I have chosen some entertaining selections that allow younger children to have a little, harmless scare. All of these books leave the children with a renewed sense that there was nothing to fear to begin with. There are no evil or scary images. These picture books are all in good fun!
A Dark Dark Tale (ages 4-9) by Ruth BrownThis book has been a favorite of mine for years. Readers will be on the edge of their seats as the narrative moves from a dark, dark moor to a dark, dark house (which looks like an old castle) to a dark, dark corner. Each page is just one sentence with some fitting illustrations. I love to emphasis “dark, dark” and to build up the story with voice inflection. The end result of this journey is a mouse in his little box house. This books is ideal for a family or group story time.
Annie was Warned (ages 5-10) by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Watch as Annie’ story unfolds… Everyone tells Annie (a curious and determined young girl) to stay away from a creepy, old mansion. Nevertheless, she ventures out on Halloween night to investigate. There are two ghosts (people in costumes) watching her as she encounters many incidents of scary mistaken identity. Readers have the opportunity to predict what might happen or what is making the noise, shadow, or touch. The end reveals a delightful surprise for Annie! Children will enjoy this “spooky” story.
Ghost’s Hour, Spook’s Hour (ages 5-10) by Eve Bunting
It is the story of a young boy who is awakened on a dark, windy night. Every noise in the house feels like something menacing to him, but he quickly realizes there is a good explanation for each one. I like this story because it deals with the overactive imaginations kids (and even grown-ups) often posses. Jake realizes that he has nothing to fear and his parents were always there. The pictures look slightly ominous because it is a dark house on a windy & cloudy fall evening. In the end, the little boy is comforted and safe with his puppy cuddled up next to him.
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything (ages 5-9) by Linda Williams
As the little old lady walks through the woods, a sting of items attempts to scare her: two big shoes, a pair of pants, a white shirt, gloves, and a top hat. As each new item is introduced, it accompanies a unique onomatopoeia sound and repetition of the previous appearances--both of which invite student participation in the story telling. Despite these strange sightings (and creative personification of inanimate objects) the little old lady consistently affirms that she isn't afraid of anything until a scary jack-o-lantern comes along. Then, she runs home. The items knock on her door in an attempt to once again frighten her, but she regains her courage and tells them she is not afraid. As a result the items are discouraged. There is a fun surprise twist to the story, sure to make you chuckle.
The Three Bears' Halloween (ages 4-8) by Kathy Duval
As the three bear dress up for some forest trick or treating, they come across a decorated house. When they hear a “scary” sound outside, they hide in the house. They get glimpses of a pointy hat, a broom, and a big nose. The bears eventually flee. It is revealed that those “scary” glimpses were only of Goldilocks dressed up for Halloween. This story is a bit of a reversal of the original, but not a complete replication. The bears try the Halloween treats on the counter, accidently break a chair, and hide together in a bed. Their personalities are conveyed in their individual responses to each situation. Even though the bears are scared, children will likely not be. The pictures are colorful and cheerful. The conclusion is humorous and ironic.