Halloween Themed Books for the Family

As Halloween draws nearer, the possibilities of ghosts and ghouls prowling the streets increase. When day fades into night, we find ourselves questioning what can entertain us. With my infinite love for Halloween and its folklore, I have debated what stories, or books, have haunted me the most and have agitated the eeriness of October. As I am searching through my library chamber, I encounter many shelved friends ranging from classic to contemporary. The following is a list of books that can help entertain you while you are locked securely in your home. All books listed are family friendly.

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Halloween by Silver Raven Wolf documents the night where the veil between worlds is it’s thinnest. Halloween is a pagan book that gives a brief history of when October 31st was known as Samhain. In the following pages, we learn how this holiday continued forward with ancient customs that had been altered to fit the Catholic Church. After we learn of this transition, we are provided a chapter on Halloween symbols and myths. This chapter is very inspirational, especially if you are a horror author – it explains in great detail the superstitions behind: black cats, scarecrows, cornhusk dolls, vampires, werewolves, bonfires, etc. For pagan readers, we are provided pages of spells and a recipe section that can help you conjure some good Halloween meals.   Although, this book is geared toward the pagan community, there is nothing in it that would be offensive to other religions.

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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz is intended for ages eight and up. However, don’t be fooled by its suggested reading ages as some of the stories are enough to give adults the heebie jeebies. Written in a fashion that feels as if you are sitting at a camp bonfire, these urban legend style tales are accompanied by grotesque black and white art.

In what spans out to be three volumes, we have stories regarding serial killers in the backseat, haunted houses, the living dead, ghosts, animal attacks, and spiders laying eggs within the human body. Although the stories are no more than a page or two in length, these books provide readers and their families with the fuel that most kids need to turn off the television.

One of the many stories that frightened me as a child and still gives me the willies to this day is in volume one – the tale called The White Wolf. Other stories worthy of mention include: High Beams, Harold, One Sunday Morning, Bess, Cold as Clay, and Wolf Girl.

Rumor has it, a movie is being made of this fantastically gruesome trilogy.

 The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving is a surefire way to entice the fears of the Halloween season. Without elaborating that the story’s main focus is on Halloween and it regards a headless ghoul, I would like to shine light on the impact of the tale.

Despite this piece being known as an American Classic, we can suspect the German folktale The Wild Huntsman, could have been fuel to Irving’s imagination. It was during a European tour that Irving penned his work The Sketch Book, and it was during this time he grew fond of German ghost stories.

Although the Americanized headless villain surfaced in print during the early 1800’s, it is safe to say that the villain’s likeliness has haunted generations for years prior.   Even throughout modern times, the Headless Horseman has appeared in fan fiction, songs, cartoons, movies, plays, etc. Society has even taken the fandom of the tale to a new level. In the mid 90’s, the village of North Tarrytown, NY changed its name to Sleepy Hollow and the high school teams are named “The Horsemen.” Shortly after the turn of the millennium, a statue of Ichabod Crane and the haint was resurrected on Route 9 in Sleepy Hollow/Tarrytown, New York.

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The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury is a tale that explores the lives of nine friends on Halloween night. To their dismay, they discover their ninth friend, Pipkin, has fallen ill and has the possibility to suffer at the hands of death. Determined to rescue Pipkin, the friends journey into a world lead by a gravely character named Moundshroud. This motley crew explores sights such as: Druidism, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Rome, the Notre Dame Cathedral, Medieval Paris, and Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival. Throughout, we learn about Halloween customs and the true spirit of the night.

The Halloween Tree is a fun read for all ages. The way that Bradbury presents his characters is in a tangible aspect, and the scenes in which we are introduced provides us knowledge while having fun. At the book’s conclusion, we see what happens when the price of friendship is at stake.

Side note: the Halloween Tree is a metaphor for the many ways Halloween is celebrated.

 The Gates

The Gates by John Connolly introduces a boy named Samuel who decides to trick or treat three nights early. While roaming about his town, Samuel approaches a creepy mansion, housing a coven that accidentally opens the gates to Hell. As an example of the dark humor that this novel has in store, the address of this mansion is 666 Crowley Road.

The Gates is a race against time book, as it is Samuel’s job to shut the gates of Hell before demons can infest Earth. Sequels to this novel include: The Infernals, and The Creeps.

My favorite scene is when the demon is hiding under Samuel’s bed. The demon is trying to entice Samuel to get out of bed so he can be captured. Samuel refuses the demon’s persuasions and within the matter of only a few lines, Samuel asks, “Are you gone?”

The demon, replies, “Yes, I’m gone.”

This is the type of humor that awaits you within The Gates.

I hope everyone enjoyed this list of suggested Halloween books. Coming up are multiple interviews regarding authors and artists in the horror genre.

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5 Responses to “Halloween Themed Books for the Family”

  1. Because it is more family themed I would agree with the choice of Bradbury’s Halloween Tree over his Something Wicked. It’s also illustrated by the unique art of Joe Mugnaini in most editions. But SWTWC’s remains for me the best Halloween themed book of all since it captures the dark wonder of the holiday and season so well. I’d also place The October Country up there.

  2. Bradbury’s Halloween Tree was one I still remember from school. Our English teacher shared the story with us as part of the explanations on structure and story. The theme and ideas have stuck with me. I am glad it made the list.

  3. Pretty! This has been an extremely wonderful article.
    Many thanks for providing this info.

  4. This is a great tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very precise info… Thank you for sharing this one. A must read post!

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