Spooky stories for your little reader

As colder weather settles in and things go bump in the night, nothing settles a little reader before bedtime like curling up with a good, fun spooky (but not too spooky, of course) book inspired by Halloween. Help your young readers and future trick-or-treaters get into the Halloween spirit by picking up one — or all! — of these spooky children's and young adult book suggestions from local librarians and booksellers.

Rob DiFazio, library director

Dalton Free Public Library

- "Creepy Carrots" by Aaron Reynolds: A spooky picture book that expertly mixes scares with humor.

- "Trapped in the Abandoned Hospital" by Dee Phillips: Part of the "Cold Whispers" series, this book is a great early chapter book for young readers looking for a good scare.

- "Through the Woods" by Emily Carroll: A young adult graphic novel containing five amazingly creepy gothic-style short stories.

Jenney Maloy, youth librarian

The Stockbridge Library

- "Scary, Scary Halloween" by Eve Bunting: A band of trick-or-treaters and a mother cat and her kittens spend a very scary Halloween together. Four pairs of eyes stare from the blackness to watch fearsome creatures trick-or-treat.

- "The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything" by Linda Williams: A little old lady who is not afraid of anything must deal with a pumpkin head, a tall black hat and other spooky objects that follow her through the dark woods trying to scare her.

- "Big Pumpkin" by Erica Silverman: A witch trying to pick a big pumpkin on Halloween discovers the value of cooperation when she gets help from a series of monsters.

- "Room on the Broom" by Julia Donaldson: A witch finds room on her broom for all the animals that ask for a ride, and they repay her kindness by rescuing her from a dragon.

Caitlin Hotaling, children's librarian

Bushnell-Sage Library, Sheffield

- "Carl's Halloween" by Alexandra Day: An almost wordless book that gives the reader a chance to interact with questions for the child being read to.

- "Angelina's Halloween" by Katharine Holabir

- "Halloween Mice!" by Bethany Roberts

- "Los Gatos Black on Halloween" by Marisa Montes: There are Spanish words in the story, as well as rhyming

- "I Spy Spooky Night," photos by Walter Wick, riddles by Jean Marzollo: A really fun book for searching for things whether it's in the riddle or not!

Kirsten Rose, children's librarian

David and Joyce Milne Public Library, Williamstown

- "The Red Shoes and Other Tales" by Metaphrog: A graphic novel retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen classic.

- "The Thirteen Nights of Halloween" by Guy Vasilovich: A Halloween version of the Christmas song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas"

- "The Bones of Fred McFee" by Eve Bunting: Featuring a creepy skeleton hanging from a tree

Sara Russell-Scholl, youth services librarian

North Adams Public Library

- "I Want To Be in a Scary Story" by Sean Taylor: Although the main character, a little monster, thinks he wants to star in a scary story, he finds out that scary stories might not be for him after all. I like that this book isn't heavy with spooky themes and has a message many young readers can relate to.

Louisa Gilder and Will Boyce

The Bookstore, Lenox

Three great chapter books written in this century:

- " Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean: A tale of a boy named Nobody raised by ghosts, both creepy and warmhearted. A modern classic. Beginning of Chapter 1: "There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife."

- "A Good Night for Ghosts" by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House Series): Jack and Annie travel back in time to New Orleans at the birth of jazz: "The city of New Orleans is often called the most haunted city in America."

- "A Tale Dark and Grimm" by Adam Gidwitz: Tales Grimm inspired with a spin.

Beginning of Chapter 1: "Once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome. I know, I know. You don't believe me."

Three classic chapter books, all with terrific black-and-white illustrations:

- "The Witches" by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Black: A boy and his somewhat magical grandmother try to cope with real witches. Beginning of Chapter 1: "I myself had two separate encounters with witches before I was 8 years old. From the first I escaped unharmed, but on the second occasion I was not so lucky."

- "The Little Witch" by Otfried Preussler, illustrated by Winnie Gebhardt-Gaylor: A young witch and her talking raven Abraxas go up against the rigid rules of witch society. Beginning of Chapter 1: "Once upon a time there was a little witch who was only 127 years old. That's not at all old for a witch."

- "13 Clocks" by James Thurber, illustrated by Marc Simont: Neil Gaiman's favorite book; wonderful for reading out loud.

Beginning of Chapter 1: "Once upon a time, in a gloomy castle on a lonely hill, where there were 13 clocks that wouldn't go, there lived a cold, aggressive Duke, and his niece, the princess Saralinda. She was warm in every wind and weather, but he was always cold."

... Speaking of black-and-white illustrations, Halloween is definitely a good time for anyone to seek out the deliciously creepy work of gothic comic illustrators Charles Addams and Edward Gorey.

A recent picture book for younger children:

- "The Darkest Dark" by Chris Hadfield, illustrated by the Fan brothers: The true story of how astronaut Chris Hadfield overcame his fear of the dark as a little boy, with beautiful, creepy, and wonderful illustrations.

... which leads us to a final selection:

The nights are getting longer! Halloween is the perfect time to start looking at the night sky. The star books written and illustrated by H.A. Rey (most famous for his fictional tales of Curious George the monkey) are a great place to start. "Find the Constellations" is for younger kids and "The Stars: A New Way to See Them" is for older kids and adults.


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