Compiled by Samantha Cicone, MSLIS Student and CCB Graduate Assistant
This bibliography includes titles that are perfect for some spooky reading for kids of all ages. With plenty of horror elements and paranormal activity for slightly older audiences, along with lighthearted, not-so-scary elements for younger readers, these books are perfect to read in the dark as the days grow colder and the nights grow longer. Titles here are best suited for ages three through grade ten.
Del Negro, Janice M.. Passion and Poison: Tales of Shape-Shifters, Ghosts, and Spirited Women; illus. by Vince Natale. Cavendish, 2007. 64p. Gr. 5-8.
A combination of original stories and retellings of creepy tales, this collection of eight stories features female main characters and their places in the netherworld. Exploring themes of justice, courage, betrayal, vengeance, and love with the perfect amount of spooky undertone, these stories focus on strong women delivering justice with a well-timed shiver here and there.
Dolan, Elys. The Mystery of the Haunted Farm; written and illus. by Elys Dolan. Nosy Crow/Candlewick, 2016. 32p. Gr. 2-4.
Farmer Greg’s farm is plagued by zombie ducks and ghost cows, but the Three Pigs Ghost-Hunters discover the true paranormal problem is actually the farmer himself, who is a werewolf. But don’t worry–this title is more Halloween silliness than Halloween spookiness so the Three Pigs save the day in a clever and rewarding fashion. With oversized spreads full of fun details, chaotic comedy, and pop culture references, The Mystery of the Haunted Farm is great for both independent readers and younger children who enjoy fast-paced and funny read-alouds.
Ferry, Beth. The Bold, Brave Brunny; illus. by Chow Hon Lam. Harper, 2020. 32p. 4-6 yrs.
The Bold, Brave Bunny is a tender story that discusses the frustration of being overshadowed by a large family and the difficulties of showing patience to younger siblings. Teetu the bunny runs away from his overcrowded burrow when his siblings eat his alphabet book and decides to create a new book by illustrating his surroundings. Eventually, Teetu realizes that he misses his family (even his younger siblings) and when they find him and guide him back home, he shares his new book with the whole family.
Hemingway, Blaise. Ghost: Thirteen Haunting Tales to Tell; written by Blaise Hemingway and Jesse Reffsin; illus. by Chris Sasaki and Jeff Turley. Chronicle, 2019. 153p. Gr. 4-7.
A chilling and thrilling take on the classic scary-stories-around-the-campfire motif, Ghost is an illustrated collection of creepy and tragic tales told by a mysterious groundskeeper at a summer camp. The two main characters listen with rapt attention as Old Man Blackwood shares twelve ghost stories and the reader is drawn in by both the excellent story-telling and the chill-inducing, creepy gallery of illustrations. But if Old Man Blackwood only tells Thomas and Skeeter twelve stories, what about the thirteenth tale…?
Kassner, Heather. The Bone Garden; illus by Matt Saunders. Holt, 2019. 272p. Gr. 5-7.
A middle-grade take on the classic Frankenstein’s monster story, The Bone Garden follows three children who have been created and subsequently disposed of by Miss Vesper. Made from bone dust and imagination but complete with feelings and desires, these three children work together to find the key to escaping their creator: the grave of her beloved. Much of the story takes place within a cemetery and the tunnels beneath Miss Vesper’s house, adding to the claustrophobic feeling of this fast-paced and eerie story.
Kerr, Philip. The Most Frightening Story Ever Told. Knopf, 2016. 320p. Gr. 4-6.
This Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-esque novel includes five children participating in a contest run by a bitter and poetic bookstore owner, punctuated by occasional horror stories and rhyming poems. In-text references to historical horror authors provide readers with the opportunity to delve deeper into the genre and discover further reading. The ghostly setting and asides are balanced by tender themes of connection and friendship, providing a rich, layered story.
Paquette, Ammi-Joan. Ghost in the House; illus. by Adam Record. Candlewick, 2013. 32p. 3-5 yrs.
With five adorably creepy main characters–a ghost, a mummy, a monster, a skeleton, and a witch–this rhyming picture book offers a playful and appealing read-aloud for younger children who prefer friendly over frightening. The textured digital art pairs well with Paquette’s slightly unusual but catchy rhyme scheme and there are plenty of opportunities for fun sound effects.
Shields, Breeana. The Bone Charmer. Page Street, 2019. 400p. Gr. 7-10.
In this young adult title–set in a world in which bones are at the center of a multitude of magics–main character Saskia accidentally breaks her prophetic bone and is thrust into two simultaneous versions of her future. Complete with magic, mystery, a main character who must find her own way, and a unique take on a love triangle, The Bone Charmer offers to readers an engaging meditation on the interplay of fate and free will.
Siddals, Mary McKenna.Shivery Shades of Halloween; illus. by Jimmy Pickering. Random House, 2014. 24p. 3-6 yrs.
This creative color concept book uses bold hues and more-silly-than-scary depictions of spooky Halloween characters to explore a wide variety of seasonal colors. Siddals uses fun, descriptive language to describe various colors in relation to Halloween. Playful, rhyming verses and plenty of visual cues make this a perfect read aloud choice for younger children.
Sierra, Judy. The House that Drac Built; illus. by Will Hillenbrand. Gulliver/Harcourt, 1995. 32p. 6-8 yrs.
A creepy and seasonal take on the classic “House That Jack Built” rhyme, this picture book includes a cat, a bat, a werewolf, a monster, a mummy, a zombie, and a fiend–all meticulously organized by Dracula himself. The imaginative and rhythmic rhymes are paired with humorous and just-creepy-enough illustrations of costumed children who come trick-or-treating at Drac’s house.
TenNapel, Doug. Ghostopolis; written and illus. by Doug TenNapel; color by Katherine Garner and Tom Rhodes. Graphix/Scholastic, 2010. 267p. Gr. 6-8.
This middle-grade graphic novel explores the tensions between good and evil, the living and the dead, and is set in the supernatural world of Ghostopolis. With characters both living and dead, this rollicking adventure includes a discussion of maturity versus responsibility and an antagonist who is villainous and vulnerable all at once.
Văn, Muon Thị. The Most Terrible of All; illus. by Matt Myers. McElderry, 2019. 40p. 4-7 yrs.
Equal parts funny and adorable, with just a touch of gross, The Most Terrible of All features main character Smugg the monster, who one day discovers through his magic mirror that he is no longer the most terrible of all. Smugg competes with his baby sister to try to gain his superlative back and the result is a funny read aloud featuring bonus jokes for readers and an entire page dedicated to a baby monster fart.