October is my favorite month of the year. It’s pleasantly cool outside, the leaves have started changing into warm colors, and best of all, it’s the month of Halloween! Halloween has become quite popular in Japan recently and although trick-or-treating hasn’t quite caught on yet, you can still find costumes, decorations, and cute Halloween-themed desserts almost everywhere you go. Picture books are also no exception, and what better way to get in the Halloween spirit than by reading one about Halloween in Japanese or English (or both!) with your little one?
My daughter can’t get enough of picture books so I would share five Halloween-themed picture books in Japanese and four in English that she’s been reading voraciously this month. At almost 15 months, my toddler (unsurprisingly) has a short attention span but these books are short and interactive enough to keep a young child’s attention and are far more かわいい than こわい, so you don’t have to worry about your little one getting scared. The eye-catching illustrations in these books also make them great for babies. All of the books except for one are board books as well so they are built to last. The text in the Japanese books are in hiragana with simple sentences, so these books are also wonderful study resources for those who are just starting out with learning how to read in Japanese.
These books can be found on Amazon Japan (click on the name of the book or the images below to be taken to their Amazon page). The Japanese books can also be found at your local bookstore while the English ones might be a bit trickier to find but you might have luck at a MARUZEN or KINOKUNIYA.
🕸️Halloween Picture Books in Japanese🕸️
This book is a classic in Japan that was originally published in 1969 but is still popular today. It looks at different creatures that are awake at night, including a ghost, and a child who can’t sleep (ねないこ). It’s not exactly about Halloween but it’s definitely spooky enough for the season. My daughter first read this book at daycare and I was surprised that she wasn’t afraid of the ghost — in fact, she learned the Japanese word for ghost (おばけ) thanks to this book! Note that this is the only book on this list that is not a board book, though it is hardcover.
かくれんぼ means “hide-and-seek” in Japanese and on each page, a Halloween-themed object or creature is hiding and waiting to be revealed with a turn of the page. The shapes and colors are excellent for stimulating your child’s imagination and the book has plenty of pages so there’s a lot for your baby or toddler to discover as you ask them what or who could possibly be hidden within the page (“なにかな?”, “だれかな?”). Some of the text is also in both Japanese and English, making it perfect for bilingual babies.
This sturdy and interactive board book follows the adventures of different ghosts (おばけ) that can change (へんしん) into something else on every page with a swipe of a finger or a pull of a tab. The contrasting colors also make this a great book for babies as young as newborns. It’s a short book but my daughter loves it.
In this book, children try to guess what Halloween characters are hiding behind the flaps. The flaps are as big as the page and have colorful illustrations on the other side as well, so it’s quite fun for children to look at. And although it has plenty of pages, it’s an incredibly light book, which makes it very portable. However, if you have a child who likes to destroy books, you might want to steer clear of this one as it isn’t the most durable.
いないないばあ! means “peek-a-boo!” and is a game children from all around the world know and love, and my daughter is no exception. She’s especially fond of saying ばあ! so this book was perfect for her. This is another pull-the-flap book in which your child tries to find where the different adorable Halloween monsters are hiding, but unlike other books, the colorful flaps are felt, making it’s a fun sensory activity for your child. The flaps are also very easy to lift and the text is minimal, so if you want to introduce pull-the-flap books to your baby, this is an excellent one to start with. The author of this book is Swedish and there’s an English version too, which you can find here.
🕸️Halloween Picture Books in English🕸️
Spot the Dog books are classics so of course I had to get one of several Halloween versions for my daughter who adores Spot (her father has become a fan too!). Like all Spot books, this book has flaps that you or your child can lift to see what’s hiding underneath. My daughter loves books with flaps — a little too much sometimes, I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to glue flaps back on, but the look on her face makes it worth it.
Another favorite of my daughter is The Very Hungry Caterpillar. This book and all of its related toys and other products are very popular in Japan, which is why I bought this Halloween version to read to her daycare classmates. In this book, the caterpillar journeys through an autumn night and discovers creepy crawly things hiding under flaps. The illustrations are colorful and the cover is iridescent, giving it a magical appearance. I also quite liked the simple, rhyming text.
When I was checking out English-language Halloween books in the MARUZEN near Tokyo Station, I knew immediately that this book would be a hit with my daughter, and I wasn’t wrong. She pulls it out herself from her little bookshelf and asks me to read it several times in a row! In this book, your child follows Spooky Boo throughout a haunted house and meets many spooky characters. It is fun and interactive, with flaps to lift, mirrors to see your (or is it?) reflection, and feel something… sticky?! My daughter especially loves it if I say “Spooky Boo!” in a loud and ridiculous voice. The look on her face makes reading this book over, and over, and over again worth it. (Personally, I think the writing could be better but hey, I guess that’s what makes it perfect for babies and toddlers!)
This is an adorable board book with colorful pages that is especially perfect for babies. The top has a triangular piece of felt that changes into different things, from a raccoon’s ear to a spider’s hat, so it’s stimulating for a toddler’s imagination and nice for babies to touch and feel. It’s a short, simple, and sweet little Halloween book.
Are there any Japanese or English Halloween books you would recommend for babies/toddlers? If so, let me know in the comments, and I hope everyone has a spooky and safe Halloween!