If you are trying to avoid the candy-focus of so many Halloween celebrations, you will probably want to create your own family traditions that your children will look forward to.
Tell your children stories. Help them see holidays as time to sit and reflect with family
Over time, you might develop your own family stories. Until you get there, I have a few last-minute suggestions for stories.
For my family, Halloween in our big holiday of the year. It’s our new year. We focus on what is happening in nature as it gets colder outside but the snow hasn’t yet fallen—or hasn’t yet stayed. We rake leaves, jump in them, then rake them again. We draw on our pumpkin—our one pumpkin that grew this year—then we cut it up to make soup.
And, we tell stories. We tell stories about ancestors in the tradition of Day of the Dead, Ghost Festival, Samhain, and All Souls Night. We tell stories about the season. We tell funny stories.
We also have fun dressing up and going to parties with friends, but we reserve a part of the day and night for our family celebration.
Tell stories out of your imagination, stories that pull your children in as the adventurous protagonists. My children still love this, and they still tell one another stories. They write stories, comic books, novels, animated tales. They expect to be part of the adventure.
If you aren’t quite ready to make up stories for your children, you could collect stories and books, experimenting to find your favorites.
It’s a bit late to be looking for books for this year, so I’ve gathered a few Halloween stories you can share with your children right now.
For very young children, 2-4 years old. “Little Orange House” is a short, active story that will surprise little kids. I don’t want to give it away, so you’ll have to watch to see the surprise. Nothing scary at all. Watch the video, and look at the collection of other non-scary stories and songs for young children. You will need a couple of simple props to tell this story to your children.
For young children, 5-7 years old. “The Witch Who Was Frightened of Halloween” is an audio story, 9 minutes long, about Katie, an ordinary little girl who happens to be a witch. You can read or listen to this story.
For older children, age varies. If you want to venture into more scary stories, how about choosing old stories and folktales. American Folklore has a dozen spooky but not quite turn-your-hair-white frightening stories for children. These aren’t the sweet, predictable stories often written for young children. These are stories collected by folklorists from old tellers of tales. If you need more horror or fright, look for their “Scary Stories” and “Supernatural Stories.” You can either read or listen to these stories.
It’s Your Halloween!
To create the holiday you want your children to have, it only takes a little preparation and a little time to bring the focus where you want it to be for your family: nature, the season, celebration, fun, and maybe a little bit of scary screaming. Happy Halloween.