In honor of the upcoming holiday, we’ve put together a list of Halloween-themed books for young readers of all ages and horror thresholds—from a picture book about a timid ghost, to a middle grade primer on the history of witches, an anthology of YA vampire stories, and many more.
Andrea Pfeiffer, illus. by Erin Barker. Blue Manatee, Oct. 6 $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-936669-91-2. Ages 3–5.
The challenges of new parenthood bubble up out of the laboratory after a scientist couple decides to “make a monster” one stormy night. Pfeiffer’s rhyming text and Barker’s comical images create a light and silly tone.
Shirley Parenteau, illus. by David Walker. Candlewick, July 14 $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5362-0837-5. Ages 2–5.
These seasoned collaborators treat their feisty bear characters—first introduced in Bears on Chairs—to a Halloween adventure in their latest story touting the benefits of cooperation.
Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet, illus. by Nick East. Little, Brown, July 28 $17.99 ISBN 978-0-316-42755-5. Ages 4–8.
When the creepy clan starts planning the scariest Halloween party ever, Christopher Pumpkin's cheerful ideas for décor and treats cause a bit of a stir.
Ruth Paul. HarperCollins, July 14 $10.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-286956-2. Ages 4–8.
On Halloween, when Little Monster lifts the lid of a cookie tin, seven holiday-themed cookies spring to life and escape out the front door. A sprightly holiday caper.
Susan Eaddy, illus. by Lucy Fleming. HarperCollins, July 14 $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-269167-5. Ages 4–8.
With Halloween approaching, a child gives her imagination full reign as she ponders possible self-fashioned costumes. For inspiration, she looks no further than her bedroom, chock-a-block with stuffed animals that jump-start her creativity.
Frankenstein Doesn’t Wear Earmuffs!
John Loren. HarperCollins, July 14 $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-294114-5. Ages 4–8.
Assembling a Frankenstein’s monster costume and preparing to set out trick-or-treating, a boy imagines he is the towering, foreboding figure of lore, but his father interrupts his reverie: “Not so fast there, Frankenstein./ Those clouds are looking iffy./ So take my old galoshes here;/ they’re waterproof and spiffy.” Loren doesn’t miss a beat in his picture book debut.
Kim Norman, illus. by Jay Fleck. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, July 14 $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-31213-8. Ages 3–6.
Favorite children’s counting song “The Ants Go Marching” gets a sweetly spooky makeover in this vibrant Halloween rendition. In addition to showcasing numbers one through 10 and a solid array of monsters, Norman’s bouncy text introduces a colorful variety of ambulatory verbs.
Flavia Z. Drago. Candlewick, July 14 $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1114-6. Ages 3–7.
Mexican artist Drago’s picture book debut offers a gentle friendship tale and folk-art-style, textural mixed-media pictures. Gustavo, an ingenuous sheeted ghost who loves playing the violin, is so excruciatingly shy that “making friends was terrifying. Gustavo had never dared to speak to any of the other monsters.”
Frank Tupta, illus. by Kyle Beckett. Amazon/Two Lions, July 21 $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5420-0543-2. Ages 3–7.
As Tupta’s debut picture book opens, Ghost Town is suddenly bustling. The night crew springs into action, including werewolf loggers, a Frankenstein’s monster, and witches, all driving construction vehicles.
Kelly Leigh Miller. Simon & Schuster, July 21 $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5344-5210-7. Ages 4–8.
Vampires—they’re just like humans! At least that’s the case in Miller’s comics-style picture book about young Dracula losing his first fang.
José Carlos Andrés, illus. by Gómez. NubeOcho, Sept. 1 $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-84-17673-85-7. Ages 4–8.
A redheaded girl with pigtails walks down the cobblestone streets of Transylvania. Suddenly accosted by a “BIG SHADOWY SHADOW!” she meets “a very tiny little vampire” with a very big problem: he’s going to fail his vampire test if he doesn’t “give zomeone zee zcare of zeir livez.”
It’s Halloween, Little Monster
Hellen Ketteman, illus. by Bonnie Leick. Two Lions, July 7 $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5420-9208-1. Ages 3–7.
The creators of the Little Monster series send the title character trick-or-treating on his first Halloween in this rhyming tale. Much of the humor derives from Leick’s jaunty watercolors, in which paws, clawed feet, and fangs protrude from the already outlandish young monsters’ elaborate costumes.
The Little Ghost Who Lost Her Boo!
Elaine Bickell, illus. by Raymond McGrath. Philomel, Aug. 18 $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-593-20215-9. Ages 4–8.
After losing her “boo” when trying to engage in a scare, Little Ghost asks for assistance from animals whose utterances sound auspiciously familiar. Bickell underscores the ghost’s hopefulness and determination before entreating readers’ help to bring this gentle friendship story to an uplifting close.
The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt
Riel Nason, illus. by Byron Eggenschwiler. Tundra, Sept. 1 $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7352-6447-2. Ages 3–7.
It’s not easy to do ghostly things when you’re made of heavy patchwork fabric layers instead of a light-as-air sheet. Such is the plight of the little ghost in this gentle tale.
Nicola Killen. S&S/Wiseman, July 21 $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5344-6696-8. Ages 4–8.
Ollie, who previously starred in The Little Reindeer and The Little Rabbit, returns in a cat costume for an autumn adventure. Lighthearted action blended with gentle suspense will keep readers on Ollie’s trail.
Cale Atkinson. Doubleday, Aug. 4 $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-593-12280-8. Ages 3–7.
Readers who have completed Atkinson’s previous introductory “course”—last year’s Unicorns 101—or anyone else intrigued by monsters can pick up some knowledge from this tongue-in-cheek breakdown of what the creepy creatures are really like.
Laura Gehl, illus. by MacKenzie Haley. Page Street Kids, July 21 $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-62414-940-5. Ages 4–8.
This sweet tale of three BFFs sharing secrets at a birthday sleepover on a night with a full moon takes on a bit of a Halloween vibe. As the full moon rises that night, Willa nearly backs out, worrying that her friends will be afraid of her when they find out she’s a werewolf.
Ed Masessa, illus. by Nate Wragg. Cartwheel, July 7 $6.99 paper (32p) ISBN 978-1-338-56332-0. Ages 3–5.
After “moonbeam magic lights a spark,” a front porch jack-o’-lantern leaps to life and dashes to a field filled with pumpkins that, likewise suddenly animated, begin to cavort gleefully. Spunky rhymed couplets by Masessa and luminescent cartoons by Wragg spotlight their boisterous antics.
Teresa Bateman, illus. by Stephanie Fizer Coleman. Charlesbridge, Aug. 4 $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58089-681-8. Ages 3–7.
A class field trip to the local pumpkin patch has an unexpected—and tasty—ending in this seasonal romp.
Marcus Ewert, illus. by Susie Ghahremani. Bloomsbury, July 7 $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-68119-791-3. Ages 3–6.
This winsomely warped story stars Clarissa, an “adorable” but miserable cottage. Her father is a haunted castle, and her mother is a witch’s hut, but “unlike both her parents,/ Clarissa wasn’t host/ to anybody scary—/ not even one wan ghost!”
Sue Ganz-Schmitt, illus. by Luke Flowers. Amazon/Two Lions, Oct. 1 $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5420-0533-3. Ages 4–8.
A closed-minded monster begins to broaden his perspective as a group of familiar Halloween characters address otherness and tolerance.
Hannah Barnaby, illus. by Anne Wilsdorf. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July 14 $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-328-76680-9. Ages 4–7.
Barnaby’s gently rhythmic picture book imparts the importance of open-mindedness and inclusion in a supernatural-tinged tale about a child’s sleepover party.
A Unicorn Named Sparkle and the Pumpkin Monster
Amy Young. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, July 14 $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-30850-6. Ages 2–6.
In Young’s fourth tale starring comically squat pet unicorn Sparkle, he and child Lucy visit a pumpkin farm.
We’re Going on a Goon Hunt: A Petrifying Parody
Michael Rex. Putnam, Aug. 18 $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-9848-1362-6. Ages 3–5.
Echoing the scheme and cadence of the classic children’s song, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” Rex’s latest sassy send-up brings back the title character of his Goodnight Goon, as a costume-clad adult and kids set out to find the amiable green monster on Halloween night.
Mary Hogan Wilcox, illus. by Lynn Munsinger. Charlesbridge, Aug. 4 $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-62354-118-7. Ages 2–5.
Fans of the familiar participatory rhyme will want to jump right into the fun of this comforting Halloween version.
Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch
Julie Abe, illus. by Shan Jiang. Little, Brown, Aug. 4 $16.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-316-49388-8. Ages 8–12.
Apprentice Witch Evalithimus Evergreen, 12, is prepared to embark on the quest that will grant her Novice Witch status, the first phase to following in her Grand Master mother’s footsteps. In this charming debut, Abe centers Eva’s ingenuity, resilience, and adaptability, as well as the strength of friendship. The book received a starred review from PW.
The Little Witch’s Book of Spells
Ariel Kusby, illus. by Olga Baumert. Chronicle, Aug. 25 $16.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-4521-8361-9. Ages 8–12.
In a meditative spell book for budding witches, Kusby asserts that readers need not “possess the power to make objects fly or to read minds” to engage with witchcraft. Instead, the ways of witches concern expressions of individuality, personal self-reflection, and the practice of kindness.
Fleur Bradley, illus. by Xavier Bonet. Viking, Aug. 25 $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-20290-6. Ages 8–12.
When 12-year-old JJ Jacobson’s CEO mother wins a weekend at the haunted Barclay Hotel in Aspen Springs, Colo., paranormal investigation enthusiast JJ convinces her to bring him along. Bradley offers a fast-paced, lightly spooky entrée to mystery fare.
T.C. Shelley. Bloomsbury, Sept. 1 $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-5476-0456-2. Ages 8–12.
In Shelley’s imaginative, immersive debut, Monsterkind is born from a human’s last sigh. Allusions to Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” and considerations about what makes a monster round out this engaging series starter.
Season of the Witch: A Spellbinding History of Witches and Other Magical Folk
Matt Ralphs, illus. by Núria Tamarit. Flying Eye, Aug. 4 $18.95 (80p) ISBN 978-1-912497-71-3. Ages 9–12.
In a light introduction to witchcraft, Ralphs provides readers with an overview of magical practices from the ancient world to the present day, focusing on regions including South Africa, Japan, and Slavic countries. This guide will satisfy younger readers looking for a mix of history and magic.
Thirteens (The Secrets of Eden Eld #1)
Kate Alice Marshall. Viking, Aug. 18 $17.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-593-11702-6. Ages 8–12.
Eleanor Barton, who will turn 13 in a few days, on Halloween, has just moved into Ashford House in picturesque Eden Eld, Ore., to live with her aunt and uncle. Hoping to put her tragic past behind her, Eleanor is determined to ignore the “wrong things” only she can see. This supernatural series starter will keep readers up at night.
Abby Howard. Iron Circus, Oct. 6 $18 (320p) ISBN 978-1-9458-2068-7. Ages 13 and up.
Howard proves herself an expert in the horror genre and the comics format with five suspenseful short stories—diverse in cast, setting, and horrific monsters—based in individual loneliness and lack. Wonderfully terrifying. The book received a starred review from PW.
Interview with the Vixen (Archie Horror #2)
Rebecca Barrow. Scholastic, July 7 $9.99 paper ISBN 978-1-338-56913-1. Ages 14 and up.
This book follows Veronica Lodge, the sophisticated New York City girl from Riverdale, as the Town with Pep is overtaken by an ancient vampire-come-to-life. When Veronica is bitten, she and her squad have to figure out how to get rid of the vampire and turn Riverdale’s residents back to normal.
The Last Halloween: Children (The Last Halloween #1)
Abby Howard. Iron Circus, Oct. 6 $25 paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-9458-2066-3. Ages 13 and up.
On Halloween night, 10-year-old Mona must forego trick-or-treating when her nonbinary parent opts out of chaperoning to contact their late wife at a séance. That night, the mystical Phagocyte, which “protects and preserves the balance between the worlds,” becomes incapacitated, leaving monsters to roam outside their shadow dimension. The book received a starred review from PW.
Secrets of the Witch: An Initiation into Our History and Our Wisdom
Julie Légère and Elsa Whyte, illus. by Laura Pérez. Wide Eyed, Aug. 4 $22.99 (80p) ISBN 978-0-7112-5799-3. Ages 9–14.
The history of witchcraft from antiquity to the modern day unfolds in this artful guide. Readers curious about the broader roots and evolution of witchcraft will find a valuable resource in this elegant and insightful volume.
Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite
Ed. by Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker. Imprint, Sept. 22 $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-23001-0. Ages 12 and up.
In their introduction to this bloodthirsty anthology, Córdova and Parker note that, “despite queer subtext and outstanding nonwhite examples,” the most famous vampires are “predominantly men, white, cisgender, straight, and able-bodied.” This boundary-pushing collection seeks to upend the default with 11 toothsome stories that stake a new claim on old tropes, centering an intersectionally diverse range of protagonists. The book received a starred review from PW. See our feature on the resurgence of YA vampire fiction.