I love Halloween books. Love them.
And I don’t mean just books for younger readers. I love old school horror that relies on the creep factor vs gore. Stories that are atmospheric and keep you waiting for the thing that goes bump in the night are the best!
But I love Halloween books and creepy books for the youngest readers. Again, I think it is because it is creep minus the gore.
One of my son’s favorites when he was little was the Berenstain Bears Spooky Old Tree. If you have never read it, it is an early reader picture book about whether or not the bears will dare to go inside this massive spooky tree. Of course, they do it or it would be a really short and rather pointless book.
Another funny one is Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown. Jasper Rabbit loves to eat carrots until they day they start following him. Or are they? Just the thought of a kid, even a vegetable loving kid, being haunted by vegies cracks me up.
Humor goes a long way toward making a creepy or scary idea work for younger readers. How could you do this? Let’s take a horror movie trope and see how we can switch it up.
Bryan and his family move into a new house. Their next door neighbor peeks at Bryan from behind the curtains. She yells at him when his ball lands in her garden full of dead plants. He’s convinced she’s a witch.
There’s the trope. Now we need a funny twist.
The kid he asks to help him investigate is actually a witch.
What other tropes could you play with? Here are a few possibilities.
- The evil doll that comes to life.
- The abandoned playground (vs the abandoned house/camp/castle).
- A cursed object. What if it was something ridiculous like a gum ball or bubble soap?
- Instead of a horrible smell announcing all that is evil, what if the character is worried because scary things happen when they smell sugar cookies? Or french fries?
What could you do with one of these? Or maybe you can think of another trope you could mess with like spider webs, the sound of footsteps, or a creaking door. Anything is fair game? You just need to fins a way to make it silly and creepy.