9 Halloween Picture Books For Upper Elementary

9 Halloween Picture Books For Upper Elementary

There is no better way to get into the Halloween spirit in your upper elementary classroom than with some spooky picture books!

Kids love listening to their teacher read aloud any picture book. When October comes, getting cozy in the reading area with a good old-fashioned Halloween picture book is a great way to celebrate reading, continue building your reading community, and keep your students engaged and critically thinking.

While there is an endless supply of Halloween-themed picture books, not all will help your older students grow as readers, pushing them to think critically and practice reading strategies. After years of teaching big kids, I know what Halloween books work for upper elementary. 

Below is a list of my favorite Halloween picture books that will get your students thinking, analyzing, and enjoying a wide range of stories.

Be sure to grab the FREE Halloween printables to go along with these favorite titles.

1. Gustavo written by Flavio Z. Drago

gustavo the shy ghost read aloud

This sweet story will have your students cheering on Gustavo as he learns the best way to make friends is to be himself, letting his interests shine through. This story truly shows how being shy can make you feel invisible. Reading this book will bring conversations about being a good friend into your classroom.

Use this read-aloud for lessons about...

  • character traits
  • problem and solution
  • figurative language

2. The Widow's Broom written by ChrisVanAllsburg

widow's broom read aloud

This read-aloud is perfect for upper elementary! The story will have readers at the edge of their seat as they ask questions about the magical broom and make predictions on each page. This book tells the story of what happens to a witch's old broom when it loses its magic. Your students will be surprised by the ending!

Use this read-aloud for lessons about...

  • descriptive writing
  • asking questions as readers
  • making predictions as readers

3. Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein written by Linda Bailey

Mary who Wrote Frankenstein read aloud

This book is a must-read during October in your upper elementary classroom. This simple biography tells how Mary Shelley wrote the story of Frankenstein. It also describes how as a young girl she was a dreamer and used her imagination. These skills helped her become a famous writer that is known worldwide even hundreds of years after her most famous story was published. A truly inspirational tale.

Use this read-aloud for lessons about...

  • how writers come up with ideas
  • reading and writing biographies
  • brainstorming, creativity, and using your imagination

4. The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything written by Linda Williams

the little old lady who was not afraid of anything read aloud

This is a fun read aloud that is perfect to practice any reading strategy, especially making predictions and summarizing. With a predictable format and an easy storyline to retell, students can easily summarize this story. This book tells the story of a an old lady who is visited by different things that are trying to scare her, but as the title says, she is not afraid of anything. Just when the reader thinks that she is about to be spooked, something clever happens! Will your students be able to predict the ending?

Use this read-aloud for lessons about...

  • figurative language: onomatopeia 
  • making predictions
  • summarizing

5. Hardly Haunted written by Jessie Sima

hardly haunted read aloud

I love books written by Jessie Sima, and this one is no exception! This book tells the story of a spooky old house who does not want to be haunted...until something happens one night to change its mind. This is a quick, fun read that is perfect for the spooky season.

Use this read-aloud for lessons about...

  • figurative language: personification
  • descriptive writing

6. Stumpkin written by Lucy Ruth Cummins

stumpkin read aloud

Stumpkin is such a fun book to share! Poor stumpkin does not have a stem like the other pumpkins who are bought by families and turned into jack-o'-lanterns. Just when stumpkin gets down on himself, something amazing happens to him! This book will leave such a lasting impression on your students that when they go pumpkin picking, they will surely pick a stumpkin!

Use this read-aloud for lessons about...

  • figurative language: similes
  • story elements
  • being yourself and loving yourself as you are

7. Hugo Sprouts and the Strange Case of the Beans written by John Loren

hugo sprouts and the strange case of the beans picture book

This one is not Halloween themed, but it sure is perfect for the spooky season! Hugo does not like being the smallest in his family,not one bit. To do something about it, he concocts a special brew that makes him bigger. Along the way as he gets bigger and bigger, he learns a valuable lesson with a little help from his best dog pal. Definitely a must read, especially for classrooms that are looking for Halloween alternatives.

Use this read-aloud for lessons about...

  • paying attention to fonts, illustrations, and sidebar writing
  • theme, life lesson, author's message
  • being yourself and loving yourself as you are

8. Bone Soup written by Cambria Evans

bone soup read aloud

This is a fun read for Halloween time in your classroom. This twist on Stone Soup follows Finnegan, a skeleton as he collects ingredients to make his Bone Soup. Your students will love following along as Finnegan meets new characters and adds another ingredient into his soup. I especially love the illustrations and text dialogue in this story.

Use this read-aloud for lessons about...

  • problem and solution
  • dialogue 
  • compare and contrast lessons: compare to this version of Bone Soup or Stone Soup

9. Creepy Crayon (and series) written by Aaron Reynolds

creepy carrots read aloud

No Halloween picture book list is complete without the popular "creepy" series written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by the amazing Peter Brown. They are all amazing, but I am going to review Creepy Carrots here, as it was the first written and the first one you should read!

Creepy Carrots is a must read! This cleverly written story follows Jasper Rabbit as he is stalked by the very carrots that he wants to pick and eat. This book is filled with juicy words, fantastic illustrations, and a clear problem and solution structure that makes it easy for students to summarize. As students listen to Jasper's story they too will wonder if Jasper really is seeing creepy carrots. Such a run read aloud that will make you fall in love with Jasper and want to read all of the other books in the series. 

Use this read-aloud for lessons about...

  • problem and solution
  • dialogue 
  • compare and contrast lessons: compare to this version of Bone Soup or Stone Soup

Take a look at the others in the series:

10. Bonus Book Recommendation: The Spider and The Fly written by Mary Howitt

the spider and the fly picture book

While this is not a Halloween story, it surely is perfect to read during the month of October as kids are focused on all things Halloween like spiders! This book is based on the poem by Mary Howitt and tells a cautionary tale about what happens when we meet flattering strangers. This book is perfect to discuss author's message and theme. We often refer back to this book throughout the year for different purposes.

Use this read-aloud for lessons about...

  • problem and solution
  • theme, life lesson, author's message
  • rewriting the ending of stories

When it comes to Halloween excitement in the classroom, don’t ignore it! Instead, use it to your advantage. Grab one of these titles and watch student engagement and meaningful reading discourse skyrocket!

Looking for more meaningful Halloween activities for your students, like these Halloween Haikus?
Take a look HERE.

Halloween Writing Activity Upper Elementary

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Halloween Read Aloud 3rd 4th5th grades

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