Article, Book Resources
Bookshelf Bests: Fall Fun and Halloween Thrills (Grades K-5)
From Harry Potter to Lemony Snicket, students will love these ideal October read-alouds and engaging stories.
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5
Related Articles: Bookshelf Bests: Friendship Stories for Grades K–5
Welcome the change of seasons and the excitement of Halloween with these engaging stories about fall, spooky characters, and eerie happenings. All of them are ideal read-aloud choices for October, when most grade school kids' thoughts start straying to costumes and trick-or-treating.
Halloween is also a great time to introduce upper elementary kids to the wizarding world of Harry Potter, starting with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and Scholastic's discussion guide and booktalk.
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
The autumn wind sets a tiny seed in motion on a season-by-season journey around the world. Along the way, some seeds drown in the ocean, others get stuck on icy mountaintops, several are stranded in the hot desert, and a few are eaten by birds. Ultimately, the tiny seed survives and thrives, growing into a strong and lovely flower that blooms until the autumn wind triggers the cycle once again. This colorfully illustrated book easily connects to science lessons on plants and weather.
Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman
"It's big and it's mine but it's stuck on the vine," complains a not-so-scary witch who is eager to bake a pie for Halloween. Several ghoulish friends stop by, each one bragging that he is strong enough to pull the giant pumpkin off the vine. But it's only when they pull together that the pumpkin snaps off and "thump-bumps" its way to the witch's front door. Rhythm, rhyme, and repetition make this a lively read-aloud based on "The Turnip," a Russian folktale about cooperation. An easy way to springboard discussions about teamwork.
Here They Come! by David Costello
Clever drawings and wordplay make this delightful story about green goblins preparing for a Halloween party in the woods lots of fun. The climax comes when the friendly looking, childlike goblins get a scare from trick-or-treating kids. To extend the book's enjoyment, refer to Scholastic's lesson plan and author bio.
Magic Tree House #30: Haunted Castle on Hallow's Eve by Mary Pope Osborne
Join Jack and Annie on a mission to restore order to a haunted castle in Camelot. During their adventure, the siblings meet up with Merlin, a young sorcerer named Teddy, ghost-children, and the menacing Raven King. When a magic spell misfires, Jack and Annie are temporarily transformed into ravens, which actually helps them retrieve a powerful diamond from the Raven King's nest. Other Magic Tree House books with a spooky twist include Ghost Town at Sundown and Mummies in the Morning.
Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe
More silly than scary, this favorite features a vampire bunny (Bunnicula), a jealous cat (Chester), and a narrator dog (Harold) with a wry sense of humor. Together, they wreak havoc on a household where vegetables are mysteriously drained of all their juices. Since the story is told from the dog's perspective, reading Bunnicula is a great way to discuss first-person point-of-view storytelling. For insights on what inspired James Howe to write Bunnicula, read this author interview.
A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
What better time to introduce students to the unlucky Baudelaire children and their crazy, cold-hearted guardian, Count Olaf? This first installment of the 13-book series finds Klaus, Violet, and Sunny struggling with their parents' death, but still resilient and resourceful enough to thwart Olaf's never-ending plans to mistreat them and siphon off their inheritance. Click here for a profile of Lemony Snicket, the mysterious author who crafted this enormously popular series.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
A game of hide-go-seek in a country manor takes four British children to a magical land ruled by the cunningly evil White Witch. With the help of a wise and mighty lion, the siblings face down trickery and danger and eventually bring peace to Narnia. Students may be familiar with the story through the recently released movie, but that only enhances the richness of this classic. This book easily connects to social studies lessons on World War II, when many Londoners sent their children to the country to protect them from air raids. A discussion guide and writing prompts/cross-curricular activities are available.
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The witches in this book don't wear silly black hats and cloaks or ride on broomsticks. They dress in ordinary clothes, live in ordinary houses, and have ordinary jobs. True to form, though, they do hate children. That spells trouble for the eight-year-old narrator, who finds himself at a hotel hosting a witch convention. He has to get rid of them before they get rid of him! Masterful storytelling by the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.