Ghost stories for kids range from adorable to downright terrifying. From cute picture books about ghosts to middle-grade stories and books with ghosts that might be friendly or might be malevolent, there’s a ghost story for everyone on this list.
The Best Ghost Story Picture Books
How to Make Friends With a Ghost by Rebecca Green
Who doesn’t need a heartwarming guidebook for making lifelong friends with a ghost? Read the tips that will help you be a good friend to your ghost by accepting your ghost (read: anyone) for who they are on the inside and being kind.
Boo Who? by Ben Clanton
Who can’t relate to being new and feeling invisible? Boo is new and literally invisible. Not only that, he has trouble playing most games. For example, Tag doesn’t work. Neither does basketball. But he’s happy to learn that Hide-and-Seek works perfectly! Muted colors show expressive characters pairing perfectly with this sweet story about fitting in. A great story for any time of year, not just the Halloween season.
Ghosts In the House a Lift-the-Flap Book by Ammi-Joan Paquette, illustrated by Adam Record
Kids love this clever, funny Halloween counting book that starts with one ghost. The ghost discovers (lift-the-flap) a skeleton in the closet and now there are two. Soon there are a total of five monsters prowling through the house. That is until they see a little boy. Yikes! Of course, the frightened monsters run for their lives. 🙂
Leo a Ghost Story by Mac Barnett, illustrations by Christian Robinson
You can see him but most people can’t. Leo is a ghost and a good friend to Jane. Together they play Knights of the Round Table. When Leo helps save the family from robbers, he tells Jane that he’s only a ghost, hoping she won’t be afraid. She isn’t. It’s his friendship that is most important, not what he is. SO sweet.
Gracie Meets a Ghost by Keiko Sena
Gracie’s about to go to bed when she realizes she doesn’t have her glasses. So, she goes outside to search — there she meets a ghost who wants to scare her but since she can’t see him, he doesn’t. The ghost looks everywhere for Gracie’s glasses so he can scare her. Ironically, Gracie thinks he’s so nice and doesn’t realize he’s not, but we the readers know.
The Haunted Lake by P.J. Lynch
A combination love and ghost story! (That isn’t too scary.) After fisherman Jacob disappears into the ghostly sunken village under the lake, his father and his love, Ellen, wait for him for years, hoping for a miracle. One day, Jacob, who is trapped below the lake by the ghosts, hears the bell his love rings. It startles him to his senses and he rises to the surface where he sees Ellen. It breaking Jacob free from the ghostly mind-control and he gets a happy ending!
Never Kick a Ghost and Other Silly Chillers (I Can Read Book) by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Pascale Constantin
A not-too-scary, silly, spooky story perfect for early readers! My daughter’s first-grade teacher read this to the whole class and they LOVED it!
The Best Chapter and Middle Grade Books with GHOSTS
Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol: The Haunted House Next Door by Andres Miedoso, illustrated by Victor Rivas (ages 7 – 10)
Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning by A.J. Low (ages 7 – 10)
Set in Singapore, Sherlock Sam and his friends use their brains to solve mysteries. In this case, they’re determined to discover the cause of the ghostly sounds from an abandoned military fort. Could it be a ghost? Their adventures are funny and exciting, this is a well-written chapter book in a new series. (See also: Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong.)
Best Nerds Forever by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein (ages 8 – 12)
Finn gets run off the road by a van and dies. And so begins the story of his new life as a ghost– he hopes to figure out who ran him off the road and why! As he wanders around his town, he meets another ghost— a girl who had gone missing. Readers will zip through this middle-grade story with an interesting premise, humor, and mystery about friendship and making the best of your circumstances.
Ophie’s Ghost by Justina Ireland (ages 9 – 12)
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier (ages 8 – 12)
A ghost tour outing with a neighbor boy sends Maya, Catrina’s little sister with cystic fibrosis to the hospital. Cat feels guilt and fear for her sister, knowing that her sister’s lungs will never get better and feels that it’s all her fault. But as the neighbor introduces Cat to the beautiful Day of the Dead celebration, Cat starts to see death and life differently, especially when she meets the ghosts. Beautifully written and illustrated, this graphic novel deftly deals with the big issues of mortality, honesty, and friendship in an interesting, unique way.
Lockwood & Co The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (ages 9 – 12)
Dangerous ghosts and spirits are appearing everywhere in Victorian London. Since kids are the only ones who can see them, teens Lucy, Anthony, and George earn money at their ghost-hunting agency. In this first story, they take a perilous job that may just be their last. The writing and creative storytelling in this series will blow your mind.
The Ghost of Midnight Lake by Lucy Strange (ages 9 – 12)
Perfect for people like me who don’t actually like scary stories, this is a not-scary ghost story. (The bad people are scarier than the ghosts in this story.) When Aggie’s rich Earl father dies, her awful cousin and new heir sends Aggie to live with her mysterious real dad. She’s shocked to learn that the Earl wasn’t her actual father and as she adjusts to her new situation, she decides to figure out the truth about her heritage. That means following a ghostly light into her old estate, exploring a haunted island with a new friend, and surviving her cousin’s attempts on her life. It’s a wonderful story about a brave heroine who has a big mystery to unravel!
City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab (ages 9 – 12)
I liked this plot-driven, spooky story. Not only are Cass’s parents ghost aficionados for their own TV show but after a terrible drowning accident, Cass sees ghosts, too. In fact, Cass’s best friend is a ghost named Jacob. When they all travel to Edinburgh, Scotland, Cass discovers that she isn’t the only one who can see ghosts and that she’s actually a ghost hunter. (Which Jacob doesn’t like at all!) But as she’s trying to figure out what this means, she’s terrorized by a sinister ghost called Raven in Red. Also on: Spooky, Scary Chapter Books For Kids
The Girl with the Ghost Machine by Lauren DeStefano (ages 9 – 12)
The Girl in the Locked Room: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn (ages 9 – 12)
Julie and her parents move into an old, haunted house where a young ghost girl is trapped. Julie and her new friend from town determine to figure out how to help the ghost girl. They’ll have to relive the moment when the girl’s family was murdered but change the ending. This is a not-too-scary ghost story primarily because the ghost girl is a sympathetic character. Most of Mary Downing Hahn’s stories are pretty scary and creepy. If you like that kind of thing, she’s a great author to try.
The Griffins of Castle Cary by Heather Shumaker (ages 9 – 12)
Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke (ages 9 – 12)
Olive and the Backstage Ghost by Michelle Schusterman (ages 9 – 12)
Doll Bones by Holly Black (ages 9 – 12)
I couldn’t read this book because it was too creepy for me. Maybe one day I’ll work up to it because it’s highly rated. But, I can tell you the gist. It’s about three friends and a bone-china doll who is haunting one girl’s dreams.
Anyone But Ivy Pocket by Caleb Krisp (ages 9 – 12)
Ivy’s adventures involve a sinister ghost, a mystical jewel, and a surprising destiny. If you like quirky, funny ghost stories, don’t miss this series, my girls and I loved it.
The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie (ages 9 – 12)
Readers love this story about Tessa who moves to a new house in Florida, one that seems to be haunted. Her brother’s ventriloquist dummy is crying real tears (because what’s more creepy than dolls!?) and she discovers that the house has a mystery that may be connected to her.
The Whispering House by Rebecca Wade (ages 9 – 12)
A slightly scary story about a girl haunting a fairy tale book in Hannah’s new home. Hannah must figure out why the ghost is haunting her and see if learning the truth will stop the haunting. A decent read.
Ghost Stories: Short Stories for Kids
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark retold by Alvin Schwartz, illustrated by Stephen Gammell
This book was the MOST tattered book in my classroom library. Kids LOVED it. The short stories are very readable. You can skip around or read it cover to cover. If you like creepy and scary, this is a great choice.
Ghost: Thirteen Haunting Tales to Tell by Illustratus
Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidecker, illustrated by Junyi Wu
The creepy storyteller in the sinister Bog Cavern tells short, interconnected SCARY stories to a litter of seven foxes with a warning: the stories might just scare them (and you) half to death. As the horrifying tales are told, we see how they connect. But how will they end? I love that the stories are all about animals and that there are tender and funny moments of love and family along with the scary. But beware of the rest…
Haunted Histories by J. H. Everett