It’s dark outside. Thunder rumbles, then rain begins to beat on the windows. You’re alone in the house. You snuggle under the covers and open your favorite scary book. Ghosts. Hauntings. Monsters. You smile, and keep reading. A few minutes later, you pause. Wait. What’s that sound? You listen harder. Is someone in the house with you? Your heart races. Your palms sweat. You turn on the overhead light, and check. It’s just you. No one’s there. Your fears poof into nothingness. The book had just scared you. A little.
2. One for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn— Released in 2018, One for Sorrow is a tale of a vengeful ghost during the 1918 influenza outbreak. However, any book by Mary Downing Hahn is a good pick—she is a ghost story master. Her books are great for students who loved Goosebumps and are ready to kick it up a notch. She has a huge backlist, and students devour them. An older book of hers, All the Lovely Bad Ones, includes mischievous but friendly ghosts of children in addition to an evil ghost.
3. Doll Bones by Holly Black—Is there anything creepier than a haunted china doll? I’m not sure. This book includes a strong friendship tale and ends positively, at least for a ghost story. Despite my childhood fear of dolls (I’m looking at you, Barbarella!), I enjoyed this one. It’s a fast, easy read, not quite as scary as some of the others.
4. Coraline—The movie is great, but never as great as the book. In Coraline’s new home, there’s a locked door. On the other side, is a brick wall, until one day she finds a passage to a home that looks just like hers—but her parents have buttons for eyes. They are also doting and attentive, unlike her own in the real world. However, the parents in the other place also want to keep her forever… and have already trapped other children there. Coraline is their only chance for escape. To try a ghost story by Neil Gaiman for children, check out The Graveyard Book.
5. The Night Gardener, by Jonathan Auxier. This slow burn of psychological horror and suspense is my favorite scary book of all time. The writing is gorgeous, providing atmospheric descriptions while staying crisp and fast-paced. The book has a gothic mood that creates a dark, creepy story that will appeal to fans of Coraline. This book is in my top ten favorite books for young readers.
For younger readers who want a scary story but who might not sleep for a week with a really terrifying tale, try Eerie Elementary. This series is for newly independent readers with easy-to-read text. In book 1 of the series, the main character Sam must defend himself from the evil school.
Who knows…maybe it’ll be an out-of-this world experience.