Scare me! Chilling Reads for Kids of All Ages

Halloween Books - Spooky Books

Halloween Books - Spooky Books

By Noelle, Librarian Extraordinaire

Halloween is upon us again, and I must admit, I love this holiday.  Many of us probably know of its pagan roots and that having bonfires and dressing up was to blend in with the dead who were coming back to walk among us.  Then the Romans came along with their own festivals, then the Christians, and before you know it, everything got mixed together in a huge melting pot of traditions.

Halloween – A Time For Spooky Fun

Now our kids dress up as princesses, pirates, puppies and Star Wars characters and instead of fearing to walk among the dead, they want candy and scary stories and spooky decorations.   We love to be scared in a safe environment.  One of my favorite Halloween memories as a child was getting my legs grabbed by a neighbor posed as a scarecrow on the front steps of his house while we were out trick or treating.  Scared the masks right off our faces, but we loved it.  Scary stories have always held a strong fascination for us, and kids are often no exception.  So here are some of my favorite reads for Halloween.  If your child has a more delicate constitution, you might want to skip these suggestions.

Just a Tad Bit Scary Halloween Stories for the Younger (Preschool to 2nd Grade) set:

1.  The Little Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything by Laura Williams. While technically not a Halloween story (it does have a pumpkin head, however), this gently spooky story tells of a brave old woman who is menaced on her way home through the forest by a variety of ghostly clothing articles.  Best thing about this book is how the kids can join in making the sounds and doing the motions.  Totally fun as a read-aloud.

2.  Annie Was Warned by Jarrett Krosoczka.  Annie is warned to stay away from the creepy mansion on Halloween, but she goes anyway.  What will she find there?  Easy to build suspense if you read it right.

3.  In a Dark, Dark Wood by David Carter. You’ve probably seen at least some version of this before: “In a dark, dark wood there was a dark, dark house and in that dark, dark house there was a…”  Lots of “dark dark” in there.  But if you read it slowly and give kids a chance to look at the pictures, the best page is the last—it is a popup (or should I say, pop out?) and if you do it suddenly, you might get a scream.

4.  Algernon Graeves is Scary Enough by Peter Bollinger.  Algernon can’t decide what to be for Halloween, and each costume idea is much better in his head than in reality.  The illustrations really make the story, and Algernon has the perfect solution to his problem.

5.  In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz. This is what we term an “easy reader” book, which kids who have a basic handle on reading should be able to get through themselves.  Either way, it is a collection of super-short, easy to read stories that are just a tad bit creepy to fulfill that itch kids have.  Fun to read aloud, too.

And some Truly Eerie Reads for the Older Set:

1.  Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz. Poor Alvin is one of the most maligned authors out there, just because he rewrote some truly spooky stories for kids drawn from folklore.   Parents don’t always appreciate the lengths he went to for their kids, so they try really hard to ban his books, but he’s still around.  He might be rolling in his grave over the protests, but he probably would just add that to one of this stories.  The stories are short and truly a mixed bag of creepy, ooky and gory.  Kids LOVE them.  You can follow this one up with More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Scary Stories 3.  But don’t blame me for the nightmares. I am just the messenger.

2.  Dare to Be Scared by Robert San Souci. Much like Alvin’s books, these are full of short, creepy tales, although they are not drawn from folklore.  There is also Double-Dare to Be Scared and Triple Dare to Be Scared.

3.  The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney.   This series follows the 7th son of a 7th son, Tom Ward, as he becomes a Spook’s apprentice and learns to fight the dark, including witches, boggarts, bugganes, ghasts, and more.  These are longer chapter books and not for the faint of heart—there is no shying away from gore and bloodthirsty creatures and killings and the themes are dark.  That aside, these make good spooky reading and there are seven so far in the series.

4.  Witch’s Sister by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Naylor is well-known for her more benign and heartwarming stories like Shiloh or the Alice series, but she does spooky awfully well.  Lynn is convinced her sister is learning witchcraft from their neighbor Mrs.Tuggle, and things come to a head when the kids are left with her for the weekend.  Scary stuff continues with the 4 other books in the series: The Witch’s Eye, Witch Water, The Witch Herself and Witch Weed.

5.  The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural by Patricia McKissack. The “dark-thirty” refers to the half hour before nightfall—the time the kids had to get home before the monsters came out at full dark.  The stories in this book are originals based in African-American and Southern history and that lends them an extra air of menace.    They highlight ghosts, conjure men, phantom death trains and more.

I hope that you and your kids enjoy these books as much as I have.  Now onto bigger questions, like what should I be for Halloween?

NoelleNoelle has been a children’s librarian for over 15 years. She’s also been a student teacher, worked as an online account manager, worked in a pet shop and as a supermarket checkout clerk, and as a dishwasher and fry cook. She is the proud mom of a beautiful daughter. You can read more of Noelle’s book reviews at Rave Reviews Log
Noelle can be reached at “Noelle @ DadDoes.Com”

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