Here I am, all dolled up in my very first Halloween costume:
If this picture is any indication, I wasn’t all that into Halloween that year (you wouldn’t be, either, if your introduction to Halloween included that horrifyingly scary Mickey Mouse costume).
But, as I got a little older, I became a huge fan of Halloween.
Halloween was a big deal in my house. Normally, my brother and I were allowed only one item of candy per week, which was officially dubbed “Saturday Candy.” Halloween was the one exception. My mom would take us trick-or-treating for hours (while Dad manned the door at home). We would dump our haul on the living-room floor and gorge ourselves on as much as we wanted. Candy, candy, candy, candy, CANDY!!!
Back then, kids’ Halloween costumes were (unintentionally) terrifying. But I loved them. They consisted of a pliable plastic outfit with a picture on the chest and a hard plastic mask with tiny eyeholes secured by an elastic band:
In addition to the janky costumes and the piles of candy, I loved Halloween for its theme books! Holiday books are great, great, great! I am not (and never was) a huge fan of the truly scary, but I can get behind the creepy and spooky.
In honor of this delightful day, here are five of my childhood favorites:
The Witches is not a book that has to be enjoyed exclusively around Halloween, but it’s definitely Halloween appropriate.
Roald Dahl is the master of wicked/creepy fun. And witches are quintessentially Halloween.
The Witches teaches us that there are disguised witches all around us. They hide their gross bald heads in “first-class wigs” and stuff their disgusting feet into normal shoes.
Look around (and beware!):
[A witch] might even – and this will make you jump – she might even be your lovely school-teacher who is reading these words to you at this very moment. Look carefully at that teacher. Perhaps she is smiling to you at the absurdity of such a suggestion. Don’t let that put you off. It could be part of her cleverness
I am not, of course, telling you for one second that your teacher actually is a witch. All I am saying is that she might be one. It is most unlikely. But–here comes the big “but”–not impossible.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Charles M. Schulz
Nothing says Halloween like this:
There are a billion kids’ books based on this classic. There is this one that comes with awesome reusable stickers. Or this one with sound and music. But a lot of them were made after Schulz passed away, so you have to be careful to find one that has the original drawings, like this 35th anniversary edition:
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (along with More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones) are super creepy, short tales perfect for Halloween.
This book series (along with another of my childhood faves, Goosebumps) is on the lists of the 100 most frequently banned and challenged books from 1990-1999 and from 2000-2009. But it’s in good company—Harry Potter, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Bluest Eye, and A Wrinkle in Time are all also on the lists. Seems like a pretty good to-read list to me!
For a taste of these scary stories , check out some of the audiobook (the first tale, “The Big Toe,” is only about three minutes long):
I’ve talked about my love of the Berenstain Bears before (here). This is one of the first Berenstain Bears books we had. This book is from the era before Stan & Jan really got into a groove (with the beginning rhymes and such), but it’s still a great one.
Nowadays, there are close to one billion Berenstain Bears Halloween books, including:
- The Berenstain Bears Trick or Treat
- The Berenstain Bears and the Ghost of the Forest
- The Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin (more of a Thanksgiving story really, but it works in a pinch)
- The Berenstain Bears Go on a Ghost Walk
- The Berenstain Bears and the Haunted House
And (BONUS!) a lot of the newer books, like The Berenstain Bears Trick or Treat, have been adapted into cartoons:
Gotta love those bears.
In Arthur’s Halloween, Arthur is a little creeped-out by Halloween. And he is not particularly excited about having to take his sister, D.W., trick-or-treating . . . especially because D.W. insists on going to all the houses, even the scary house at the end of the street.
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Now, go, read some spooky, fun Halloween books, go trick-or-treating, and have a safe and wonderful Halloween!
👻 Happy Halloween!!! 🎃