Last week I wrote about Halloween and how the month of October can be an especially anxious time for little humans. Engaging in conversations and gentle experiences of this holiday with young children can help to ease fears and anxieties. By helping them to develop a better concept of real vs pretend, they become more confident about what they see. One of the tips I shared to help children be less afraid of Halloween’s spookiness was to read Halloween books for preschoolers. (You can read that post with all my tips here.) By doing this, we can prepare them for what they might see, hear, and do. Reading these Halloween books for preschoolers also helps them to understand more clearly the difference between what is real and what is pretend.
To help you more easily choose books that are positive and age-appropriate, I have compiled a list of books. Ones that I have found and enjoy sharing with my own child and other preschoolers. While not all of these are strictly Halloween books, they all deal with this event, or help to start conversations about distinguishing between real and pretend. There were several other books I picked up about these concepts, but I am only going to include those that I really liked. I should also let you know that each of the links to the books on Amazon are affiliate links. I make a small commission if a purchase is made through one of these links.
(Note: Always pre-read children’s books before presenting them to your children. There are many kids books out there have language, illustrations, and ideas that will shock you. “Did someone really think this book was a good idea for kids to read?!” When you pre-read a book that doesn’t sit well with you, you are better able to change the wording, skip sections, cover up images, or decide not to read the book at all.)
10 Halloween Books For Preschoolers
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
This book has become a fast favourite of my little one this year. The basis of the story is a little old lady heads into the woods, and on her return she encounters different items of clothing. There are shoes that go “clomp, clomp”, pants, a shirt, a hat, gloves, and a “very big, very scary” pumpkin head. Each of the items has a sound and/or action that accompanies it.
As the witch bumps into each piece, she tells them to go away, and that she’s not afraid of them. This can be used to enforce that we have the ability to take control of our own fears. We can try to make them go away by facing them, and deciding to not let them scare us.
When the witch encounters the pumpkin head, she says she is not afraid. It seems she is somewhat fearful, though, as she runs home. However, when there comes a knock, she decides not to be afraid and faces whatever is on the other side of the door. There she finds all of the items that have followed her. While these have come to scare her, she takes control by telling them she will not be made afraid. She then offers a more productive idea for the items.
I like how the repetitive pieces and actions of the book inspire children to take part in the telling of the story. At the end of the story, a moral can be brought attention to by noting that, while some things can appear to be dangerous and frightening, they might be very useful and harmless in the right place.
You can check this book out on Amazon here: The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
Hoot Owl: Master of Disguise
This one is about an owl who is on the hunt for food, and attempts to dress up in different disguises to trick his prey. While I at first found it a bit odd, as it very clearly says how the owl will eat up the animals it tries to catch, this is the reality of carnivorous animals. My little one did not seem to be upset at this at all. Instead, she seems to adore this book, finding it funny (especially with a funny voice when reading it) and requesting it over and over again. In the end, the owl disguises himself as a waiter to catch a pizza, which works (The pizza does not move!). He then takes off his disguise to be the hoot owl he really is.
I use this book to help reinforce that, while the owl might look like a carrot or a sheep, he is still an owl. You can ask your child questions as you read each part, to help solidify that dressing up does not make something real. For instance, “He looks like a carrot now! Does that mean he really is a carrot?”
You can check this book out on Amazon here: Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise
Happy Halloween, Emily!
The sheer simplicity of this book gently introduces children to what they might be doing and seeing on Halloween, as Emily the bunny carries us through some different elements. This one would be easy to use with the younger children.
You can check this book out on Amazon here: Happy Halloween Emily! by Claire Masurel (2002-08-26)
Another simple introduction to expectations about Halloween, this one is slightly more in depth than Emily’s, with more words and more detailed pictures. Franklin and his friends are going to a Halloween party. Some fears come up as there are suspicions there may be a real ghost at the party. Of course, it turns out that the ghost is not real, and reinforces that our minds can play tricks on us. Reality is often far less scary than we might imagine.
You can check this book out on Amazon here: Franklin’s Halloween
Go Away, Big Green Monster
While not one of the specific Halloween books for preschoolers, this one deals with the concept of real versus imaginary, and fears. It is a classic in the early childhood centres I’ve experienced. This book deals with how our imagination can make up scary things to frighten us, but how we have the mental power to push away those fears. As each part of the big green monster is encountered, the children can help to call out the “Go away” lines to each characteristic, such as the teeth, hair, eyes, etc. As you turn each page, those pieces go away.
You can check this book out on Amazon here: Go Away, Big Green Monster!
When we picked out this book, I was almost sure it would be a flop. It was clearly an old and possibly outdated book, and the images were not especially eye-catching. However, I’m glad I did grab it, as it contains a message I was striving to find. While someone may look scary or ugly or like one particular thing, they may in fact be something else entirely.
In this story, it starts by introducing you to a witch, and as it goes it calls attention to her different attributes (the big, warty nose, the tall, pointed hat, etc). However, while she looks like a witch, it shares how she can’t seem to make magic and potions, fly on a broom, or do things that witches are known for. Then the witch starts to take off her hat, socks, and all the other pieces that dress her up to make her look like a witch. On the very last page we see that she is actually just a girl who was wearing a witch costume.
You can check this book out on Amazon here: Humbug Witch
Maisy Dresses Up
Another simple picture book, this story uses only a few words paired with simple images to introduce the concept of dressing up in a costume. It shows Maisy’s friends in their different costumes, going to a costume party. Then, in walks a zebra. But wait! It’s not really a zebra, it’s Maisy dressed up in a costume to look like a zebra.
You can check this book out on Amazon here: Maisy Dresses Up
It Looks Like a Dog
Again, this one is not specifically a Halloween book. However, it does help to address the fact that people (or animals) can dress up to look like something else, but they are still their original identity. The book shows a different dog on each page, saying “It looks like a dog” (to which you could ask if the child thinks it is a dog). Each dog is then shown dressed up to be something else. To drill home the message, I like to follow each page with “Do you think that’s really a _____?”.
You can check this book out on Amazon here: It looks like a dog
The Sweetest Witch Around
This is one of the Halloween books for preschoolers that explores Halloween through a different lens. In this story, a big sister witch is explaining Halloween to her little sister witch. It makes a nice introduction to perspectives. The witches are afraid of humans, and candy is considered yucky. This parallels how humans might see witches as being scary, and how we find candy delicious. This twist helps to show that what we fear might actually be fearful of us, and what we do like, others might not. What we don’t know might seem scary and be misunderstood, until we can see from the other viewpoint.
This is also a way to introduce what you might see or do on Halloween night, that’s quite different from other Halloween books for preschoolers.
You can check this book out on Amazon here: The Sweetest Witch Around
The last of the Halloween books for preschoolers is possibly the most straight forward in teaching real vs pretend. I’ve used this book with my preschool classes to introduce Halloween each year in the past. It shares fairly simple words and images, and uses flaps that can be flipped to investigate what is real or pretend. In this story, one character – who is used to playing pretend – helps teach their friend what is means to “pretend”.
You can check this book out on Amazon here: What’s Pretend?
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Disclosure: As stated above, all links to these books on Amazon are affiliate links. I am paid a small commission for any purchases made through these links. Running this website takes time and money, and including these links helps to offset those costs and keep my labour of love up and running.