Since it’s storming mightily outside at the moment, I figured I should write another spooooky blog post, since the storm is spooky…and loud. Last week as I was setting up a children’s book display of autumn/Halloween books, I was inspired to write this post listing five of my favorite spooky children’s books. I actually found some of these at the library while setting up my display, and they gave me a feeling of nostalgia. Most of these books my family read over and over again when I was young. And now we continue to read them to nieces and nephews.
1. It’s Halloween, by Jack Prelutsky
I have never actually seen the physical copy of this story/poetry book, but–growing up–we did have a cassette tape of it which we wore out each Halloween. Listening to it was a lot more fun than reading it would have been, considering that most of the poems in it are sung. The one we looked forward to the most was “Countdown,” which goes “There are ten ghosts in the pantry; there are nine upon the stairs; there are eight ghosts in the attic,” and so on. You can just imagine the fun we had trying to hide from all the imaginary ghosts.
I actually found a YouTube video of the book. The photos are strange, but–other than that–it’s the same as what I grew up with.
2. In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories, by Alvin Schwartz
If you’ve read this story book, then you’ll probably remember it as the book where “Jenny’s head fell off.” There’s a story called “The Green Ribbon” which is about a girl who wears a green ribbon for her entire life which–we find out at the end–is meant to keep her head on her shoulders. Yes, it’s quite a gruesome thought, but my siblings and I just loved it. It is quite a memorable story. The others stories weren’t quite so horrific. For example, there’s one story where a boy encounters several men with shockingly long teeth. It’s pretty intense…at least for kids. But I enjoy it, too. 🙂
3. The Berenstain Bears and The Spooky Old Tree, by Stan and Jan Berenstain
This is, by far, the least spooky of these five books, but it is a favorite. It’s a Berenstain Bears book–how scary could it be? The story begins with three little bears go into a spooky old tree with a stick, a rope, and a flashlight. The story ends with them running out of the tree after seeing a giant bear. And they no longer have their supplies. Instead, all three of them have the shivers.
It never occurred to me as a child that the three bears were running away from another bear. The bear looks nothing like them. It looks like an actual bear. It’s like the difference between Goofy and Pluto, I guess. But anyway, this story is great to read with kids. It has a lot of repetition, so that it’s easy for the kids to participate. So fun!
4. A Big, Spooky House, by Donna Washington
I didn’t read this myself as a child, but my niece and nephews have greatly enjoyed it. The story is about a big, strong (and conceited) man who goes into a haunted house. He is then greeted by a black cat in the fireplace who is eating fiery coals. At first, the man is not scared, but then cats keep appearing–each one larger than the previous one. And they all ask the same question: “Will you be here when John gets hear?” Eventually, the man is scared and runs away. The last page shows a big cat in the fire place who kind of looks afraid of something. Then, in the mirror above him, you can see what he’s afraid of–a gigantic cat, bigger than any of the others.
Honestly, I am super confused by this story. Who is John? Was John the biggest cat,? Who knows. But this book is a fun read. Like the last book, there’s a lot of repetition for kids to participate.
5. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, by Alvin Schwartz
Many of you have probably heard of this series, considering that they’re listed as number seven on the Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books from 2000 to 2009. This is probably because some of the stories are pretty gruesome for children and the drawings are pretty terrifying. I actually chose to post the cover for the second book because the other cover is quite disturbing. But…we enjoyed them as kids. They’re definitely not for young kids, or the faint of heart, but they’re pretty spooky. Even as teenagers/adults, we were scared of the story about Harold the Scarecrow. You can probably assume what happens in that one.
There are other books I could list, but these are the best for Halloween reading. Do you all have any favorite spooky stories? I’d love to know! 🙂