Sep 10, 2021

"Do you have any scary books?"

As a child of the 90s, I remember Goosebumps books being everywhere. I was always more of a historical fiction girl, but I have clear middle school memories of visiting my school's snack cart before the morning bell and being able to check out Goosebumps books and buy WarHeads candy (the two are forever linked my mind). We get requests year-round for scary books, but the Goosebumps series is just one option. Below are some classic and new titles to send shivers down your spine as we approach the fall season.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Schwartz’s iconic series of scary folklore has entertained and spooked generations. There's something for everyone: skeletons, haunted houses, vampires, mad killers, witches, and more. Short stories range from creepy to silly to haunting, and the illustrations by Stephen Gammel set the tone with a chilly and eerie vibe. 

Don't Turn Out the Lights by Jonathan Maberry
Featuring stories from R.L. Stine and Madeleine Roux, this horror anthology is a tribute to Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. So turn off your lamps, click on your flashlights, and prepare (if you dare) to be utterly spooked by these 35 tales. 

Hide and Don't Seek: And Other Very Scary Stories by Anica Mrose Rissi
A game of hide-and-seek goes on far too long. A look-alike doll makes itself right at home. A talent show act leaves the audience aghast. In another ode to Alvin Schwartz, Rissi has created a contemporary collection of short stories sure to elicit chills, laughs, and screams. 

The Puppet's Payback and Other Chilling Tales by Mary Downing Hahn
Hahn is a go-to whenever a reader is looking for ghost stories and other scary tales. She is a master at stretching out suspense, mixing thrills with chills, and keeping plots fast-paced and riveting with creepy descriptions of the settings and realistic characters. In the Puppet’s Payback, each tale turns something ordinary, like a pigeon, a white dress, or a stranger on the bus, into a sinister link to the supernatural. 

Out to Get You: 13 Tales of Weirdness and Woe by Josh Allen
13 ordinary kids. 13 ordinary towns. Danger lurks around every corner and spooky things hide in plain sight. Debut author Josh Allen concocts 13 short horror stories similar in style to R.L. Stine. 

The Monsters of Rookhaven by Padraig Kenny
Mirabelle has always known she is a monster. When the glamour protecting her unusual family from the human world is torn and an orphaned brother and sister stumble upon Rookhaven, Mirabelle soon discovers that friendship can be found in the outside world. But when something far more sinister comes to threaten them all, it quickly becomes clear that the true monsters aren’t necessarily the ones you can see. 
The Sleepover by Michael Regina
When the Russo family returns home from vacation to discover their nanny has unexpectedly passed away, Matthew takes the news the hardest. His best friends decide to cheer him up with a night of junk food, prank calls, and scary movies. Matthew’s mother hires a new nanny on the fly to watch over him and his younger sister, and the nanny is all too happy to have Matthew's friends over. Although she seems like the perfect babysitter, there’s something about her that Matthew doesn’t trust. This new graphic novel is perfect for fans of Stranger Things

A World Full of Spooky Stories by Angela McAllister
This collection features spooky stories from all over the world. Feel your pulse race and your skin tingle as you read about the fearsome witch Baba Yaga, the serpent woman from Spain, the rescue of Tam Lin from the bewitching Queen of the Fairies, how Father Death gets caught in the Enchanted Apple Tree, and the water dwelling Bunyip from Australia.  

The List of Unspeakable Fears by J. Kasper Kramer 
The War That Saved My Life meets Coraline in this historical horror. Essie O’Neill is afraid of everything: cats, electric lights, a family heirloom, her nightmares. Soon Essie discovers more to fear. Her mother has remarried and they must move from their dilapidated tenement in the Bronx to North Brother Island where Essie’s new stepfather runs a quarantine hospital. Essie knows the island is plagued with tragedy so she begins investigating her terrifying new house, stepfather, and her own painful history. 

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspectors, a somewhat inept ghost hunting team, but Cass herself can really see ghosts. In fact, her best friend Jacob is a ghost. When The Inspectors head to Edinburgh, Scotland for their new TV show, Cass finds herself surrounded by ghosts… and not all of them are friendly. When she meets Lara, a girl who can also see ghosts, the two find themselves in the center of an epic fight between the worlds of the living and the dead.  

Beneath the Bed and Other Scary Stories by Max Brallier
A lot scary books are geared towards middle graders and it can be difficult to find the right mix of scary for young readers. For beginning readers looking for scary-but-not-too-scary stories, Brallier’s Mister Shivers series is a great place to start. 5 authentically scary stories, easy-to-read text, and creepy, colorful artwork help boost reading fluency and elicit shivers. Other notable series for early elementary readers include Ballier's Eerie Elementary and The Notebook of Doom by Troy Cummings. I've also found younger readers responding well to the Bunnicula series by Deborah Howe. For readers looking for more adventure and just a small amount of horror, Bralliers' The Last Kids on Earth series is a great option.

Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker
The haunted season has arrived in the Antler Wood. No fox kit is safe. When Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they discover a dangerous world full of monsters. In order to find a den to call home, they must venture through field and forest, facing unspeakable things that dwell in the darkness like a zombie who hungers for their flesh, a witch who tries to steal their skins, and a ghost who hunts them through the snow. 

Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie
Claire has absolutely no interest in the paranormal. She’s a scientist, which is why she can’t think of anything worse than having to help out her dad on one of his ghost-themed Chicago bus tours. She thinks she’s made it through when she sees a boy with a sad face and dark eyes at the back of the bus. There’s something off about his presence, especially because when she checks at the end of the tour… he’s gone. Claire tries to brush off the incident, but then the scratching starts. Voices whisper to her in the dark. The number 396 appears everywhere she turns. And the boy with the dark eyes starts following her. 
Thornhill by Pam Smy
Mary is an orphan at the Thornhill Institute for Children at the very moment that it’s closing down for good. When a bully goes too far, Mary’s revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself. Years later, Ella moves to a new town where she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute. Determined to befriend the mysterious, evasive girl she sees there, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill’s history and uncover its secrets. Part text, part art, Ella’s story is told through striking art and Mary’s is told through diary entries, eventually intersecting and revealing the truth behind the Thornhill Institute.  
The Gathering by Dan Poblocki
Some houses are more than just haunted, they’re hungry. Dash, Dylan, Poppy, Marcus, and Azumi don’t realize this at first. They think they’ve been summoned to Shadow House for innocent reasons, but there’s nothing innocent about Shadow House. Something within its walls is wickedly wrong. Nothing and nobody can be trusted. Hallways move, doors vanish, ghosts appear, and children disappear. The way out? That’s disappeared too. This is the first book in the Shadow House series. 
The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away by Ronald L. Smith
12-year-old Simon is obsessed with aliens, the ones who take people and do experiments. When he’s too worried about them to sleep, he listens to the owls hoot outside. Owls that have the same eyes as aliens, dark and foreboding. Then something strange happens on a camping trip, and Simon begins to suspect he’s been abducted. But is it real, or just the overactive imagination of a kid who loves fantasy and role playing games and is the target of bullies and his father’s scorn?