Spooktacular Reads for Young Readers 2022

October 18, 2022 | Nicol

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Halloween looms around the corner, and so does the promise of frightening tales.

In this blog, we explore TPL's collection of scary (and not-so-scary) stories. We also ask: for all the tossing and turning at night, why are many children still drawn to scary things?

Horror stories have been sprouting and wriggling from the collective imagination for centuries. As societies grow more intricate, imaginations grow wilder. For every shadow in the bedroom, the Bogeyman bides his time. For every creak under the bed, a monster waits for eyes to shut. 

From folklore to more modern hits like R.L. Stine's Goosebumps and Netflix's Stranger Things, scary stories garner legions of young fans — and they may have their benefits. 

Manageable doses of fear can regulate emotion and help children adapt to challenging situations. In the shadows, children confront overwhelming emotions. They face big creatures — and even bigger feelings: pain from a divorce, bullies, the passing of a loved one. Children experience fear in scary stories, but they also experience bravery. They experience loneliness, but they also overcome the villains. In scary stories, kids face the giants within. 

A scary story is an invitation, one that says "Psst, hey you, can you manage this? Can you overcome this and come out alive?" And what a triumph when they do! Then they are not so little and powerless in this world anymore. 

Spooky tales once served as a warning to kids. "Keep steady on that good and trodden path," said the adults, "lest the monsters get you."

Now the paths are fenced, the roads are mapped, and every step is outlined. It's the monsters' turn to tell the tales. "Come off that good and trodden path," they whisper, "it is time to have fun." 

They're ghoulish; they're warty; they're multi-eyed and slimy-skinned — love them or hate them, spooky tales are here to stay.

Readers 0-4

Go away, big green monster

Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberly

There's a nightmare in my closet

There's a Nightmare in my Closet by Mercer Mayer 

The little old lady who was not afraid of anything

The Little Old Lady who was not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams, illustrated by Megan Lloyd


Readers 6-9 

In a dark, dark room and other scary stories

In a Dark, Dark Room: and Other Scary Stories retold by Alvin Schwartz, illustrated by Dirk Zimmer

Bunnicula: a rabbit-tale of mystery

Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe 

Creepy carrots!

Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown 

Lon Po Po: a Red-Riding Hood story from China

Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young 

The dark

The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen 

Eerie elementary: the school is alive!

Eerie Elementary: The School is Alive! by Jack Chabert 


Readers 9-12 

The house with the clock in its walls

The House with a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs 

Scary stories to tell in the dark

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz, illustrated by Stephen Gammell

City of ghosts

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab


Coraline by Neil Gaiman 


Not-So-Scary Scary Stories 

Emi isn't scared of monsters

Emi Isn’t Scared of Monsters by Alina Tysoe 

So not ghoul

So not Ghoul by Karen Yin, illustrated by Bonnie Lui

I need my monster

I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll, illustrated by Howard McWilliam

Looking for a jumbie

Looking for a Jumbie by Tracey Baptiste, illustrated by Amber Ren


Ghoulia by Barbara Cantini

Scooby-Doo! 5-Minute Stories

Scooby-Doo! : 5-Minute Stories by various authors

Grandpa Bert and the ghost snatchers

Grandpa Bert and the Ghost Snatchers by Malorie Blackman, illustrated by Melanie Demmer


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