...And the goblins will get ya if ya don't watch out!
September 29, 2014 8:52 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for creepy couplets, spooky sonnets, and other Halloween-y poems to share with younger children. Shorter is better, and I'm not interested in the overtly gross.

Kids are 5 and 3, so nothing too bad.

I immediately think of The Raven, which is a little long for my target audience. I'll be sure to recite Little Orphant Annie. What else? Something around 4 or 8 lines long (that I could commit to memory!) would be great, but I might get them to sit still for something longer.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed to Writing & Language (20 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Not spooky, but simple enough the kids can learn it as well:

Five little pumpkins sitting on the gate. (Hold up 5 fingers.)
The first one said, “Oh, my it’s getting late.” (Hold up thumb.)
The second one said, “There are witches in the air.” (Hold up index finger.)
The third one said, “But I don’t care.” (Hold up middle finger.)
The fourth one said, “Let’s run and run and run.” (Hold up ring finger.)
The fifth one said, “I’m ready for some fun.” (Hold up pinky.)
Ooooo! Went the wind, and out went the light. (Blow through hands, then clap.)
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight! (Roll hands behind back.)
posted by snowymorninblues at 9:03 AM on September 29, 2014 [5 favorites]

I got these Six Spooky Minicomics with my subscription and they were really cute and fit the bill.
posted by jillithd at 9:04 AM on September 29, 2014

Have you seen the ghost of John?
Long white bones with the skin all gone.
Wouldn't you be chilly with no skin on?
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:07 AM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

How about The Gashlicrumb Tinies?

A is for Amy who fell down the stairs
B is for Basil, assaulted by bears

C is for Clara, who wasted away
D is for Desmond, thrown out of a sleigh...
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:09 AM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Haunted, Shel Silverstein:

I dare you all to go into
The Haunted House on Howlin’ Hill,
Where squiggly things with yellow eyes
Peek past the wormy window sill.
We’ll creep into the moonlit yard,
Where weeds reach out like fingers,
And through the rotted old front door
A-squeakin’ on it hinges,
Down the dark and whisperin’ hall,
Past the musty study,
Up the windin’ staircase--
Don’t step on the step that’s bloody--
Through the secret panel
To the bedroom where we’ll slide in
To the ragged cobweb dusty bed
Ten people must have died in.
And the bats will screech,
And the spirits will scream,
And the thunder will crash
Like a horrible dream,
And we’ll sing with the zombies
And dance with the dead.
And howl at the ghost
With the axe in his head,
And--come to think of it what do you say
We go get some ice cream instead?
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:12 AM on September 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

Oh, I'm being eaten by a boa constrictor!, also by Shel Silverstein.
posted by workerant at 9:16 AM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

hist whist
posted by bink at 9:25 AM on September 29, 2014

In a Dark, Dark Room (and other scary stories)

Short, easy language. Includes some interesting takes for kids on spooky urban legends like the ghostly hitchhiker. Not really scary, though.
posted by anastasiav at 9:36 AM on September 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

"The Goblin Market" by Christina Rossetti is a personal favorite. Obviously it's longer than 4 or 8 lines -- but I think the right reader could definitely keep a young audience's attention with this piece.
posted by fignewton at 11:23 AM on September 29, 2014

Up the airy mountain
Down the rocky glen
We daren't go a-hunting
For fear of little men

Wee folk, good folk
Trooping all together
Green Jacket, Red Cap
And White Owl's Feather.

Oldie but goodie. Though it's a bit long.
posted by glasseyes at 11:48 AM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

"rushy glen"
posted by glasseyes at 11:55 AM on September 29, 2014

Mom used to recite Dem Bones with us at that age.

(Of course, we also did a lot of stuff that by today's standards might be considered "overtly gross" or "too bad," so it's kind of hard for me to judge.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:15 PM on September 29, 2014

(The fun part of "Dem Bones," of course, is acting it out.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:16 PM on September 29, 2014

Some good things here, especially Jack Prelutsky, who is always fun for little ones.
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:20 PM on September 29, 2014

Seconding Shel Silverstein and Edward Gorey. Look through Uncle Google's library and you'll find all sorts of things to choose from - all lengths, all levels of creep.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:44 PM on September 29, 2014

Three little ghost-ies,
Sitting on post-ies,
Eating buttered toas-ties
Greasing their fist-ies,
Up to their wrist-ies.
Wern't they beas-ties!
posted by PJMoore at 3:50 PM on September 29, 2014

Another song from my childhood...

Jack-o-Lantern Jack-o-lantern
You are such a funny sight!
As you sit there in the window
Looking out at the night.

You were once a yellow pumpkin
growing on a sturdy vine.
Now you are a Jack-o-lantern
See your candle light shine!
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:18 PM on September 29, 2014

This is a song my dad taught me when I was little:

Oh what funny
Things are seen
Witches' hats
Big black cats
Ghosts and goblins
Mice and rats.
posted by apartment dweller at 5:19 PM on September 29, 2014

A woman stood at the churchyard door
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah
As many another woman had done before
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah
Saw three corpses carried in
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah
Very long and very thin
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah
Worms crawled in and worms crawled out
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah
Went in thin and came out stout
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah
Woman to the corpses said
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah
"Will I be like you when I am dead?"
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah
Corpses to the woman said:
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 6:17 AM on September 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales for Children (scroll down)
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 6:19 AM on September 30, 2014

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