CommonLit Elementary Classrooms 7 Stories Filled with Halloween Spirit

Here are some festive and spooky reading lessons perfect for October!

Trick treating, dressing up, and jack-o'-lanterns are on every student’s mind this time of year. Lean into the festivities with these spooky and fantastical texts your class is sure to love! Our digital literacy program comes with tools that will help you build reading comprehension in the classroom and reach benchmark ELA standards for all of your students.

Grandpa’s Magic Hat” by Marilyn Helmer (3rd Grade)

In this short story, a young boy and his brother find an old hat in the attic. Their grandfather tells them it will bring a scarecrow to life. They are skeptical but still plan an experiment to see if the hat is magic.

This heartwarming story is sure to resonate with children whose steadfast belief in magic might be starting to waver. It is the perfect text for teachers introducing character point of view. Matt's views about magic changes over the course of the story. Ask students to identify where in the story those shifts of opinion begin to appear.

Screenshot of beginning of "Grandpa's Magic Hat" lesson including a picture of a scarecrow.

The Corn Maze” by Kris Bitar (3rd Grade)

In this spooky story, a family visits a corn maze; however, the narrator’s plan to scare their younger brother backfires!

Use this scary story for kids to start a conversation about your students' relationship with fear. Using the discussion questions as a guide ask your students: “Do you think it was a good idea for the narrator to try to scare Max? Why or why not? Have you ever tried to scare someone? Would you like to scare someone? Why or why not?”

Trail into Darkness” by Brad Robie (4th Grade)

This spooky short story begins with Luke and his family snowshoeing through the woods. Luke gets separated by his family and starts to panic; the woods are suddenly a much more sinister place. Eventually, he calms himself down and finds his family.

Pair “The Trail into Darkness” with Gary Soto’s “The Chicken Who Crossed the Road” both lessons have an emphasis on courage in times of fear. Ask students to compare the main characters’ acts of courage. Although both characters are brave, how does their bravery differ? How is it the same? If Luke from “Trail Into Darkness” met Miguel from “The Chicken that Crossed the Road” what advice might they give each other?

Screenshot of Paired Text tab for "Trail Into Darkness" lesson with "The Chicken That Crossed The Road" highlighted.

Little Red Riding Hood” by the Brothers Grimm (5th Grade)

In this classic fairy tale, a wolf stalks Little Red Riding Hood all the way to her grandmother’s house. It is only through her grandmother’s quick thinking and the wolf’s interest in a sausage snack that saves the little girl.

In the Related Media tab of this lesson you will find an audio-visual version of the story. Show it to your class and ask students to identify which words and passages the narrator puts emphasis on. Is this story scarier when read out loud?  

The Talking Skull” by Donna L. Washington (5th Grade)

In this fable from Cameroon, a man finds a talking skull and decides to take it to his village. The village people don’t believe the skull can speak and the townspeople banish the man.

The fantastical skull allowed the protagonist to see the world through a different lens. This text allows students to think about active listening using allegory. This is an excellent lesson if you’re teaching a unit of fables. You can find more fable based lessons here!

The Spooky Science of Fear” by Tracy Vonder Brink (4th Grade)

In this interview, Tracy Vonder Brink and Dr. Margaret Kerr explain the effects of fear on our brains and bodies. The two discuss how fear can be a tool that can be used to protect us, but it can also stop someone from trying new things.

Pair any of the previous lessons with this short piece In order to further students' understanding of fear. Your class can go farther and watch the  video “The Brain for Kids” from our Related Media tab. The video explains how different parts of the brain work. Ask students which part of the brain is responsible for fear? What else does this part of the brain help us do?

Next Steps

For students who love Halloween but don’t love the fear factor, check out our Thematic Unit on Fantasy, which includes reading assignments, evidence-based writing assignments, and sprinkling of fairies.

Looking for more tips and tricks for bringing the Halloween spirit to your classroom? Come to one of our Spooky Stories Webinars!