I love autumn because it always makes me want to read (or reread) spooky books! But I don’t like them TOO spooky, know what I mean? I want chills and thrills, but not so much that I have trouble sleeping.
Children’s books are perfect for me, because they can be creepy without going over-the-top! Here’s five of my favorite spooky kids books that’re perfect for reading in the weeks leading up to Halloween:
Emily hadn’t meant to get tangled up with the likes of Oliver Mallerton and his dead sister. She had only been tailing her artist father to find out why he had been acting so mysterious lately. She certainly never meant to get mixed up in the Sylvia Game, a game that sounded harmless, not like a game that would nearly cause the death of one boy and lead to the banishment of another.
Ghosts and dead kids and in a weird way this kind of reminds me of The Secret Garden? Only creepy. (or creepier?)
Spook rating: 4/5 ghosts
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.
Legend has it that a ghost cut the head off a wooden cupid on the stairway of the Stanley house. Has the ghost returned to strike again?
The spookiness in this book mostly comes from the things that are left unsaid– it’s not outright stated there’s ghosts and/or demons (or whatever it was– angels, maybe?), etc., but it’s implied. The rest of it is a lovely story about family and friendship! There’s some sequels, too, though I’ve yet to read them.
Spook rating: 3/5 ghosts
Lynn and her best friend, Mouse, are positive their neighbor, Mrs. Tuggle, is a witch. And they suspect the old woman is forcing Lynn’s sister, Judith, to join her coven to witches. But Lynn and Mouse can’t prove anything and their parents don’t believe them. the girls are desperate to expose Mrs. Tuggle’s evil nature, especially since her actions are becoming more threatening everyday.
Now Lynn’s parents have announced that they’re going away for the weekend, leaving Judith and Mrs. Tuggle in charge. Can the girls outsmart Mrs. Tuggle and save Lynn’s family — or is the dark magic too strong to conquer?
I haven’t reread this book in AGES, but I still remember it being scary and threatening and probably something I shouldn’t have read in fourth grade. A lot of PRN’s books tend to be scary because of the atmosphere/circumstances, and not necessarily specifically scary things; she also leaves a lot of it up to the reader to decide if something supernatural is actually happening or not, which I like.
Spook rating: 3.5/5 ghosts
There is a story here for everyone — skeletons with torn and tangled flesh who roam the earth; a ghost who takes revenge on her murderer; and a haunted house where every night a bloody head falls down the chimney.
Stephen Gammell’s splendidly creepy drawings perfectly capture the mood of more than two dozen scary stories — and even scary songs — all just right for reading alone or for telling aloud in the dark.
If You Dare!
If any book was going to keep me from sleeping, it’d be this one. The stories are scary on their own (lots of dead things and twist endings), but combined with Stephen Gammell’s illustrations? Yeah, I’d definitely read this one in the LIGHT.
Spook rating: 10/5 ghosts
Rose Rita Pottinger is dreading summer. With her best friend, Lewis Barnavelt, away at Boy Scout camp, vacation threatens to be altogether boring. But when Mrs. Zimmermann, Lewis’s next door neighbor and a genuine witch, receives a strange deathbed letter from an eccentric uncle, unexpected things start to happen.
Rose Rita and Mrs. Zimmermann set off on a trip to discover the meaning of the letter. A ransacked farmhouse, a missing ring, shadowy figures appearing in the night, and mysterious magic symbols are just the beginning as they are gradually drawn into a terrifying world of occult mysteries, where Mrs. Zimmermann’s failing powers can’t help them.
This is the 3rd Lewis Barnavelt book, but you could still read it without having read the first two. The suspense builds and builds until BAM! Something scary and delightful happens, and you love it so much you end up reading the whole series anyway.
Spook rating: 5/5 ghosts
Which spooky kids books are YOU going to read for Halloween?