Little Blue Truck Halloween
By Alice Schertle Illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Tiny tots will love this introduction to Halloween stories featuring their favourite board book buddy, Little blue truck! If your child is already in love with Little Blue Truck (a super fun baby/toddler friendly board book for story time with colourful and lively illustrations) this would be a great way to introduce new literary concepts, slightly spooky elements for very sensitive readers. It’s a gentle approach to Halloween iconography using familiar characters. A great interactive family read with lift-the-flap action and really sweet artwork. Just a touch of spooky, mostly friendly, cheerful, and gentle atmosphere in each of the illustrations.
By Blair Thornburgh Illustrated by Scott Campbell
Great introduction to spooky illustrations via an educational and fun read on health and safety. Although not necessarily horror or halloween related, this book is a great way to introduce kids to the human body and skeletons. It’s interactive and thus very accessible for toddlers and early elementary. The illustrations and text are dynamic and engaging. Features dia de los muertos inspired illustrations, slightly scary pictures, and has excellent call and response prompts for reading aloud.
Ten Timid Ghosts
By Jennifer O’Connell
This short read is an instant favourite for little ones! A classic counting book in a haunted house setting, it’s an interactive read for family storytime. The illustrations encourage children to pay close attention, look for details, and count all the characters. Great opportunities to ask children what they see in each picture in addition to counting. The repetition is perfect and eventually children will begin to memorize the pages, making it a great way to introduce reading concepts. This one may get a little bit old for adults after a few rereads, hahaha, but is well loved by every child who reads it!
By Anne Marie Pace, Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
The book series that spawned the popular children’s animated musical series on disney and subsequent merchandise. Very cleverly illustrated with interesting stories for toddlers to kindergarten age groups. Vampirina is a little vampire learning to explore her passions, interests, and find her place in the world. The books and television series explore a lot of themes about being different, accepting others, exploring what makes each of us unique, and about why it’s great to just “be yourself.” It also cleverly works in traditional movie monsters and literary supernatural figures throughout each tale, making it a delightful introduction to the world of classic Horror. (I highly recommend the Vampirina at the Beach book! Super fun monster surfing party is really clever)
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
By Linda Williams Illustrated by Megan Lloyd
This one is perfect year round, but especially magical in the autumn months. A wonderful story about facing, accepting, and conquering your fears. It’s great for family reading time but a wonderful early-reader for kindergarten/first grade as well. Great reinforcement for a kid who needs a little encouragement. The story lends is an interactive reading experience, and kids will love pointing out the scary things sneaking up on the Little Old Lady and shouting that they’re not afraid. It was one of my favourite reads as a child, and remains one of my top read aloud choices for the nieces, nephews, and my friends kiddos!
At the Old Haunted House
By Helen Ketteman and Illustrated by Nate Wragg
A lilting, rhythmic and interactive read. A nice introduction to poetry via familiar story-poem “Over in the Meadow.” Follow some trick or treaters as they meet the inhabitants of a nearby haunted house. It’s great for a call and response style family reading time with its dynamic text sound effects and dialogue. The illustrations are very detailed and there’s something new to notice on each subsequent read! It’s great to pause on each page and really observe all the action, or ask little ones to count the different picture elements (How many cats? How many leaves do you see? Where are the monsters? What else do you see in this scene?)
By Patricia Coombs
Previously out of print and recently republished, this series is more whimsical and magical, rather than scary or terrifying. It’s perfect for sensitive readers who want to explore the supernatural, but aren’t quite ready for things that go bump in the night. Each book is full of the most charming illustrations of Dorrie and her fellow quirky friends. The Dorrie series explores topics such as exploring and learning, making mistakes, being brave, growing up, etc making it perfect for all ages. These stories are a little longer than your typical picture book, but make for wonderful family story time reads and later on are perfect for early elementary school independent readers.
The Vampire Bunny
(Bunnicula and Friends #1)
By James Howe Illustrated by Jeff Mack
You honestly just can’t go wrong with a James Howe book! An abridged retelling of the original Bunnicula series in a kiddo-friendly format. Perfect for kids who want a little bit of scary and are just starting to read, but perhaps too timid for the full-on bunnicula experience. It’s full of charming illustrations and wonderful animals, and is a very gentle, friendly introduction to this beloved cast of characters. Might be a little spooky for super small ones and may need some reassurance that their pets aren’t vampires lol. Great for the kid who loves their pets and stories with animals.
Lost Gatos Black on Halloween
By Marisa Montes and Illustrated by Yuyi Morales
An own-voices dia de los muertos themed halloween read. A spooky read aloud with dynamic text and a great entry for your bilingual bookshelf (don’t worry, non-native spanish speakers can find a glossary and pronunciation key in the back!) Wander through a village on halloween eve as all the spooky townsfolk gather for a party. The village inhabitants might be scary skeletons, ghosts, and witches, but nothing is as scary as the surprise guests who show up at their halloween shindig!
By Marjorie Dennis Murray Illustrated by Brandon Dorman
This one has some seriously spooky, lush illustrations and might be a little bit much on the visuals for tiny ones. It’s got a full cast of characters from Zombies to Monsters to Mummies and Vampires, making it the perfect segue into classic horror literature as children grow. The artwork is stunning and detailed and colourful, but probably too creepy for very sensitive kids. Perfect for those kids who aren’t squeamish or nightmare prone. Start with another gentler picture book if they’ve got overactive imaginations. This would be the next step after Los Gatos Black on Halloween!
More kid-friendly recommendations coming soon!
By Ellen Avigliano
Instagram: @thejackalopes.warren and @imaginariumarts