Anyone who knows me knows I bloody love a good book, so at this Hallowe’en time of year, my thoughts turn to kids’ books and all things spooky…
I have to admit, I’m not crazy about all aspects of Hallowe’en.. I know I’m probably a boring old killjoy but I’ve never really got on board with Trick Or Treating… Something about traipsing about in the freezing cold (and, up here in Manchester, usually rain), demanding gifts from strangers with implicit threats to their comfort and safety, all whilst herding frenzied young children rabid with sugar and E-numbers, has never massively appealed to me. Also, my children have never wanted to dress as cute things like spiders or witches or wizards or ghosts… Despite being raised in a distinctly pacifist household, my little darlings are always desperate to douse themselves in blood and wield massive brutal weaponry.
However, there’s plenty about Hallowe’en that I really do enjoy. Spooky films, spooky baking, spooky crafts, and especially spooky books… dork that I am, I’m all over that stuff. So, to try to inject more Treat than Trick into your Hallowe’en, I thought it’d be a good time to share my 5 favourite spooky/creepy books for kids, along with a special Hallowe’en offer for you lovely folk.
Of these five books, three are ones I’ve enjoyed since my own childhood (two are even the original ancient copies), and all five are ones that Joe (now 16) read as a nipper and that Huey (7) now enjoys. They’ve all very much stood the test of time.
MY FAVOURITE HALLOWE’EN BOOKS FOR KIDS
You can’t go wrong with the good old Ahlbergs, and this is no exception. “In the dark dark street there was a dark dark house,” is a phrase I can’t remember ever not knowing. It’s spooky enough to be exciting for little ones to read but not so spooky it gives them nightmares. It’s amusing, got a lovely rhythm, easy for them to remember and the illustrations are great.
This is one of those books that for some reason I never really get bored of reading despite having read it a million times. The story’s funny – Wilbur does indeed look like a total pillock when he’s multicoloured and I love that he sulks up a tree mortified. The illustrations are fantastic with loads of detail that makes it easy to spot different things each time you read it. I also have massive interior decor envy of Winnie’s house at the end of the book.
Any kids’ book list would be incomplete without good old Mog, and what spookier thing could there be than the terrifying Mousedogbird who haunts her dreams, and who, to be fair, haunted a fair few of mine after reading this. It’s wonderfully surreal and weird in that special way that only products of the 80s can be. Has she died, has she fallen asleep or has she accidentally consumed large quantities of psychedelics? Who knows, but it’s a good old read either way.
Winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal, this is beautiful not just as a book but also as an ‘objet’ (really didn’t want to sound like a pillock for using that word but can’t think of an alternative!) It’s essentially a little dictionary of lots of the mouse’s different fears, all amazingly illustrated in crazy detail, with lots of enticingly tactile cut-outs, fold-outs, flaps, maps and all kinds of ace pictures, sketches and designs. It’s a really good book to provoke chats about their own fears and whether or not they agree with the mouse. Plus there’s a toilet and some poo in there so it’s a guaranteed winner with the nippers.
I saved the best till last with the complete dude that is Roald Dahl and his wonderfully sinister take on some old favourites. Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow White, Goldilocks, Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs all get a revolting reboot in this collection of bastardised children’s classics. Probably more suitable for older children than younger (partly due to complicated language as well as grisly concepts), Dahl doesn’t really pull any punches – beheadings, mother-murdering, heart-eating, child-gobbling and wolf-skinning all feature in this charming book. The first time I read it to my own kids I was slightly horrified but remembering how much I loved it as a kid and seeing how they split their sides laughing, I soon realised that kids are gruesome little twerps and delight at things like this, delivered in the right way in Roald Dahl’s inimitable style. So many of his books should be totally unsuitable for kids with genuinely horrifying ideas – the BFG, The Witches, The Twits… all pretty disturbing when you think about them… but he’s so completely hilarious and inventive they all end up just a complete pleasure to read.
So… there you have them… my top 5 creepy kids’ books for Hallowe’en! Really hope you enjoy them, and if you have any creepy book suggestions of your own please do pop them in the comments below, I’d love to hear them, am always keen for book recommendations!
Happy Hallowe’en folks!
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Take care folks and enjoy those lovely families of yours!