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