but it also sends a message to your child that books are treasured gifts. Don’t forget: let them choose their own books!
If reading about fall or Halloween doesn’t appeal to your children, consider getting a book related to their costume this year. It’ll be a fun memento from the holiday, and you may get more bang for your buck since it won’t be so seasonal. For example, pick up a Star Wars book if your child is going as Yoda, or a princess book if your child is going as Cinderella. Most popular character costume choices (like Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig, Sponge Bob) have a Halloween title or two, if you do want to stick with the holiday theme.
Sort your candy! Believe it or not, reading all those candy names is a way to encourage your children to read without them even realizing it (’tis the season for being sneaky!). If that’s too much of a challenge, then sort by the first letter of the candy’s name. Toddlers and preschoolers can sort by color or shape. If candy name is not enough of a challenge, have them sort by ingredients. They’ll have to read the ingredient labels to do this (chocolate pile, caramel pile, etc.) Bonus: All this sorting will make it easier to steal all their Reese’s when they’re in bed.
If sorting was a hit, then in the days following Halloween, make a chart to track your candy amounts and eating progress. It’ll make setting limits on how much they can have each day visually easier, too. This hits on both literacy and math skills; win, win. I bought huge graph paper for a work project years ago and I’m always amazed at how much use I’ve gotten out of it with my kids.
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.