I have a skull sitting on my desk at home. Not only does it look really cool, but it makes me feel like the writer of some sort of dark academia series. His name is Mickey*, he’s made of painted plastic, and when you pick him up, his bottom jaw drops in a way that looks like he’s smiling. He’s a delight!

I’m telling you all this because Mickey inspired the idea for this blog post the other day. With fall beginning and Halloween approaching, how fun would it be to include a blog post with books about skulls, skeletons, and bones? The first four books on this list are for children, but they can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. The final book is the first in a cozy mystery series and is recommended for adults.

The Skull (Jon Klassen)

I love this book so much! In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I finished, put it to the side for a day or so, and then picked it up and read it again! This is a fairy tale about a young girl on the run, who finds a castle inhabited by a skull. The skull offers her protection, shelter, food, and good company, but reveals a dark secret that it endures at night.

What makes this book so much fun (in this librarian’s opinion) is the blending of not only beautiful artwork with muted colors, but the book’s dry sense of humor and the fact that it was inspired by a trip to the library! Klassen goes into detail in the back of his book, so I don’t want to tell you too much, but it was an interesting story and I happen to own the book that inspired this one!

Things in the Basement (Ben Hatke)

If you want to see what my plastic skull looks like, read this book. The skull that features in Ben Hatke’s middle-grade graphic novel could easily be an artist’s rendering of Mickey! This story follows Milo, a young boy who has just moved with his family to a new house. When his baby sister’s sock goes missing, his mother sends him into the basement to retrieve it, neither one of them realizing just how deep the basement goes. Milo progresses on an increasingly strange adventure, making new friends and dodging hungry monsters as he tries to not only find the missing sock, but to find his way home again, as well.

This book is muted and atmospheric, and while there are some frightening moments, it’s not graphic or overly scary.

Skeleton for Dinner (Margery Cuyler)

Big Witch and Little Witch whip up a delicious stew and decide to invite all their friends to come and enjoy the feast. But, Skeleton overhears his friends talking about “having him for dinner” and convinces his friends Ghost and Ghoul that all three of them are on the menu! When she can’t find her dinner guests, Little Witch can’t understand what happened, so it’s up to another denizen of the haunted forest to set things right again. This sweet and silly Halloween tale shows how misunderstandings can get out of hand, and is a perfect read-together book for those darkening fall evenings.

If You Ever Meet a Skeleton (Rebecca Evans)

Growing up, skeletons were never one of the scariest Halloween monsters for me. That was reserved from Frankensteins and Draculas. But, even so, skeletons can certainly be frightening! After all, what’s scarier than being chased by the clackity-clack of bones? But, as this little book proves, skeletons are not nearly as scary as we think. They can’t run fast, they’re terrible at hide-and-seek, and they’re scared of everything! When a group of trick-or-treaters run into an actual skeleton on an enchanted Halloween night, they do everything they can to get away. But, what does the skeleton really want? Perhaps, it’s just looking for a friend! But, is friendship with a skeleton a trick or a treat? You’ll have to read this book to find out!

A Skeleton in the Family (Leigh Perry)

Moving back into her parents’ house with her teenage daughter had not been Georgia Thackery’s “Plan A”. But, when she got a job at the local college, it seemed to be the sensible thing to do. So, she settled in and began reconnecting with old friends. Including Sid. Sid has been living in the house as long as Georgia can remember. He’s pretty much a part of the family. Also, he’s a literal skeleton. No one, not even Sid knows where he came from or how he came to be a skeleton. He walks, talks, tells bad jokes, and tries to keep the family dog at arm’s length (to avoid becoming a chew toy). And he finally convinces Georgia to let him leave the house. But, when a trip to an anime convention sparks memories of the past, Sid becomes determined to find out how he died. And the investigation unearths a killer who is very much alive and well…and bad to the bone.

*In case you’re wondering, the name is not in reference to the famous Disney mouse. He’s named after the gardener in the 1958 horror film, The Screaming Skull. I also have a bird skeleton (adopted from the drug store around Halloween several years ago) named Bedlo (after Peter Lorre’s character in the 1963 version of The Raven). Both of these movies are excellent, and are recommended for adults or teens.


I'm the Reader's Advisory Librarian at WPPL. My interests include old horror films, classic novels, manga and anime, paper-crafting, and plants. If you like my suggestions, you can request personalized recommendations from me on My Librarian page.