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 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 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.
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 stories 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.
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.
City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
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
The Girl in the Locked Room: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn
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
Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke
Olive and the Backstage Ghost by Michelle Schusterman
Doll Bones by Holly Black
I couldn’t read this book because it was too creepy for me. Maybe one day I’ll work up to it. 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
Ivy’s totally clueless and so very quirky. Before we read this book together, I read many parts out loud to my kids while I was previewing this book because it was just so funny!! Now my kids are addicted, too. 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.
The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie\
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
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 that 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 Heidicker, 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