From the time I was very young (probably too young) I was reading The Exorcist, anything by Stephen King, and collections of short horror stories that gave me nightmares, but I wouldn't have changed a thing. The one book I never read as a kid was by Richard Adams and that book is Watership Down.
I was about 17 when I read it for the first time and even at that age, it left me feeling too dark, too scary, and too much for children, but as I've gotten older, I wish I would have read it as a kid. I tend to believe this book played a big part of the fact that I like animals more than people. Aside from this book, I honestly can't recall one that I've read that personified animals so deeply or intensely. It changed me.
While I'm not very much into children's books (10 and under) I want to make sure I'm including my friends' kids in my book blog once in a while for recommendations - especially for Halloween. In order to do this properly, I have to rely on experts as opposed to my own opinion. To be clear, I do recommend Watership Down and have purchased it for a few children over the years, but always with Mom's permission and a stuffed bunny they can hold or sleep with should they be anything like me.
What I've done is comb through numerous web sites and reviews and have chosen three books I feel your kids (and possibly you) will enjoy. They're not too much, but hopefully they're just enough to get your kids excited for Halloween. I of course will leave it up to Moms and Dads as to whether you read these with your kids or let them go it alone - but from what I'm seeing - parents are enjoying them just as much as the kids.
The Secret Keepers, by Trenton Lee Stewart
Overview: This doesn't seem to be truly scary as we would normally imagine, but from multiple reviewers, it seems this book has a lot of thrills and dangerous mysteries that children may love.
Plot Summary: "Eleven-year-old Reuben spends his days exploring, hiding, and practicing parkour among the abandoned buildings of the Lower Downs as a way to escape the rough times that have befallen him and his mom--but his discovery of an extraordinary antique pocket watch changes everything. When Reuben finds that the watch has the power to turn him invisible, he's propelled on the adventure of a lifetime."
I'm encouraging you to introduce your kids to classic authors while young.
Bad Kitty Scaredy-Cat, by Nick Bruel Photo
Overview: For the younger kids, between five and eight. I'm not sure why I haven't published the adventures of my four black kitties quite yet. Maybe I need to do that some day. It looks like Bad Kitty is a part of a larger series so if your little one likes this, take them on the other Bad Kitty adventures!
Plot Summary: "Bruel’s Bad Kitty is no shrinking violet, but Halloween has left her on edge: an alphabetical parade of frightening trick-or-treaters includes “an intimidating invisible man, a jarring jack-o-lantern, a killer kraken, [and] a loathsome lion.” In a series of manic panels that will be familiar to readers of the previous books, Bruel sends Bad Kitty through the alphabet four times in this outing—a new record?—including a play-by-play of Bad Kitty terrorizing the terrorizers (“She... injured the invisible man, jostled the jack-o-lantern, kicked the kraken, lambasted the lion”)."
The Halloween Tree, by Ray Bradbury
Overview: You may be surprised to see this one here considering the nature of most of Bradbury's books and movies. However, it seems to pop up a lot in reference to one of the best Halloween books for kids and adults alike. I wasn't sure if I should add it to the list as it's definitely something I think you should probably read to or with your kids, but then my book-nerd persona took over and I'm encouraging you to introduce your kids to classic authors while young. Many adults who have commented on this book say they and their children read it every October. I'm also reading that the 2004 release of this book is the best one to go with. (It was originally published in 1972.)
Plot summary: "A fast-moving, eerie...tale set on Halloween night. Eight costumed boys running to meet their friend Pipkin at the haunted house outside town encounter instead the huge and cadaverous Mr. Moundshroud. As Pipkin scrambles to join them, he is swept away by a dark Something, and Moundshroud leads the boys on the tail of a kite through time and space to search the past for their friend and the meaning of Halloween. After witnessing a funeral procession in ancient Egypt, cavemen discovering fire, Druid rites, the persecution of witches in the Dark Ages, and the gargoyles of Notre Dame, they catch up with the elusive Pipkin in the catacombs of Mexico, where each boy gives one year from the end of his life to save Pipkin's. Enhanced by appropriately haunting black-and-white drawings."
Do you have favorite Halloween stories you share with your children every year?