If you’re in the mood for something spooky, we’ve got you covered with today’s guest post from Lilac Skully series author Amy Cesari. This is a perfect middle grade series to curl up with in the last days before Halloween — and to really get you in the mood, Amy has a great post today about throwing the perfect bookish Halloween party. Read on for all her tips, to learn more about the Lilac Skully books & enter to win a set for yourself!
How to Have a Bookish Halloween Party
By Amy Cesari
I’m Amy Cesari, author of the Lilac Skully books, a spooky series for middle grade readers of all ages. And like many authors of horror and scary books, I’ve been drawn to haunted tales for as long as I can remember.
The spirit and legends of Halloween stay alive through stories. Scary stories—from ancient folklore and fairy tales to modern pop-culture books and movies, give us a “safe” container in which we can experience the dark, the terrifying and the otherworldly. Books and stories allow us the space to experience, feel, and see what happens—all without actually putting ourselves in harm’s way or compromising our own values or personal ethics. In peering into the darkness, stories allow us to see our own light and fullest selves.
And so—to honor the power of the “scary story,” delve into the dark side of things this Halloween and throw yourself (or your friends!) a creepy yet bookish Halloween party.
Two sets of suggestions are given, one, to have a Halloween reading party by yourself. Because, why not? Lots of readers are introverted—myself included—so there’s no reason why you can’t create an atmosphere to enjoy just for yourself. The second set of suggestions is given to enjoy a bookish get-together with friends or family—because that can be fun, too!
Either way, I hope these ideas inspire you to get creative and celebrate this Halloween.
How to Have a Halloween Reading Party… by Yourself!
Get your spooky reading space ready! To me, there’s nothing spookier than reading in pitch black by flashlight. Set up a pillow-fort or reading nook with a few fairy lights, battery-powered candles, or just a flashlight (and extra batteries) if you prefer. Experiment with spooky background music or sound effects to enhance your reading experience. If you’re really bold—set up a tent with blankets in a dark corner of your yard (with your parent’s permission), or otherwise read outdoors at night.
- Snacks and Drinks
Make yourself something special to sip while reading. Hot apple cider, spiced “Mayan” hot chocolate with cinnamon and cayenne pepper, something with pumpkin spice, or a relaxing tea like chamomile and honey will all do the trick. The point is to make your hot drink a special part of the preparations—like an opening ceremony. You may or may not like to eat snacks while you read, so plan accordingly and gather any of your Halloween favorites. Note: you can’t go wrong with candy corn!
The suggested activity for the solo party is… to read a spooky book by yourself! Yes! So, once you’ve got your snacks and reading space setup… prepare to read.
Here are some suggested middle-grade horror books that are creepy but not too scary—just how I like them. Also check out the films and group activities listed below, as many can be adapted to enjoy by yourself.
Suggested Spooky Middle Grade Books:
- The Lilac Skully Series! By me, Amy Cesari 🙂
- Evangeline of the Bayou by Jan Eldredge
- Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon
- Bunnicula Series by James Howe
- The Bone Snatcher by Charlotte Salter
- Nightbooks by J.A. White
- The Ghost Road by Charis Cotter
- The Skeleton Tree by Kim Ventrella
- The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
- The Wolves Series by Joan Aiken
- John Bellairs Mysteries
- Matilda or The Witches by Roald Dahl
- Coraline or the Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
How to Have a Bookish Halloween Party with Friends
10 points to Gryffindor (or whatever house you are in) if you come up with decorations and snacks themed to a spooky book. Brainstorm a list of possibilities, or look on Pinterest or Google for “bookish halloween ideas” that spark your imagination and creativity. And there’s also nothing wrong with setting the mood in a “general” spooky or Halloween theme. It’s your call how creative you want to get with the nerdy details.
- Snacks and Drinks
The same kinds of snacks and drinks can work for a group—just make more of them to share! Get your mom or dad to make a big batch of hot apple cider in a slow-cooker, or prepare hot tea or cocoa in the same way. Pumpkin pie, candy, “green goo” guacamole, or anything “Halloween” themed will work (if you’re not recreating an entire banquet scene from Harry Potter, of course!).
Since it’s not a party if a group of people sit together and silently read, (although if that sounds fun to you and your guests… go for it!) I’ve listed several more activities that you can do with friends. However, most of these can be adapted for a solo party, too.
– Halloween Book swap! Everyone bring a favorite scary or spooky middle grade book and play a “gift exchange” game. While you’re at it, as your guests to also bring candy, cookies, treats, or snacks to share and swap. Solo idea: buy yourself some new Halloween books!
– Ask your guests to dress as their favorite literary character. Take it up a nerdy level, and read-aloud or act out favorite scenes from each character.
– Tell or read-aloud scary short stories while holding a flashlight below your face! Yes, this is cliche, but it’s also super fun! Attempt this with a group of friends and try not to laugh as you read Edgar Allen Poe in your spookiest, dead-scary voice.
– Listen to a scary audiobook in the dark as you sip hot cocoa or tea.
– Carve Jack-O-Lanterns in bookish themes and designs
– And, you can always sit back and watch a bookish Halloween movie, see a list of middle-grade appropriate favorites below.
Suggested Film and TV Adaptations of Spooky Middle Grade Books:
- Harry Potter, books by JK Rowling (because no one does a Halloween Feast like Hogwarts!)
- Frankenstein (or Frankenweenie!), original book by Mary Shelley
- Coraline, book by Neil Gaiman
- Matilda, book by Roald Dahl
- Hocus Pocus, new books by A.W. Jantha/Disney
- Goosebumps, books by RL Stine
- Lgend of Sleepy Hollow, book by Washington Irving
- (with parent’s permission!) IT or The Shining by Stephen King
- Something Wicked This Way Comes, book by Ray Bradbury
- Escape to Witch Mountain, book by Alexander Key
- Kiki’s Delivery Service – books by Eiko Kadono (not spooky but witchy and super cute!)
- The Worst Witch – books by Jill Murphy
- It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown (because The Peanuts was as comic, and that counts as a book)
I hope this inspires you to celebrate and read some scary stories this Halloween!
And make sure to enter the contest to win the first 3 books in the Lilac Skully Series.
Lilac Skully is afraid of ghosts. And a lot of other things, too. After her father’s mysterious disappearance, Lilac must find a way to deal with the notorious ghosts that haunt her home—or better yet—get them to leave.
But when intruders break in, Lilac realizes there’s a danger far worse than her spooky old house. No longer safe, Lilac will need to face her fears, trust herself, and make new friends that will change her life forever.
Lilac Skully and the Haunted House is the first book in the Supernatural Adventures of Lilac Skully, a series of fun, spooky stories with a lot of heart. If you like books about ghosts and awesome little girls—you’ll love this imaginative, haunted tale!
Follow Lilac’s Adventures:
- https://www.bookbub.com/profile/amy-cesariThanks to Amy, one winner will receive a complete set of the first three paperbacks of the Lilac Skully series:
- Lilac Skully and the Haunted House
- Lilac Skully and the Carriage of Lost Souls
- Lilac Skully and the Halloween Moon