Books that Go Bump in the Night: The Spookiest Reads for Kids and Young Readers

I have a confession to make…I don’t like being scared. Not one bit. Save the haunted houses and horror movies for those who are content with voluntarily taking years off their life—I’ll pass! As we go into Halloween week and ghouls and goblins worldwide prepare for the perfect scare this Saturday, I thought I’d look at a topic that’s a bit more my speed: spooky children’s books. Even as a bit of a scaredy-cat, one of the best parts of being a kid on Halloween (besides the candy, of course) was hearing and reading all of the creepy stories. I may be hiding under the bed before this is all over, but here goes nothing…

bunnyThe Bunnicula Series by James Howe—Think Homeward Bound meets Dracula meets…Veggietales? This lovable children’s series stars Harold the Dog, Chester the Cat and Howie the Dachshund puppy (yes!), along with their family, the Monroes, not to mention the titular character, the curiously-silent, vampire-fanged rabbit Bunnicula. Whimsical, adventuresome and just the right amount of sinister; the Bunnicula series is one of my all-time favorites.

gooseThe Goosebumps Series by R.L. Stine—Currently adapted into a major motion picture, Goosebumps are a classic series dating back all the way to 1992. What’s great about Goosebumps is that they are perfectly creepy and dark without resorting to violence and death. The covers alone were often enough to raise hair on the back of my neck! My personal favorites? Say Cheese and Die! and Night of the Living Dummy.

ScaryStoriesGammellThe Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Series by Alvin Schwartz—I challenge you to find someone who grew up in the last 30 years who was not terrified by these books! Adapting popular urban legends and folklore, Schwartz’s collection of short stories begs to be read out loud, in a dark room, with only flashlights in the midst of a powerful storm. To this day, just thinking about The Hook makes me not want to drive at night!

wildWhere the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak—An interesting choice, some would say, in that Sendak’s work isn’t traditionally “scary.” That said, the brilliance of Where the Wild Things Are is in the imagination. As young Max escapes to an island filled with “Wild Things,” the reader is transported to a world full of adventure and fear of the unknown. Beautiful illustrations bring this classic to life, which was adapted into a motion picture in 2009.

childrenThe Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Series by Ransom Riggs—First, let me say that this series is one children should grow into. It’s best for teen/YA readers. Nonetheless, with its unique mix of vintage photographs and narrative, the Miss Peregrine’s series is imaginative and sufficiently creepy, even too creepy for some of my coworkers! The 3rd installment, Library of Souls, was just released this fall and is available in HPB stores nationwide.

Alright, suffice it to say, I’m now sufficiently scared! How about you? What spine-tingling reads kept you up at night as a child?

Jason is the Email Coordinator at Half Price Books Corporate.

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