Book Review, Children's Book Activities

It’s Halloween!

Fun and Spooky Halloween stories with activities.

For those who love the spooky magic of Halloween, I have compiled a little list of some great picture books. Some are newly published and some are not. But all contribute to the excitement and spookiness enjoyed at this time of year.  Often kids can become inspired to get creative as All Hallows Eve approaches, whether using a variety of mediums for Halloween art or to write Halloween stories or poems. Its a great time for reading aloud and get kids reading!

In my opinion, these older stories have reasonable word count (up to current popular standards) and still have the ability to engage readers of today!  There are so many second hand book stores with seasonal selections, so make sure to have a peek at their Halloween collection as you may find some literary gems!

So crack those paper spines and read to children! Get children reading!  Get creating!  Halloween is here!

1.   The Bones of Fred McFee.written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Kurt Cyrus


“There’s a skeleton high in our sycamore tree,
High as high can be.
He was hung there by my sister and me.
High in our sycamore tree.

2.  In the Haunted House by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Susan Meddaugh.


“This is the house where the scary ones hide.
Open the door and step softly inside.
An organ is playing a funeral air.
It’s playing and playing, but nobody’s there”

3.  Ghost’s Hour, Spook’s Hour written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Donald Carrick.  Told in the first person this suspenseful story chronicles a boy, having woken in the night, walking through his quiet dark house to discover ghost’s hour, spook’s hour.

“When I woke up it was really dark.
Something went Woooooo outside my window.
‘Don’t be scared,’ I told myself.  ‘It’s just the wind.’  I slid out of bed.”

4.  Scary, Scary Halloween written by Eve Bunting and this time illustrated by Jan Brett.  One year my kids decided to dress up as the characters in this story.  That year we went out trick or treating with a little devil, ghost, witch and a vampire!  I won’t tell you whose point of view the story is written in…it will be a surprise!


“I peer outside, there’s something there
That makes me shiver, spikes my hair.
It must be Halloween.
A skeleton with bones so white
They gleam and glimmer in the night,
Has come for Halloween.

5.  The Haunted House That Jack Built . written by Helaine Becker and illustrated by David Parkins. Jack, in this version is of course a Halloween Jack-O-Lantern!

“This is the ghoul, that scared the ghost,
that sampled the stew,
that cooled in the house that Jack built”

6.  The House That Drac Built written by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand.  Although along the same theme as the previous ‘Jack’ book, this one is quite different because ‘Drac’ built this house! There are some ghoulish creatures that create some mischief in Drac’s house… and then along come some trick or treaters!


“This is the house that Drac built.”
A few more pages and…
“This is the fearsome manticore
that wrestled the werewolf
that chased the cat
that bit the bat
that lived in the house that Drac built.”

7.  By the Light of the Halloween Moon . written by Caroline Stutson and illustrated by Kevin HawkesThis is another story that builds similar to the ‘Jack’ versions but in a unique way.  As a girl hangs her feet over a bridge under a halloween moon some creepy creatures come along and reach for her toe.  They may be in for a surprise!


” A toe!
A lean and gleaming toe
That taps a tune in the dead of night
By the light, by the light
By the silvery light of the Halloween moon!”

8.  Cinderella Skeleton written by Robert D. San Souci and illustrated by David Catrow.  This story is exactly what you may think it is…complete with cruel step-mother and step-sisters, Cinderella meets a witch with a generous wand who helps her get to the Halloween Ball…It is a delightful read!


“Cinderella skeleton
Dwelt in Boneyard Acres near the wood,
third mausoleum on the right,
Decayed, decrepit– what a fright.
On the door a withered wreath
Invited guests to REST IN PEACE.
It was the pride of the neighbourhood.”

9.  At the Old Haunted House written by Helen Ketteman and illustrated by Nate Wragg.  With rhyming text this story works as a song as well and I have both read and sung it to children.


“At the old haunted house in a room with no sun
lived a warty green witch and her wee witchy one.
‘SPELL!’ cried the witch.
‘POOF!’ cried the one.
And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun”

10.  Halloween ABC written by Eve Merriam and illustrated by Lane Smith.  I found this at a second hand book store but I love it!  The poetry for each letter is radiant and inventive pulling you into the mysterious and magical world of Halloween.  Illustrations are a perfect fit and I have used these as examples for Halloween art in the classroom.  Poems vary in length but below I use ‘Gg’ for Ghost, as a sample.



“More gruesome than any groan,
more dreadful than any moan,
most trembling, terrifying sight:
white silence in the dark of night.”

11.  Ghosts!: Ghostly Tales from Folklore written by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Victoria Chess.  Listed as a Level 2 reader with a range for readers from grades 1-3 it is a compilation of several very short stories. They are spooky for sure but fun-you know, what I might call a ‘safe’ scare! Below is an excerpt from the forward in the book and it sets the tone.


“Do you believe in ghosts?
Some people do.
And the stories they tell about them are strange and scary and fun”

12.  In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories written by Alvin Schwartz and illustrations by Dirk Zimmer.   Again, there are seven short engaging stories for emerging readers. Two of my kids’ favourites were called, The Teeth and the Green Ribbon but they are all fun. Below is the forward for the book.


“Most of us like scary stories because we like feeling scared.
When there is no real danger, feeling scared is fun.
The best time for these stories is at night-in front of the fire or in the dark.
Tell them s-l-o-w-l-y and quietly, and everyone with have a good time.”

13.  The last books I’ll list here are actually in a series called,  EEK ! Stories To Make You Shriek-Haunted BikeThe Haunted Bike is written by Dina Anastasio and illustrated by Jerry Smath and is just one of many in the series which was published 1997.  These Easy-to-read stories will inspire new readers to experience these thrilling and creepy stories.


“A bike is just a bike, right?
Right-unless it’s a bike with a mind of its own!
Let Emma tell you her story.   It’s about her new bike
and the new friend that she makes.  There is more to both
of them than meets the eye!”
Others in the series:



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