Halloween is an exciting time of year: fun costumes! Pumpkin carving! Yummy candy! Parties all month long! I know I spend at least half a year planning what I’ll dress up as on October 31st. But Halloween can also be a really frightening time of year, and spooky and scary isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Maybe you’re not really into creepy ghost stories and gory movies—that’s totally okay! (Guess what? Me, neither.) Just because you don’t like getting your pants scared off doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, too. To celebrate the Halloween season, I’ve put together a list of books for a non-scary Halloween. These mysterious stories will take you on fantastic, wild adventures to get you in the Halloween spirit, but you’ll still be able to sleep at night (well, maybe with a night light).
The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
Young Jack is only just beginning to learn of his mysterious magical abilities when he and his little sister, Lucy, are kidnapped from their small village by berserkers. What follows next is a thrilling (and hilarious) adventure featuring man-eating spiders, dragons, troll bears, and Vikings—and a universe of creatures, powers, and myths that will forever change Jack’s life.
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
The Baudelaire children—Violet, Klaus, and Sunny—have had a run of very bad luck. Not only did their parents perish in the fire that claimed their house, they are sent to live with the horrible Count Olaf. It will take a lot of clever skill and determination for the Baudelaires to foil Olaf’s sinister plans to steal their inheritance, and a lot of teamwork, but they might just make it out of this chapter of their lives OK…for now!
The Witches by Roald Dahl
Thanks to his grandmother’s stories, a seven-year-old boy knows all about witches—REAL witches, not just the ones of stories! He knows how to tell if a human is really a witch in disguise, and knows that what witches hate more than anything else in the world is children. When he accidentally uncovers a truly terrible plot to rid England of all its children, it’s up to the boy to come up with a plan to stop the witches…though an unfortunate transformation is going to make it a lot harder than he thought!
The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis
Neighbors Digory and Polly are having a pretty wild summer. After accidentally stumbling into an alternate world (thanks to Digory’s Uncle Andrew and some magic rings), they find themselves in even further trouble when they awaken an evil queen with a sinister desire to take over the earth! This first book of the Chronicles of Narnia series will pull you in right away, introducing you to the incredible universe of Narnia and all its fantastic creatures.
Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark by Ridley Pearson
Five teenagers, used as models for holographic “guides” in the Disney World theme park, find themselves transported back to the park every night thanks to a bizarre technological glitch. They are tasked with battling an evil force called the Overtakers, a group of Disney villains intent on destroying the world. If you love fantasy, mystery, and all things Disney, this is definitely a must-read!
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
When sixteen people are named as the heirs to the fortune of Samuel W. Westing, an eccentric millionaire who loved puzzles, they are divided into teams of two and tasked with solving a series of clues. The pair who solve the mystery first will inherit the entire fortune…but the heirs may be hiding some dark mysteries of their own!
Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
Serafina is a pro at staying hidden: she lives on the vast Biltmore Estate with her father, the estate’s maintenance man, completely unknown to the estate owners Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt. She knows all the secret corridors and passageways of the mansion, which she explores every night. So when children start disappearing from the estate, Serafina is the only one who knows which clues to follow…but is she willing to risk being discovered to save them? With mystery, suspense, and—yes!—magic, this book is sure to suck you in right away and whisk you off on a most fantastic journey.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Young orphan Hugo relies on being quick and staying undetected to survive in a busy Paris train station. He picks pockets, lives in the walls, and keeps the clocks running. But his world is about to change—and become a lot more visible—when he collides with the mysterious man who runs a toy booth in the station. A series of clues, including a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father, lead Hugo on a journey of discovery that will reveal not only more about the new people in his life, but his own past as well.
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
Eleven-year-old classmates Petra and Calder are fairly new friends, but they have so much in common—they love art, their teacher Ms. Hussey, and even the same blue candy! So when a famous Vermeer painting is stolen on its way to Chicago, and the art thief leaves a series of clues in the public paper, the two decide to solve the mystery on their own…and with the clock ticking down and clues becoming more complicated by the day, it’s a race against time for the new dynamic duo!
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
Responding to a most peculiar ad in the newspaper, dozens of children sign up to take a series of competitive tasks to prove their gifted abilities—but only four make the cut. These four children are selected to join a super-secret society and tasked with a dangerous, mysterious mission: to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened. There’s something very sinister afoot at the Institute, and only these four can stop it! Criminal masterminds, plans for world domination, and ultra-smart kids…what could possibly go wrong?
What do you think? Have you read any of the books on this list? Do you have any recommendations for not-so-scary Halloween books? Share your thoughts and picks in the Comments!
Have a very Happy Halloween!