Spooktacular Reads for Young Readers 2022
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.
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.
Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberly
There's a Nightmare in my Closet by Mercer Mayer
The Little Old Lady who was not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams, illustrated by Megan Lloyd
In a Dark, Dark Room: and Other Scary Stories retold by Alvin Schwartz, illustrated by Dirk Zimmer
Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe
Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown
Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young
The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen
Eerie Elementary: The School is Alive! by Jack Chabert
The House with a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz, illustrated by Stephen Gammell
City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Not-So-Scary Scary Stories
Emi Isn’t Scared of Monsters by Alina Tysoe
So not Ghoul by Karen Yin, illustrated by Bonnie Lui
I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll, illustrated by Howard McWilliam
Looking for a Jumbie by Tracey Baptiste, illustrated by Amber Ren
Ghoulia by Barbara Cantini
Scooby-Doo! : 5-Minute Stories by various authors
Grandpa Bert and the Ghost Snatchers by Malorie Blackman, illustrated by Melanie Demmer