Wandering through Oxford’s Summertown with my camera the other day, as one does ever so often, I stopped by the recently opened Daunt Books bookshop. And there, tucked away in the children’s section at the far end of the shop, was this Halloween reading list for older children.
From spooky to funny, mysterious to silly, this Halloween reading list for older children definitely has a little bit of everything for everyone – to keep them awake this October half-term. Pair the books with candy and hot chocolate, and your children will be in Halloween heaven.
This night will be bad and tomorrow will be beyond imagining.
It’s Midwinter’s Eve, the day before Will’s eleventh birthday. But there is an atmosphere of fear in the familiar countryside around him. This will be a birthday like no other. Will discovers that he has the power of the Old Ones, and that he must embark on a quest to vanquish the terrifyingly evil magic of the Dark.
The second novel in Susan Cooper’s highly acclaimed Dark is Rising sequence.
Reading level : 9 – 12 years
Aveline Jones loves reading ghost stories, so a dreary half-term becomes much more exciting when she discovers a spooky old book. Not only are the stories spine-tingling, but it once belonged to Primrose Penberthy, who vanished mysteriously, never to be seen again. Intrigued, Aveline decides to investigate Primrose’s disappearance.
Now someone… or something, is stirring. And it is looking for Aveline.
Turn on your torches, and join Aveline Jones in her first charmingly spooky mystery, from debut author Phil Hickes.
Reading level : Older children and young adults
The classic ghost story from Penelope Lively, one of the modern greats of British fiction for adults and children alike.
James is fed up. His family has moved to a new cottage – with grounds that are great for excavations, and trees that are perfect for climbing – and stuff is happening. Stuff that is normally the kind of thing he does. But it’s not him who’s writing strange things on shopping lists and fences. It’s not him who smashes bottles and pours tea in the Vicar’s lap. It’s a ghost – honestly. Thomas Kempe the 17th century apothecary has returned and he wants James to be his apprentice. No one else believes in ghosts. It’s up to James to get rid of him. Or he’ll have no pocket money or pudding ever again.
An iconic ghost story for children, The Ghost of Thomas Kempe is adored by generations of readers.
Reading level : 7 and up
Meet Malice Morbid Malign. She’s from Underland, land of sorcery, spooks and skulduggery. But, she and her family live in Topside and mischief is their business . . . And the business of mischief is a very serious matter!
The Malign family hate books, they hate bathing, and they especially HATE helping. But when grandad ghosts mysteriously start disappearing, including her own beloved grandad, Malice has no choice but to help. She partners up with her Uncle Vexatious, to solve the case of the missing grandad-ghosts.
This funny, warm-hearted, spooky series – stunningly illustrated by Hannah Peck, and beautifully packaged – will delight and enchant middle-grade readers aged 9-12.
Reading level : 9 to 12
October and her dad live in the woods. They sleep in the house Dad built for them and eat the food they grow in the vegetable patches. They know the trees and the rocks and the lake and stars like best friends. They read the books they buy in town again and again until the pages are soft and yellow – until next year’s town visit. They live in the woods and they are wild.
Written in Katya Balen’s heart-stoppingly beautiful style, this book is a feast for the senses, filled with the woodsmoke smell of crisp autumn mornings and the sound of wellies squelching in river mud.
Reading level : 9 to 12
On the eve of her divining, the day she’ll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community.
Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn’t understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts.
They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate…
Reading level : 12 to 18 years
When orphans Ben and Jennet arrive in the seaside town of Whitby to stay with Alice Boston, they have no idea what to expect. A lively 92-year-old, Miss Boston is unlike any other foster mother they’ve known. Ben is gifted with ‘the sight’, which gives him the power to see things invisible to other mortals. He soon encounters the mysterious fisher folk who live under the cliffs and discovers that Alice and her friends are not quite what they seem.
But a darkness is stalking the streets of Whitby, bringing with it fear and death. Could it be a ghost from the Abbey? Or a beast from hell? Unless the truth is uncovered, the town and all its inhabitants is doomed.
Reading level : 11 – 13 years
Mirabelle has always known she is a monster. When the glamour protecting her unusual family from the human world is torn and an orphaned brother and sister stumble upon Rookhaven, Mirabelle soon discovers that friendship can be found in the outside world.
But as something far more sinister comes to threaten them all, it quickly becomes clear that the true monsters aren’t necessarily the ones you can see.
A thought-provoking, chilling and beautifully written novel, Pádraig Kenny’s The Monsters of Rookhhaven, stunningly illustrated by Edward Bettison, explores difference and empathy through the eyes of characters you won’t want to let go.
Reading level : 9 – 11 years