Looking for the best scary children’s books? These scary picture books for Halloween or any time for elementary students are engaging for primary and upper elementary kids. Books with lesson plans and activities linked. Picture books about various topics like ghosts, monsters, aliens, the dark and more for your kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade students. Your students will delight in these classic and brand new books!
If you’re a member of the Picture Book Brain Trust Community, you already have access to EVERY lesson plan and activity for these books! Just click on the Lesson Plans button in the menu!
Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds
Jasper Rabbit loves carrots—especially Crackenhopper Field carrots. He eats them on the way to school. He eats them going to Little League, and he eats them walking home. Until the day the carrots start following him…or are they?
Try a free lesson and activities for Creepy Carrots by signing up here:
The Skull by Jon Klassen
A creepy yet endearing folktale reimagined by Klassen. Young Otilla runs away from home and comes upon a huge house inhabited by a skull. Otilla and the skull become fast friends, but the skull has been keeping a secret – every night, a headless skeleton tries to catch him. Otilla helps him solve his problem once and for all. Students young and old will find this story both scary and macabre yet entrancing.
The Dark by Lemony Snicket
Laszlo is afraid of the dark. The dark lives in the same house as Laszlo. Mostly, though, the dark stays in the basement and doesn’t come into Lazslo’s room. But one night, it does. This is the story of how Laszlo stops being afraid of the dark. A really fun book to read in the dark with a flashlight and using a creepy voice.
Creepy Pair of Underwear by Aaron Reynolds
Jasper Rabbit is NOT a little bunny anymore. He’s not afraid of the dark, and he’s definitely not afraid of something as silly as underwear. But when the lights go out, suddenly his new big rabbit underwear glows in the dark. A ghoulish, greenish glow. If Jasper didn’t know any better he’d say his undies were a little, well, creepy. Jasper’s not scared obviously, he’s just done with creepy underwear. But after trying everything to get rid of them, they keep coming back!
Aliens Are Coming! by Meghan McCarthy
A picture-book account of one of the most famous pieces of radio history: the War of the Worlds broadcast. This is a really fun book to talk about evaluating sources and also scary until the reveal.
Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett
You would like being friends with Leo. He likes to draw, he makes delicious snacks, and most people can’t even see him. Because Leo is also a ghost. When a new family moves into his home and Leo’s efforts to welcome them are misunderstood, Leo decides it is time to leave and see the world. That is how he meets Jane, a kid with a tremendous imagination and an open position for a worthy knight. That is how Leo and Jane become friends. And that is when their adventures begin.
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid Of Anything by Linda Williams
Once upon a time, there was a little old lady who was not afraid of anything! But one autumn night, while walking in the woods, the little old lady heard . . . clomp, clomp, shake, shake, clap, clap.
And the little old lady who was not afraid of anything had the scare of her life! With bouncy refrains and classic art, this timeless Halloween story is perfect for reading aloud.
The Darkest Dark by Colonel Chris Hadfield
Inspired by the childhood of real-life astronaut Chris Hadfield and brought to life by Terry and Eric Fan’s lush, evocative illustrations, The Darkest Dark will encourage readers to dream the impossible.
Chris loves rockets and planets and pretending he’s a brave astronaut, exploring the universe. Only one problem–at night, Chris doesn’t feel so brave. He’s afraid of the dark.
But when he watches the groundbreaking moon landing on TV, he realizes that space is the darkest dark there is–and the dark is beautiful and exciting, especially when you have big dreams to keep you company.
The Watertower by Gary Crew
On a scorching hot summer day in Preston, Australia, Spike and Bubba go for a swim in the old water tower which casts a long dark shadow across everything in the area. One of the most creepy picture books I have ever read with a number of interpretations that gives kids a lot to talk about between shivers.
Beneath the Surface by Gary Crew
The sequel to Gary Crew’s The Watertower. It’s the story that every kid will want to hear after reading the first book! Just as creepy with an extraterrestrial angle that will have some kids happy that they were right and others scared about the ominous illustrations.
The Widow’s Broom by Chris Van Allsburg
Some of Minna Shaw’s neighbors don’t trust her clever broom. “It’s dangerous,” they say. But Minna appreciates the broom’s help. She enjoys its quiet company. But one day two children get taught a well-deserved lesson by the broom. For her neighbors, this is proof of the broom’s evil spirit. Minna is obligated to give up her dear companion.
The Hairy Toe by Daniel Postgate
The Bones of Fred McFee by Eve Bunting
In this rhythmic story, an unsuspecting brother and sister bring a toy skeleton home from the harvest fair. They name it Fred McFee and hang it from a sycamore tree. Soon, eerie things begin to happen. And then on Halloween night, Fred vanishes!
Perfect Pumpkin Pie by Denys Cazet
When he was alive, Mr. Wilkerson was an ill-tempered, disagreeable, sour, and impatient old man. Once he died, he got better. But not much. Now he is back and very, very hungry. When Jack and his grandma move into the old Wilkerson house, they find out just how hungry, and why. At least they think they know. It has something to do with pie. A perfect pie.
Best Scary Children’s Books
What are some of your favorite scary children’s books? Are there any must read scary children’s books that I left out? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it!
Remember: You can try a free lesson and activities for Creepy Carrots by signing up here: