March 28, 2009

THE FIVE: Best Scary Books for Kids

Posted by at 7:16 am in Reads | Permalink

I’m the type of girl who’s usually first in line at the movie theater for the latest scary flick. I like to be spooked — ghosts are a particular favorite of mine, but I’ll make do with aliens, or even monsters if need be.

Naturally, it’s no surprise that my bookshelves are lined with some super scary titles that I’ve read again and again — because the best scary stories are the ones that get scarier each time you read them!

So here are my top five favorite scary books for kids:

5. The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright
Prepare yourselves, readers, for the scariest dollhouse you’ve ever encountered. After reading this tale about a girl whose dollhouse holds terrifying secrets, I spent many a dark night consumed with dread over whether my dolls would start whispering confessions to me. Sadly, or luckily, they never did.

4. All the Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn
I myself wasn’t a troublemaker as a kid, which I suppose is why I found it fascinating to read about characters like Travis and Corey, siblings who have been kicked out of summer camp for being pranksters. They spend the summer at their grandmother’s inn, and what starts off as just another prank — staging fake ghost sightings and charging tourists for them — quickly turns all-too-real when they realize the inn actually is haunted! Some truly frightening moments make this book suitable for slightly older readers.

3. Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac (ages 12 and up)
Not to be confused with the new book Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman (another scary tale that combines video with reading!), Skeleton Man is tense, creepy, and unexpected. It weaves together some Native American history with modern-day references (it was written in 2001), and even though it’s seriously scary, it’s refreshing to read about a gutsy young girl who sets out to solve the mystery of her missing parents.

2. Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn
What can I say — Mary Downing Hahn is a master at telling scary stories! I actually hadn’t read this title until a friend of mine recently reminisced about it, sealing the deal for me when she mentioned it was truly, seriously scary. And it is — all graveyards and hauntings, converted churches and legends . . . and I couldn’t put it down. This one is not for the faint of heart!


1. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (ages 12 and up)
Sometimes the best reason to read a scary book is to learn that not all “scary” things are dangerous — or all that frightening. This 2009 Newbery Medal winner starts off with a terrifying scene, but ultimately, the ghosts of the graveyard prove themselves more humane than some of the actual humans in the book. Scary, sure, but also funny, captivating, and tender.

What are some of YOUR favorite scary reads?

— Morgan, Scholastic Staffer

  1. Clare

    I’m so glad to see young people still wanting to be scared! There’s nothing like that shiver down the spine and the furtive peek under the bed, is there? For great suspense try ‘A Bella Street Mystery: The Secret Formula’ by Clare Havens. Really fast paced and nail bitey!

  2. alexis

    If your looking for a scary book read stolen chrilden or bad girls dont die, know those are scary, and read mary downing hahn

  3. swallow

    I read “The Doom Stone” by Paul Zindel to my students every year and they think it is really scary!

  4. ~Zoey~

    My favorite two books are The Old Willis PLace by Mary Downing Hahn and Runaway Twin by Peg Kehret! The Old Willis Place was a great book and it gave me the creeps and goosebumps when Miss Lilian was chasing Georgie and Diana.And Runaway Twin is absolutely the best book!!! its not scary at all but its pretty deep and i highly recommend it!! Also,i love reading scary books and ive read so much i have to go to diffenrent book stores and libraries like every month!!! lol

  5. Lindisay


  6. crazy101

    i read the dollhouse murders it was a little scary until i read it at night.any way i love betty ren wright. if you read this commet you should read a ghost in the house

  7. crazy101

    i read the dollhouse murders i thought it was a little scary buy when i read it at night i was so scared.any way i love Betty ren wright. so if you read this commet read a ghost in the house by betty ren wright.

  8. banana

    they sound really good! I suggest R.L. Stine the best friend, the stepsister, the secret, the overnight, and lights out. I’m only 10 ,but these books are seriously scary I mean it

  9. hannah

    i read wait till helen comes. i loved it it is so awesome.every one should read it i have read most of her books and i am only 10 and i love her books i am working on reading all the lovly bad ones and then promises to the dead. i read deep and dark and dangeous it is my fav… i read the old willis place too i love them all. it is my after school activity!!!! so hip hip happy cheers for mary downing hawn! i also have anna on the farm, stepping on the cracks,plus the rest i mentioned so i am a HUGE MARY DOWNING HAWN FAN #1 FAN

  10. vanessa on october 13 2009 at 11:43pm

    i read wait till helen comes. 4 me it was scary but fun sooo cooool OMG

  11. Kate

    i had to read skeleton man for book club and ithought i would hate it. it was one of the best books i’ve ever read!

  12. keyla

    these books are not scary at all, they are not intersting at all do not read these books

  13. LunchBabe9

    I love Wait ’till Helen Comes, but sometimes it frustrates me how Molly and Michael handle the whole Heather situation. If I were Molly, Heather and Dave would have been scared out of my life way before I had any chance to save Heather from a murderous ghost.

  14. popular gal

    I’v read one of them the Dollhouse Murders it wasn’t that scary but it was alsome!! I loved it soo much I’v read it like 10 times! i’m also a huge fan of scary stuff to so those other books look great i’ll try to read them and check them out!!

  15. Liana

    i’ve read “wait tell helen comes” and it wasn’t really scary at all.i still like it though.the goosebumps series are kind of creepy if ur looking for scary stories

  16. Yasmine

    I read wait till helen comes and it was really scary! I recommended it to all my friends so I’m looking forward to read the other MARY doWNing Hawn book!

  17. Nirvanaa

    Okay, this book isn’t that scary, but it’s really good! It’s called “Thirsty” (young adult) but I have forgotten the author. It’s probably 13 and up (I’m 11 = P) Oh, and Im really into scary stories. Probably half the time Im at a bookstore, it’s horror I’m looking for. I’ve already made dozens of spooky stories! When I’m older, Im gonna publish them!

  18. Crystal

    I’ve read the Dollhouse Murders; it wasn’t THAT scary. I’ll check out these books though; thanks! Another choice is the “Short and Shivery” Series, “Dare to be Scared” three books from Carus Publishing, and “Ask the Bones”.

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