Halloween was never a favorite holiday of mine . . . until recently. My family didn’t really celebrate it growing up, and I’ve always steered clear of anything too spooky or gory. But our son absolutely LOVES Halloween; from the costumes to the Jack-o’-lanterns to the bats . . . and his enthusiasm has rubbed off on me over the past few years. Although we still keep the witches and skeletons and blood far, far away . . . our whole family now loves and embraces spiders, pumpkins, bats (hey, they pollinate cocoa beans . . . what can I say?), telling spooky ghost stories, and . . . you guessed it . . . reading Halloween-themed BOOKS, of course.
Seasonal reading is one of our family’s favorite activities. Nothing celebrates a season or holiday quite as intentionally, effortlessly, and affordably as cozying up with your kiddos over the pages of a beautifully illustrated book that has been steeped in the sensory richness of a hallowed time of year.
Since our son was born, we have checked out well over fifty pumpkin, bat, and Halloween-themed books from our amazing library (the one we recently left behind in the city). We have weeded through the clutter, and have selected our very favorites to share with you today! I’m even including a “cross-curricular” / nonfiction section to use as, or with a Homeschool Halloween-Science Unit Study.
So, make some Hot Apple Cider or Pumpkin-Spiced Hot Cocoa, and cuddle up with a few of these bright or spooky books to celebrate Halloween with your kiddos!
Make our Super Simple Homemade Hot Apple Cider: In a pot on stove, or in a crockpot, place: 2 cinnamon sticks, 6 cloves, and half a gallon of unfiltered apple juice (the browner the better). For extra spicy Hot Apple Cider, you can add a whole star anise, a few whole allspice berries, and/or a few red hot candies (my mom’s trick). On stovetop: bring mixture just to a boil, then reduce to low, cover, and simmer for at least an hour and up to three. In a Crockpot: turn on low and heat for at least three hours. Remove or strain out the spice and cheers! Serves a family of 5.
PUMPKIN & HALLOWEEN FICTION; our Top-Picks by age
~Baby Boo Pumpkins (under 3)~
- Pumpkin Moonshine by Tasha Tudor (an absolute BEAUTY and one of our two TOP PICKS for this age category)
- Goblin Story from Little Bear’s Visit by Else Homelund Minarik (one of our family’s all-time favorite stories and our second TOP PICK for this age category. It is just slightly spooky . . . the perfect first “scary” story for a very young child. Both of our children LOVE this little tale, and each had it practically memorized before they even turned two years old! Bust out your best goblin voice for this charming read-aloud.)
Illustrations above by Maurice Sendak from Little Bear’s Visit
- Spooky Pookie by Sandra Boynton (you gotta love the humor of Sandra Boynton . . . this one is sure to be a hit!)
- The Monster at the End of This Book (a beloved family favorite)
- Stellaluna by Janell Cannon (the artistry is truly beautiful, and the story unique and captivating)
~Sugar Pie Pumpkins (age 3-6)~
- Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell (an absolute TREASURE in our family and our TOP PICK for this age category! The story and illustrations are truly beautiful, and fully capture both the miracle of a pumpkin’s life cycle as well as the magic and mystery of Halloween.)
Illustrations above by Will Hubbell
- Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White (a fun story that celebrates gardening, good eating habits, cooking, Halloween, and friendship.)
- Jenny’s Moonlight Adventure, by Esther Averill ( a great, non-spooky, but Halloween-themed read-aloud chapter book)
~Casper Pumpkins (age 6-9)~
- The Best Halloween Ever by Barbara Robinson (a very fun sequel to the amazing and hilarious The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, this is a quick chapter book loaded with slightly spooky and mischevious fun. Our son has been listening to the audiobook version nonstop this week, and we are giving it our TOP PICK for this age category. Note: you can read this before The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, which is a must-read for the Christmas season.)
- Bunnicula by James Howe (a fairly toothless introduction to vampires)
- The Boxcar Children Series by Gertrude Chandler Warner
*Check out my ghost-themed Boxcar Book recommendations here:
*Or try this Spooktacular Trio:
~Warty Goblin Pumpkins (age 9-12)~
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (although it may not immediately seem like a good choice for Halloween, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is full of mischief as well as plenty of spooky adventures! From graveyards, frightful nights, to bat infested caves . . . Tom Sawyer gets our TOP PICK for a spooky Halloween-worthy read-aloud for this age group!
*The above illustrations are by Donald McKay from our amazing vintage copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer that is sadly out of print. If you want this version, which is truly beautiful, you can often find a gently used copy on Thriftbooks or Ebay.
- Matilda by Roald Dahl (a soft-pedaled, and beloved witch story classic)
~Knucklehead Pumpkins (age 12+)~
- And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (not only is this book my TOP PICK for this age category, but it’s in my top five favorite books of all time! Also, Middle School and High School students LOVE this book. I took three classes of 8th graders through this novel the weeks before Halloween two years in a row, and it was the highlight of the year for each class. Check out my full novel classroom or Homeschool unit here!)
- The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
CROSS-CURRICULAR / NONFICTION HALLOWEEN; our Top-Picks by age group
~Baby Boo Pumpkins (under 3)~
- Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jean Titherington (an exquisitely beautiful book . . . the simple words and realistic yet artistic chalk illustrations make this an amazing read to little absorbent minds!)
- Pumpkins by Ken Robbins (although perhaps more humble than the other books on this list, THIS was the book that our son asked for over and over and over again when he was two and three, and is responsible for the spark that kindled his deep and true love for pumpkins and all things Halloween.)
~Sugar Pie Pumpkins & Casper Pumpkins (age 3-9)~
- The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons (very fun, very comprehensive, and altogether a fabulous cross-curricular, enjoyable educational read for Halloween)
- Bats by Gail Gibbons (everything you could ever hope to know about bats . . . kind of mind-blowing actyally)
- How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara (great inspiration for a Science/Math Homeschool activity of counting pumpkin seeds)
- How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow? by Wendell Minor (the cover doesn’t do it justice . . . such LOVELY illustrations . . . vibrant and rich just like the season!) This book is as absurd as it is beautiful; it’s full of larger-than-life pumpkins fullfiling odd roles such as filling in for a president at Mount Rushmore. I included it in the cross-curricular category because it takes you along a fun journey to some famous destinations.
HAPPY READING! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
Thanks for reading!
Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~