Amy Cesari: “How to Have a Bookish Halloween Party” + Lilac Skully Contest

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!

  1. Atmosphere

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.

  1. 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!

  1. Activities

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:

  1. The Lilac Skully Series! By me, Amy Cesari 🙂
  2. Evangeline of the Bayou by Jan Eldredge
  3. Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon
  4. Bunnicula Series by James Howe
  5. The Bone Snatcher by Charlotte Salter
  6. Nightbooks by J.A. White
  7. The Ghost Road by Charis Cotter
  8. The Skeleton Tree by Kim Ventrella
  9. The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
  10. The Wolves Series by Joan Aiken
  11. John Bellairs Mysteries
  12. Matilda or The Witches by Roald Dahl
  13. Coraline or the Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman


How to Have a Bookish Halloween Party with Friends

  1. Atmosphere

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.

  1. 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!).

  1. Activities

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:

  1. Harry Potter, books by JK Rowling (because no one does a Halloween Feast like Hogwarts!)
  2. Frankenstein (or Frankenweenie!), original book by Mary Shelley
  3. Coraline, book by Neil Gaiman
  4. Matilda, book by Roald Dahl
  5. Hocus Pocus, new books by A.W. Jantha/Disney
  6. Goosebumps, books by RL Stine
  7. Lgend of Sleepy Hollow, book by Washington Irving
  8. (with parent’s permission!) IT or The Shining by Stephen King
  9. Something Wicked This Way Comes, book by Ray Bradbury
  10. Escape to Witch Mountain, book by Alexander Key
  11. Kiki’s Delivery Service – books by Eiko Kadono (not spooky but witchy and super cute!)
  12. The Worst Witch – books by Jill Murphy
  13. 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.

Home alone in a haunted house. What could go wrong?

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:

  • Lilac Skully and the Haunted House
  • Lilac Skully and the Carriage of Lost Souls
  • Lilac Skully and the Halloween Moon
US/Canada/Europe is fine—please expect 2 weeks for delivery. Contest ends at midnight (PT) on Wednesday, October 31st.
To enter, tell us one of your favorite books to read around Halloween in the comments below — then fill out the Rafflecopter form here to complete your entry & earn more chances to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

22 thoughts on “Amy Cesari: “How to Have a Bookish Halloween Party” + Lilac Skully Contest

Add yours

  1. I don’t have any specific books to read before Halloween. I read paranormal year round. Hard to find books that actually scare me. I am watching Haunting of Hill House right now and the Bent Neck Lady is freaky along with floaty guy.

  2. I’ve always liked Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman. I read this while taking a children’s literature class in college. I then did a flannel board display for a hands-on activity for the kids and I still have it. My granddaughter likes to get it out and after we read the story, she retells the story with the flannel board pieces I made. It’s a cute story about helping each other with all the Halloween characters. Of course, you have to use your Halloween voices. Now, she’s in school and she’s having her father read her Goosebump books.

  3. I always try to read some good horror books all throughout the month. I plan on reading The Graveyard Book right around Halloween!

    1. This is one of my favorites. Have you listened to the audio of this one? If not, you should….it is excellent!!

  4. I don’t have any specific books I read before Halloween, but I really enjoyed The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

  5. Thanks for all the great suggestions! I plan to look over my shelves and reread some favorites this Halloween. Maybe some of the Discworld books featuring the witches.

  6. This was a fantastic post. Love the spooky advice for having a bookish Halloween. I love starting the HP books around this time and reading them into the winter holidays. Good luck to all!

  7. We have a large family with 16 kids so Halloween is big at our house. The kids have to read “Sleepy Hollow” as well as watch the kid friendly Sleepy Hollow movie. Our girls love books about witch craft and spells they have become big fans of “Lilac Skully”.

  8. I like reading R.L. Stine books. However i just finished Lilac Skully and The Haunted House and I will definitely be re-reading this next Halloween season as well!

  9. There aren’t really any specific ones I read this time of year, though I couple years ago, I read Frankenstein, and I was really impressed, it wasn’t quite the story I expected.

  10. I dont have a favorite book to read before Halloween, but since watching The Haunting of Hill House, I will be reading the book as well.

  11. I always read pet cementary by Stephan king but to my kids I bring out scary stories to tell in the dark and read them hook

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