I like to think that every holiday is a good chance to get some new books. (My bookshelves are always begging for mercy.) Halloween is no different. Sure, you'll also need to stock up on candy and cider and pumpkin-spice-flavored-things, but I think spooky children's books are just as vital. Playing dress-up is fun and all, but some of my favorite memories of being a kid had to do with being scared out of my mind (and subsequently running to my big brother or my parents and demanding that they keep me safe). I devoured horror books, even the super scary books with grotesque black and white drawings of ghosts and ghouls and spiders crawling out of skulls. I loved to see just how scared I could stand to make myself. And I want to give my children the same opportunities (within age-appropriate reason, of course). So I've rounded up some new Halloween-y books that range from festive and silly to downright spooky (or "'pooky" as my youngest says.) So light your jack-o'-lanterns and pull up a woolly blanket and a mug of something mulled, surround yourself with an array of screaming carved pumpkins and/or a terrifyingly realistic latex corpse, and get to reading.
1. 'Bear's Scare' by Jacob Grant
2. 'Monster School' by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Lee Gatlin
These school-themed poems aren't about your average students. Ghoulish kids that play ball with a head and banshee teachers that are terrifying when they shriek are just some of the delightfully macabre characters you'll find in this collection of poems. The illustrations are super detailed, so little monsters can pore over them at bedtime.
3. 'Goodnight, Little Monsters' by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Brian Won
Even the spookiest of characters need to get ready for bed. The monsters in this book aren't all that spooky as they brush their teeth and read stories with their daddies and mummies. This is a perfect spooky bedtime book that won't give your kid nightmares.
4. 'Skelly's Halloween' by David Martin, illustrations by Lori Richmond
Even skeletons want to go trick-or-treating. Poor Skelly has a rough go of it, though, one mishap and the other trick-or-treaters need to help put him together. Yeah, it's about Halloween, but this book probably will elicit more giggles than gasps.
5. 'H Is For Halloween' by Disney Book Group
6. 'The Hidden Witch' by Molly Knox Osterberg
The Hidden Witch by Molly Knox Osterberg ($11.69, Barnes & Noble) This graphic novel comes out the day before Halloween and it's the follow-up The Witch Boy. In a family where the boys are shapeshifters and the girls are witches, one boy, Aster, breaks those rules. And in the sequel he's facing curses and family skeletons.
7. 'Ernestine, Catastrophe Queen' by Merrill Wyatt
8. 'City Of Ghosts' by Victoria Schwab
This middle-grade book for the nine and up set is chock full of ghosts and ghosthunters. Even the main character Cass's best friend is a ghost. When Cass's ghosthunting parents take her to Edinburgh, she's confronted by an ominous presence. I mean, the cover alone is creepy.
9. 'The House In Poplar Wood' by K. E. Ormsbee
Who doesn't love a good family curse? This book has a creepy atmosphere from the get-go. With twins who are forced to leave separate lives, one with each parent, this is kind of like a scary version of The Parent Trap. This would be a great read-aloud.
Beware! This book is super spooky. For the truly brave older kid (thinking like 10 and up here), take a trip to Smoke Hollow and beware "The Smiling Man." Anytime you get a warning not to stay out past nightfall because "they'll come for you," you know you're in for a treat. Plus, it's blurbed by R.L. Stine.