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With the leaves turning brown, the nights drawing in, and Halloween on the way, it’s the perfect time to settle down with some magical, witchy stories – and this goes for child readers just as much as adults. The witch has been a popular figure in spooky tales for a long time, whether as a villain, a heroine, or a chaotic neutral wild card (think of the forest witch in Brave). Witches in children’s stories run the gamut from scary, powerful antagonist to endearingly clumsy main character, but in all cases, they’re fascinating figures who bring a touch of magic and mayhem into every narrative.
If the young trick-or-treaters in your life are looking for more stories about witches, there are dozens of options, ranging from picture books aimed at very young readers, through chapter books for those building their confidence, to longer reads for older children who are seeking to scare or inspire themselves with a witchy tale. Here are 15 witch books for kids, with a mix of spooky horror tales, fun school stories, and enchantingly-illustrated picture books, which will keep the young magic fans in your life entertained long past Halloween night.
Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega
Claribel A. Ortega’s debut novel is a nail-bitingly exciting adventure, following best friends Lucely and Syd as they accidentally release malicious spirits in their town after casting a spell that goes wrong. The bad spirits threaten not only the town, but also Lucely’s ancestors, who take the form of firefly spirits. The two girls must work together, with the help of Syd’s grandmother Babette, an experienced witch, and her unusual cat Chunk. A fun and spooky but not-too-scary book for middle grade readers, Ghost Squad is a must-read.
The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy
The late great Jill Murphy is the queen of the “magical boarding school” genre, and her Worst Witch books are beloved by several generations of readers. Following the adventures of the hapless Mildred Hubble, a student at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches, the stories explore friendship dynamics and bullying alongside Mildred’s often disastrous attempts to learn magic. In the first novel, The Worst Witch, Mildred must train her beloved witch’s cat Tabby, while avoiding falling foul of the terrifying teacher Miss Hardbroom.
Winnie the Witch by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul
This laugh-out-loud picture book is the perfect choice for families to read together. Winnie is a force of pure, hilarious chaos, and when she tries to find a solution to constantly tripping over her black cat Wilbur inside her black house full of black furniture, the spell she casts so that she can always see him has unexpected consequences. Korky Paul’s illustrations are full of fun details that young children will love spotting, and there are many more books about Winnie and Wilbur for the family to enjoy.
Pretty by Canizales
Another picture book, this one uses the figure of the witch to deal with body image issues and beauty standards, through simple, effective illustrations. In Pretty, a witch is getting ready for a date, and seeks advice from a number of different forest creatures to improve her looks – but changing her appearance means she may not be the same person.
The Whitby Witches by Robin Jarvis
A truly spine-chilling read, The Whitby Witches scared me quite a bit when I read it as a child. Orphans Ben and Jennet travel to the town of Whitby – a town which will be very familiar to fans of Dracula – to live with their elderly relative Alice, who is soon revealed to be part of a coven of witches. However, the witches aren’t the only supernatural creatures living in Whitby, and the children realise that they are in more danger than they could have possibly imagined.
The Bewitching of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes
The sequel to the chilling The Haunting of Aveline Jones, this story follows Aveline as she investigates another supernatural mystery. Aveline and her mother are on holiday, and the cottage they’re staying at is next to a stone circle known as the Witch Stones. While she learns as much as she can about the stones, Aveline befriends a girl known as Hazel, who is more than the ordinary young girl that she seems.
Witchlings by Claribel A. Ortega
I’ve been eagerly awaiting Witchlings ever since I finished Ghost Squad – while it’s not a sequel, it looks like an equally fun and witchy middle grade romp. Young witch Seven Salazar is looking forward to being assigned to one of the major covens, but after the Black Moon Ceremony, she becomes a Spare: one of a collection of witchlings without a coven. Seven and her new friends must complete the Impossible Task to become a real coven, or risk being turned into toads.
Not Just a Witch by Eva Ibbotson
Newly graduated witch Heckie has a unique talent: she can turn people into animals. After meeting a young boy, Daniel, the pair of unlikely friends set out to rid the world of evil people – including the leader of a fascist political party – by turning them into cute and cuddly critters. However, when Heckie gets romantically involved with the suspicious Lionel Knapsack, Daniel must reunite her with her estranged college friend and prevent her from becoming involved in a particularly evil plan.
Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono
Kiki’s Delivery Service is perhaps best-known as the beloved Studio Ghibli film, but before it was an animated classic, it was a book. Kiki is a young witch who, like all other new witches, has to live in a new town for one year and build up her magical practice. However, settling into the seaside town of Koriko proves more difficult than she initially thought, and Kiki must use all her determination and resolve to help her neighbours.
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
One for older child readers, Akata Witch is the first in a trilogy by the fantastic Nnedi Okorafor. Twelve-year-old Sunny has recently moved to Nigeria, and is having difficulty adjusting to her new life after growing up in New York. With her new friends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny discovers that she has magical powers, and the three must work together to challenge a dangerous magic-user who is threatening local children.
Meg and Mog by Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski
This classic picture book has delighted child readers for over forty years. The first in a long-running series featuring the witch Meg and her cat Mog, Meg and Mog is a cute and wholesome snapshot of an erratic witch’s life, with striking, fun illustrations, and short sentences that are ideal for little ones who are just learning to read.
Amari and the Great Game by B. B. Alston
The second in B. B. Alston’s Supernatural Investigations series, magic user Amari is now a Junior Agent, following the unexpected events of her first year of training that saw her saving the entire supernatural world from a treacherous foe. Amari is a magician, and her particular powers mean that many people in the hidden world she inhabits mistrust her – which makes it even more difficult for her to tackle her second year and to work on lifting the curse that has been placed on her beloved older brother.
It’s Raining Bats and Frogs by Rebecca Colby and Steven Henry
It’s Raining Bats and Frogs is a cute, funny picture book, with silly rhymes that will have the whole family laughing during a read-out-loud session. Delia, a young witch, is trying to create the perfect weather for the Halloween parade, so she uses her magic to turn the heavy rain into cats and dogs, then hats and clogs, and so forth. As things get more and more out of control, can Delia save the day?
Lulu Goes to Witch School by Jane O’Connor
This short book for beginner readers follows Lulu, a witch who starts school and meets a classmate who is much better than her at everything. Exploring childhood issues like starting at school, jealousy, and being yourself, with a fun witchy spin that kids will love, Lulu Goes to Witch School is a great choice for children who are gaining confidence at reading.
Witches of Brooklyn by Sophie Escabasse
In this beautifully drawn graphic novel, Effie goes to live with her two aunts and discovers that her family has a history of magical abilities. Effie learns to use her new-found powers, makes new friends, and realises that magic plays much more of a role in the world than she could ever have imagined.
These witch books for kids will spark your children’s imagination and open the doors to many different magical worlds that they can explore. Whether your child is a budding horror fan or prefers funny school stories with a witchy spin, these stories of witches and other magic users will give them plenty to get their teeth into, just in time for Halloween.
Older kid readers who still love witchy stories can find new favourite reads on our list of 8 Witchy YA Novels to Get You Ready For Halloween. Adult and child readers alike can add to their TBR with our rundown of 100 Must-Read Books About Witches.
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