Yesterday, we shared our picks for 10 of the scariest books ever written for adults. Today, it’s time to talk about some great scary books for kids.
Please note, we’re not kidding when we say these books are really scary. Many kids love to be scared and will devour them and ask for more, but other children will find them genuinely terrifying and may suffer from nightmares as a result. PLEASE consider your child’s age, personality, and level of maturity carefully before giving them any of these books.
1. Bellairs, John – The House With a Clock in its Walls
A chilling gothic novel for kids about an orphaned boy who goes to live with his uncle in a spooky old house once owned by an evil wizard.
2. Dahl, Roald – The Witches
Beloved children’s author Roald Dahl is famous for cruel and sadistic villains like Miss Trunchbull (Matilda) and Aunts Spike and Sponge (James and the Giant Peach), but few of his stories are truly frightening. The Witches is one of the exceptions.
3. Gaiman, Neil – Coraline
Popular fantasy writer Neil Gaiman is best known for his imaginative adult fiction and comics such as American Gods, Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), and The Sandman, but he’s also turned his pen to children’s literature. Coraline is a creepy novel about a young girl who enters an alternate world that seems at first to offer her everything she’s ever wanted.
4. Hahn, Mary Downing – Wail Till Helen Comes
A girl realizes her stepsister is falling under the spell of a ghost that lures children to their deaths – can she save her? One of the scariest books by one of the best horror authors in children’s literature.
5. McNish, Cliff – Breathe: A Ghost Story
A chilling book about an asthmatic boy who must save his widowed mother after she is possessed by a ghost.
6. Priestley, Chris – Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror
These spooky gothic tales will keep young readers on the edge of their seats!
7. Schwartz, Alvin – Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark
If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, you probably spent a few nights cowering under the covers thanks to this book, which includes a selection of scary urban legends and other stories retold for children.
Note: Sadly, the creepy and atmospheric illustrations by Stephen Gammell, which added considerably to the scariness of the books, have been replaced in some recent editions, so if you want Gammell’s illustrations, be sure you’re getting the correct version.
8. Schwartz, Allan – In a Dark, Dark Room
For kids who aren’t old enough for Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark, Alvin Schwartz has this collection of easy-to-read scary stories for the youngest readers. Though some are funny, several are pretty spooky!
9. Snyder, Zilpha Keatley – The Headless Cupid
A creepy classic about a family in upheaval, a wanna-be witch, and a haunting.
10. Stine, R.L. – Night of the Living Dummy
No list of scary stories for children would be complete without some Goosebumps, and Night of the Living Dummy is one of the scariest of this popular horror series.
What are your favorite scary books for young readers?
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