Spooky Books for Every Grade

From Preschool to High School Seniors

I have been obsessed with all things spooky since I was little.  As a young kid… we are talking really young… like seven…. I would venture through the haunted house in our town alone while my mom waited with my scardy cat brother outside.  One year the grocery bagger at the store we shopped at told my mom he was working as one of the actors in the haunted house and while I wandered through I would greet the scary creatures and asking them about their evening.  Even as a child I loved confronting the spooky and making it mundane

Confronting spookiness and the horror of life can have a place in all ages.  Life gets scary and it’s not a horrible idea to introduce horror (in appropriate levels) to children. The following list is a way to introduce spooky and horror at an developmentally appropriate level.  Keep in mind every child is at a different reading level and can handle different levels of spookiness (you know your child best!),  so please be sure to keep that in mind when browsing through the list.

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  • Preschool – A Vampire is Coming to Dinner!:  10 Rules to Follow by Pamela Jane
    • A cute picture book for young readers. There are 10 rules for inviting a vampire to dinner, and the child host breaks every one. This book comes with flaps that are fun for young readers to lift up.  And as my sister says about my toddler niece”we are very into turning pages now.  It’s all the rage.”
  • Kindergarten – One Halloween Night by Mark Teague.
    • A story of a witch that changes all of the Halloween candy to gross treats like “Broccoli Chews.” What really makes this book special is the brilliant illustrations.  It might be a little verbose for very young readers but would be perfect for the kindergarten and very yearly elementary.
  • 1st Grade – The Berenstain Bears Trick or Treat by Stan and Jan Berenstain
    • A classic, easy, read with a moral.  It works at teaching kids how to be safe on Halloween while following mamma, papa, sister and me…. snug as bugs in their split level tree. It’s a good choice for the difficult reading age where books tend to be either too old or too young.
  • 2nd Grade – A Good Night For Ghosts (Magic Treehouse Book 42) by Mary Pope Osborne
    • The premise behind this particular series of books is the protagonists (Jack and Annie) have  magical tree house that has a library inside.  Opening any book will take them to the era featured in the book.  In this one they meet Louis Armstrong and the ghostly pirate crew that terrify the kids.  A good book to read out lout or on their own
  • 3rd Grade (modern)- The Monsters of Morley Manor: A Madcap Adventure by Bruce Coville
    • I’ll admit it, I haven’t read this one but the title has my last name in it… so it makes the list.  Also, it has amazing reviews from parents.  It’s an adventure story featuring a brother and sister who buy a box at an estate sale that has real live wiggling monsters inside.  Parents describe it as fast paced and one they’ve enjoyed reading out loud to their kids at bedtime.
  • 3rd Grade (old school) – Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz.
    • This is an older three-volume collection of stories but another one that still makes an appearance in my adult life.  Every time my mother and I see a girl with a choker we speculate that if we pull at it her head might fall off.  Gruesome? Maybe.  But it’s a children’s book that has survived  in family lore and therefore deserves a spot.
  • 4th Grade- Home for the Howlidays by Dian Curtis Regan
    • As much of a Christmas book as a Halloween book I can tell you I WAS OBSESSED WITH THIS STORY AS A MIDDLE READER.  I must have read it half a dozen times and still clearly remember the plot line twenty years later.  Sam and his stepsister Leesha are from a family famous for their spooky board game.  When they return home from boarding school for the holidays they find their entire family are turning into monster characters from the game.  This one doesn’t get huge press now… but trust me on it.
  • 5th Grade – Night of the Living Dummy (Goosebumps #1) by R.L. Stine
    • Um… does anybody else remember the AWESOME cover goosebumps had back in the day?  I had copies that had the goosebumps worn off of it.  Goosebumps, if you haven’t heard of it, is a series of scary stories for kids aged 7-12.  I can remember reading one about evil pixies in a closet as a kid.  TO THIS DAY if I wake up and the light is on under the closet door I get a little scared.  It’s a vast series (there are more than 60 in the series), so you can click around to find one that appeals to you or your pre-teen.
  • 6th Grade –A Tale Dark and Grimm (A Tale Dark & Grimm #1) by Adam Gidwitz
    • This book is dark.  I mean way dark.  There are some very violent, descriptive passages that are not suitable for younger children.  However it is one of those books that can captivate both adults and children. It’s a series and will read quick and keep your child’s interest.
  • 7th Grade (Female Protagonist)- The House of Dead Maids by Clare B Dunkle.
    • I’m a sucker for a Bronte.  I’m also a sucker for a story that pushes you towards interest in a real historical character… even if the story is purely fiction.  Tabby Ackroyd in history was a storyteller and maid to the Brontes.  In this story she is a maid in Seldom house that holds death and fear and a young master who a special kind of savage.
  • 7th Grade (Male Protagonist) – Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan
    • A young man and his friend get tickets to a freak show where the recognize one of the performers.  They hang behind after the show which leads to an inability to escape the underworld of the dead
  • 8th Grade – How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
    • It’s described as the Salem Witch Trials mixed with Mean Girls.  It follows a teenage descendant of Cotton Mather as she moves back to the town of Salem, MA and must interact with the people her ancestor put to death.  On a fun note it’s written by a real descendent of Cotton Mather.
  • 9th grade – The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
    • This book is nuts.  It’s hard to describe without ruining the entire book but it follows the death of three students and disappearance of Carly Johnson, whose alter ego happens to be the main suspect Kaitlyn.  It reads like a diary but also uses psychiatric reports, testimonies and video footage.  You’ll finish it wondering what just happened.
  • 10th grade – Asylum by Madeleine Roux
    • A super creepy teenage horror novel following Dan who finds himself living in a dorm that is a renovated mental hospital.  And of course, he finds some deep, dark secrets.  This book receives some varying reviews.  Despite the dark photos, it is not like Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (it feels more like American Horror Story to me).   It’s also a series which is fantastic for keeping yourself occupied for a while.
  • 11th grade The Merciless by Danielle Vega
    • Another Mean Girls kind of horror story, but this one deals with demon possession, kidnapping and the horror of looking inside to wonder you too are capable of evil.  Definitely an older young adult-adult book but totally worth the read.  Part of a trilogy.
  • 11th grade (Male Protagonist) – The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
    • A dark story that combines changeling lore with death, adventure and general creepiness.  It moves fast enough to keep a teen reader involved and could also be appropriate for a younger teen.
  • 12th grade – Carrie by Stephen King
    • I’ll admit I’m one of the few people who find find Stephen King… dense.  His story telling makes me want to hire a bulldozer so I can push it along. Carrie is much shorter Stephen King and moves quickly.  It’s great for junior/senior level readers as it’s an adult level novel written about a teenager.   It’s also scary as hell.

About Kaitey Moore 40 Articles
Kaitlin Moore Morley is passionate about storytelling, the kind of our imagination and the kind of our experiences. She works as a hospital chaplain where she collects love stories and as a pastor where she collect biblical narrative. She holds an undergraduate in Social Anthropology from the University of Manchester in England and a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky. She lives in Evansville, Indiana in an old (very cold) Victorian house with her husband, Darren and their dog Olga.

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