The best books about pumpkins

Who picked these books? Meet our 11 experts.

11 authors created a book list connected to pumpkins, and here are their favorite pumpkin books.
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By Cindy Ott,

Book cover of Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon

Lesley Pratt Bannatyne Author Of Halloween Nation: Behind the Scenes of America's Fright Night

From the list on Halloween celebrations.

Who am I?

I have loved Halloween since I ran through the suburban streets of southern Connecticut with ears and a tail. For more than thirty years I’ve been researching and writing about the holiday, and each year I find something new. Most of all, I’m a Halloween advocate: At Halloween we can wrap our arms around the reality of the other 364 days and satirize, exorcize, and celebrate it. The joy of Halloween is not that it’s dark and we revel in that; it’s that Halloween can bring a bit of light and laughter into the darkness. And, of course, it’s big, creative, candy-fueled fun.

Lesley's book list on Halloween celebrations

Discover why each book is one of Lesley's favorite books.

Why did Lesley love this book?

Not only is this a complete history of pumpkins – it’s a fascinating history of America. There’s good, solid jack-o-lantern history alongside descriptions and photos of the gazillion ways we celebrate, decorate, grow, eat, idolize, and display pumpkins. Emerging as a symbol of lust in medieval Europe, the pumpkin became synonymous with the American wilderness, then came to stand for rustic life, and now Halloween. If you like history and Americana as well as Halloween, you’ll like this one. And if you’re a Halloween nerd like I am, you’ll love the 100 pages of footnotes.

By Cindy Ott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pumpkin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why do so many Americans drive for miles each autumn to buy a vegetable that they are unlikely to eat? While most people around the world eat pumpkin throughout the year, North Americans reserve it for holiday pies and other desserts that celebrate the harvest season and the rural past. They decorate their houses with pumpkins every autumn and welcome Halloween trick-or-treaters with elaborately carved jack-o'-lanterns. Towns hold annual pumpkin festivals featuring giant pumpkins and carving contests, even though few have any historic ties to the crop.

In this fascinating cultural and natural history, Cindy Ott tells the story of…

Too Many Pumpkins

By Linda White, Megan Lloyd (illustrator),

Book cover of Too Many Pumpkins

Melanie Heuiser Hill Author Of Around the Table That Grandad Built

From the list on sharing food.

Who am I?

I am a children’s author who loves to eat and bake and cook and gather with others around a table. My writing somehow always has details about people coming together around favorite foods and drinks, enjoying the company of family and friends. Is it any wonder these are the sorts of books I love to read, as well?

Melanie's book list on sharing food

Discover why each book is one of Melanie's favorite books.

Why did Melanie love this book?

Rebecca Estelle hates pumpkins—and this is something kids can hardly imagine. (Certainly, the gorgeous art makes you wonder how anyone could hate pumpkins!) But Rebecca Estelle had a chapter in life where pumpkins were pretty much all she had to eat and so she is sick of them.

However, when she accidentally grows an enormous pumpkin patch, Rebecca Estelle has to deal with the loathed pumpkins. And deal with them she does—pies and muffins and tarts and cookies and roasted seeds come out of her kitchen. She carves fabulous jack-o-lanterns (a magical two-page spread!) and her neighbors show up. “We thought you hated pumpkins!” they say. And Rebecca Estelle presses pumpkin treats and seeds into their hands.

By Linda White, Megan Lloyd (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Too Many Pumpkins as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What can you do with too many pumpkins?

Rebecca Estelle has hated pumpkins ever since she was a girl when pumpkins were often the only food her family had. When an enormous pumpkin falls off a truck and smashes in her yard, she shovels dirt over the pieces and forgets about them. But those slimy pumpkin smithereens sprout up in autumn, and Rebecca Estelle finds a sea of pumpkins in her garden. 

A heartwarming classic for more than twenty years, this story shows what happens when one thrifty gardener figures out how to make other people happy with the squash…

Book cover of How to Help a Pumpkin Grow

Jacqueline Rogers Author Of Goblin Moon

From the list on Halloween illustrated.

Who am I?

I grew up next to a cemetery, and being an avid young artist, I loved to draw all kinds of monsters and spooky themes. Halloween books are a perfect way to express my creepy…but not too creepy side. When I look at Halloween picture books, I'm immediately focused on the pictures, long before I read the story. What medium did the artist use? How do they depict night scenes? Are they realistic or stylized? How interesting are their characters? Halloween picture books are a perfect way to create moody and somewhat scary scenes that balance the creepy with the not-so-creepy. Kids love to be scared, but we don’t want to give them nightmares! 

Jacqueline's book list on Halloween illustrated

Discover why each book is one of Jacqueline's favorite books.

Why did Jacqueline love this book?

What I loved most about Ashley Wolff’s How to Help a Pumpkin Grow was her color! This luscious book is filled with gorgeous, intense full-spectrum color! Wolff’s wet on wet washes flow seamlessly into each other as a base layer. I am guessing, there may be some smooth pastel added to enhance the color in places. Wolff’s adept painting skill brings out details with multi-colored painted line work on top of the washes. 

Unusual touches like the addition of saturated royal blue to highlight the black coat of the dog and crow feathers add an interesting pop of color. The great asset of acrylic gouache is that it can be both transparent or opaque, enabling Wolff to add light line work on top of dark washes.

Gorgeous work, Ashley Wolff!

By Ashley Wolff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Help a Pumpkin Grow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What does it take to help a pumpkin grow? Find out in this warm, rhyming tale of gardening and unexpected friendship.

Dog is planting a garden, doing all he can to help his pumpkins grow: protecting them from snow, weeding and watering their patch, and keeping them safe from barnyard creatures who might eat the sprouts! But are Crow, Rabbit, Duck, and Goat really out to destroy the garden? Or are they be new friends hoping to pitch in and help the pumpkins thrive?

B Is for Boo

By Greg Paprocki (illustrator),

Book cover of B Is for Boo: A Halloween Alphabet

Caralyn M. Buehner Author Of Snowmen at Halloween

From the list on Halloween for the very young.

Who am I?

The world opened to me in a safe space when I learned to read as a child, and by 6th grade, inspired by Jo March, I hoped to be an author and regularly hauled stacks of books home from the library. I had put aside my dream of writing until my marriage to Mark Buehner. It was his career as an illustrator that opened up a path for me, and together we have created many picture books, including the Snowmen at Night series. I’ve learned that stories are told with pictures as well as words, and beautiful picture books can be savored at any age.

Caralyn's book list on Halloween for the very young

Discover why each book is one of Caralyn's favorite books.

Why did Caralyn love this book?

It might be unusual to choose an alphabet book intended for babies and toddlers in a selection of Halloween books, but the art in this book and others in this series is worth collecting, even if you don’t have little ones to share the book with. There have been a lot of little ones reading books on my lap over the years, both my own children and now grandchildren, and I’ve learned that there are certain favorites that I might as well keep close at hand rather than shelve in the hallway with the other picture books. A few years ago I stumbled across B Is for Boo, and I loved the illustrations so much that I have collected nearly a dozen more books in Greg Paprocki’s series of alphabet books. The illustration style might best be described as “retro,” and whether readers grew up in the 1960s like…

By Greg Paprocki (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked B Is for Boo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Introduce your brilliant baby to the ABCs with this illustrated primer about Halloween.

Greg Paprocki’s popular retro-style series of sturdy board book alphabet primers expands to introduce brilliant babies and toddlers to one of the most popular holidays on the calendar: Halloween. Just as other books in this series make learning history fun and engaging for children, this volume will fuel the anticipation of your child’s first Halloween and help to expand their vocabulary in the process.

B Is for Boo: A Halloween Alphabet features a collection of twenty-six illustrations featuring Halloween-themed concepts, including imaginative costumes, oodles of treats, pumpkins…

Biggest Pumpkin Ever

By Steven Kroll, Jeni Bassett (illustrator),

Book cover of Biggest Pumpkin Ever

Margery Cuyler Author Of Bonaparte Falls Apart

From the list on children’s books for Halloween.

Who am I?

I’ve spent my career as a publisher, editor, and writer of children’s books, having worked for or published with Macmillan, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Amazon, and other houses. Having written and edited a number of Halloween stories, I’m always on the lookout for new ones—and I also enjoy going back and reading the classics in this genre as well. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a haunted house or because I’m the youngest of nine kids who celebrated Halloween in a big way. I retired from full-time work a few years ago and now devote my time to writing children’s books and consulting. We’ve just moved into a new house, and who knows? Maybe it’s haunted!

Margery's book list on children’s books for Halloween

Discover why each book is one of Margery's favorite books.

Why did Margery love this book?

Two adorable mice enter a contest, one to carve the biggest jack-o’-lantern ever, the other to grow the biggest pumpkin ever. It turns out that they fall in love with the same pumpkin. One waters it during the day. The other waters it at night. Neither mouse knows about the other’s efforts. When they discover that they’re each contributing to the same pumpkin’s growth, they decide to work together to win the competition. This classic book with endearing illustrations will appeal to kids who love pumpkins and who value cooperative effort to achieve success.

By Steven Kroll, Jeni Bassett (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Biggest Pumpkin Ever as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Desmond and Clayton must work together to win the Biggest Pumpkin competition, in this popular bestselling picture book.

Once there were two mice who fell in love with the same pumpkin....Desmond the field mouse wants to carve the biggest jack-o'-lantern in the neighborhood with his pumpkin. Clayton the house mouse wants to win the Biggest Pumpkin contest with his. But when they discover that their choice pumpkins are actually the same one, Desmond and Clayton decide to work together to grow the biggest pumpkin ever!


By Lucy Ruth Cummins,

Book cover of Stumpkin

Tracy C. Gold Author Of Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat

From the list on Halloween picture books with cute illustrations.

Who am I?

I am a huge fan of Halloween and love decorating my porch to greet our neighborhood kids. This past year I gave away a couple dozen copies of my own picture books along with candy, which was a huge hit. I live in Baltimore with my family, including my silly, spooky kid, and love animals, especially dogs and horses. This past Halloween, my daughter wanted to dress up as a dentist, of all things, so my husband and I went along dressed up as giant teeth. She never got the irony of asking for candy while dressed as a dentist. We’ll have to wait until she is older for that. 

Tracy's book list on Halloween picture books with cute illustrations

Discover why each book is one of Tracy's favorite books.

Why did Tracy love this book?

The simplicity of the illustrations here is so marvelous and cute! I love how this book shows that you don’t have to be just like the other pumpkins—or the other kids—to be happy and find your place in the world. This is a nice, short one (which is so needed for bedtime), and the pages where the pumpkin is getting carved are so striking and illustrated. Don’t worry, kids won’t be scared about the dear pumpkin getting carved—it’s presented as the pumpkin’s biggest dream to be a jack o’ lantern! 

By Lucy Ruth Cummins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stumpkin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the critically acclaimed author and illustrator of A Hungry Lion comes a unique Halloween story about a stemless pumpkin who dreams of becoming a jack-o-lantern.

Stumpkin is the most handsome pumpkin on the block. He’s as orange as a traffic cone! Twice as round as a basketball! He has no bad side! He’s perfect choice for a Halloween jack-o-lantern.

There’s just one problem—Stumpkin has a stump, not a stem. And no one seems to want a stemless jack-o-lantern for their window.

As Halloween night approaches, more and more of his fellow pumpkins leave, but poor Stumpkin remains. Will anyone…

The Rough Patch

By Brian Lies,

Book cover of The Rough Patch

Karen Toothaker Author Of The Rag Doll Gift

From the list on children dealing with death, grief, and loss.

Who am I?

As an early childhood educator, I have firsthand experience with the effectiveness of picture books to stimulate the mind, open conversation, offer emotional support, and provide us all with the fundamentals of understanding ourselves and others. I have supported children and families suffering a loved one’s death by sharing picture books with them. My book, The Rag Doll Gift is based on the true story of my mother who died before giving my youngest her doll. This story was born when my daughter received her doll and said, in all her six-year-old wisdom, “Grammie is still saying” I love you” even when we can’t hear her anymore”

Karen's book list on children dealing with death, grief, and loss

Discover why each book is one of Karen's favorite books.

Why did Karen love this book?

The title of this book, to me, speaks volumes. When you are grieving, you are literally living in a rough patch. Death, loss, and grief can feel rough, dark, lonely, and hopeless.

When Evan’s dog dies, he is so filled with sadness and anger that he destroys the garden they loved. Evan wanted, no needed, to turn it into “the saddest and most desolate spot he could.” However, the healing powers of nature and love slowly ease their way back in, smoothing over the rough patch and creating beauty again.

I, and the children I share this story with, always feel in our hearts more than know in our heads, all the feels that are so beautifully written into this book.

By Brian Lies,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Rough Patch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Caldecott Honor Book

An ALA Notable Book

A breathtakingly beautiful and luminescent book that is pitch-perfect for anyone of any age who has experienced any type of loss or disappointment, from New York Times-bestselling picture book creator Brian Lies.

New York Times-bestselling author-illustrator Brian Lies has created a beautiful, accessible, and deeply personal story about friendship, loss, and renewal. The Rough Patch was awarded a Caldecott Honor and features stunning paintings from the award-winning creator of Bats at the Beach.

Evan and his dog do everything together, from eating ice cream to caring for their prize-winning garden, which grows…


By Leslie Patricelli,

Book cover of Boo!

Katie Vernon Author Of Happy Halloweenie

From the list on Halloween boards for little ghouls and goblins.

Who am I?

Although I was a little scared of Halloween as a kid, I’ve grown to love the silly side of spookiness. Growing up with Pee-Wee’s Playhouse every Saturday morning, I learned that silliness is a superpower. Now, when working on kids books, my ultimate goal is to put work into the world that will delight kids, and won’t make the parents groan and say, “that one again?” Finding the sweet spot of being fun to read, fun to hear, and fun to look at is what I love most about creating kids books. I hope you and your little ghouls and goblins enjoy my spooky board Boooook list! 

Katie's book list on Halloween boards for little ghouls and goblins

Discover why each book is one of Katie's favorite books.

Why did Katie love this book?

I read my kiddo many Lesley Patricelli books when she was little and I would have loved to have read Boo! to her during Halloween (and beyond!).

From showing size differences between pumpkins to spreads where reader/listener can choose between jack-o’-lantern faces and costumes, Patricelli simplifies the season of Halloween in such a sweet way. It even addresses that Halloween might feel scary to a young kid – which as a kid who was too scared to trick-or-treat until many years after her friends had started, I truly appreciate. 

By Leslie Patricelli,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Boo! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The inimitable Baby brings a humorous spin to the holidays in a cheerful board book fit for trick-or-treat bags.

It’s almost Halloween! How should Daddy carve the pumpkin? So many expressions to choose from! What should Baby be—a princess or pirate, ballerina or clown? When the jack-o’-lantern’s ready (looking suspiciously like Baby), it’s time for a little ghost to head out in the slightly scary night. But fear turns to excitement as the pumpkin fills up with treats. WOW!

The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin

By Joe Troiano, Susan Banta (illustrator),

Book cover of The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin

Hillary Daecher Author Of Soar

From the list on rhyming picture books.

Who am I?

I am an award-winning children’s picture book author who writes stories about obstacles children encounter, focusing on the emotional and mental health of the character so children facing similar situations are able to relate. I have been writing poems and short stories since I was a child and all of my stories are written in rhyme. I love reading a rhyming book out loud and listening to the story unfold.

Hillary's book list on rhyming picture books

Discover why each book is one of Hillary's favorite books.

Why did Hillary love this book?

The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin is a fun Halloween read, but more importantly a wonderful story that shows the importance of acceptance. Spookley is unlike any other pumpkin in the patch because he is square instead of round. At first, the other pumpkins tease Spookley and are unkind to him because he is different. After a storm blows in and Spookley saves the day, the other pumpkins realize it doesn’t matter what Spookley looks like, what matters is the kind of pumpkin he is and how he showed kindness to others.

By Joe Troiano, Susan Banta (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin [paperback] Joe Troiano,Susan Banta [Jan 01, 2013]