Spooky, Scary Chapter Books Kids Won’t Be Able To Put Down

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Creepy, spooky, and scary books are many kids’ favorite reading materials. When I think of scary books for kids, I think of authors Mary Downing Hahn and R.L. Stein because both have so many books in this genre. Here are the best scary books to keep kids up at night…

If you have any favorites that aren’t on this list, please leave them in the comments. This is a work in progress.

Remember, if you like one book, check to see if there are more books in the series or more books by the same author.

Spooky, Scary Chapter Books Kids Won’t Be Able To Put Down

Spooky, Scary Chapter Books Kids Won't Be Able To Put Down
Eerie Elementary: The School is Alive!
 
by Jack Chabert, illustrated by Sam Ricks (ages 6 – 10)
Sam isn’t thrilled about becoming a hall monitor. Especially when he discovers that the school is ALIVE and trying to harm him and the other students. Sam has quite a wild adventure trying to save the students from the school. If your child loves spooky and scary, this is a great series for them.


Spooky, Scary Chapter Books Kids Won't Be Able To Put Down
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
retold by Alvin Schwartz, illustrated by Stephen Gammell (ages 8 – 12)
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.


Spooky, Scary Chapter Books Kids Won't Be Able To Put Down
Night of the Living Dummy
by R.L. Stine (ages 7 – 10)
If you like this book, you’ll have about 1,000 more to read in this series and other series. These are fast-paced, scary chapter books on the easier side that kids LOVE. (Me, not so much but…)

Spooky, Scary Chapter Books Kids Won't Be Able To Put Down
Scarecrow’s Nightmare Maze
Batman & Robin Adventures
by J.E. Bright, illustrated by Luciano Vecchio (ages 7 – 10)
This is not a graphic novel; it’s an illustrated, action-packed and slightly scary beginning chapter book. Scarecrow has taken over the corn maze where a group of terrified teenagers are trapped. It’s up to Batman and Robin to stop Scarecrow and rescue the teens. If you’re a fan of DC Comics, or even if you’re not, you’ll find this to be a great superhero adventure story.

Spooky, Scary Chapter Books Kids Won't Be Able To Put Down
Frightmares 2: More Scary Stories for the Fearless Reader
by Michael Dahl SCARY (ages 8 – 12)
Great for scary book enthusiasts and reluctant readers, these creepy short stories are sure to keep kids enthralled.

 

Spooky, Scary Chapter Books Kids Won't Be Able To Put Down
Nightmares!
by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller, illustrated by Karl Kwasny (8 – 12 years old)
Not only is this story compelling and interesting, but so are the symbolism and life lessons. Charlie’s dad has remarried and moved Charlie and his younger brother into the stepmother’s frightening purple mansion. There, Charlie begins to have horrible nightmares that become real. The nightmare witches enter the real world to steal Charlie’s brother. Charlie follows. He and his friends must learn to face their fears to save Charlie and the world.

 


Wait Till Helen Comes
by Mary Downing Hahn (8 – 12 years old)
Both well-written and scary like all of Mary Downing Hahn’s books… Molly and Michael’s new step-sister Heather befriends a sinister ghost-child named Helen and Helen influences Heather to malevolent ends. Building in suspense little by little, readers will be freaked out when Heather keeps warning her step-siblings that when Helen comes, they will get what they deserve…YIKES!

 

Spooky, Scary Chapter Books Kids Won't Be Able To Put Down
Serafina and the Black Cloak
by Robert Beatty (9-12 years old)
This book is creepy! Serafina’s pa works at the large Biltmore Estate where they also live in the basement. Serafina, used to blending into the shadows, watches the goings-on at the Estate and realizes something very sinister is happening. Children are going missing. AND, she thinks it has to do with the man in the black cloak wandering the hallways. She and new friend, Braeden Vanderbilt, team up to discover what’s going on before more children disappear.

 



A Tale of Dark and Grimm
 by Adam Gidwitz (8 – 12 years old)
A Tale of Dark and Grimm is dark in the bloody and macabre way but good in the I-want-to-keep-reading way. Gidwitz’s imaginative story weaves Hansel and Gretel’s story with eight more Grimm stories like “Faithful Johannes,” “The Devil With the Three Golden Hairs,” and “The Seven Ravens.” In this story, brother and sister, Hansel and Gretel, have parents who are the king and queen of Grimm; parents who are cursed and unwise. Our heroines, the children, abandon their terrible parents in order to find better ones – ones that won’t try to kill them. The narrator, a strong, quirky voice, warns us of the bloody things to come. You’ll find this a fun but unusual book, one which pulls you in and keeps your interest. It, no doubt, will make you want to reread your Complete Brother’s Grimm.  (Just maybe don’t read it right before bed.)

Spooky, Scary Chapter Books Kids Won't Be Able To Put Down
Lockwood and Co.: The Screaming Staircase
 by Jonathan Stroud (9 – 15 years old)
Dangerous ghosts and spirits are appearing everywhere in London but only certain kids can see them to eradicate them. Teens Lucy, Anthony, and George badly need money for their ghost-hunting agency, Lockwood & Co., so they take a perilous job that, if the ghosts have their way, may just be their last. EXCELLENT writing & series.


The Night Gardener
by Jonathan Auxier (8 – 12 years old)
A spooky tale set in Victorian times, this atmospheric story follows young orphans working as servants at a large, creepy manor with a strange, sickly family. Nightmares, muddy footsteps, a locked room, a curse, …all the elements of this book will enthrall (and scare) readers.



Doll Bones
by Holly Black
I couldn’t read this book because it seemed 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. Yikes, right?

The Griffins of Castle Cary
by Heather Shumaker
Siblings Meg, Will, and Ariel couldn’t have known that visiting their aunt in England would put them on a ghost hunting adventure. (I did not realize this was a ghost story until a few chapters in. If you like ghost stories, you’ll want to read this book!) While Meg and Will look for information on a famous mother ghost who is searching eternally for her missing child. They’ll find her but the bigger problem is with their sister. Because unfortunately, their little sister, Ariel, becomes enraptured with a real ghost child who has nefarious purposes. Well-written, action-packed, and spooky!

best scary stories for kids
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 she had a terrible drowning accident, now Cass sees ghosts and the Veil. In fact, Cass’s best friend the ghost named Jacob that saved her life. When they all travel to Edinburgh, Scotland for the TV show, Cass discovers that she isn’t the only one who can see ghosts; she’s actually a ghost hunter. (Which Jacob doesn’t like at all.) But as she’s trying to figure out what that means, she’s terrorized by the Raven in Red, an old, female ghost who kills children. Creepy and compelling.


Spooky, Scary Chapter Books Kids Won't Be Able To Put Down
Ghost Knight
by Cornelia Funke (8 – 12 years old)
I really enjoyed this ghost story about a pair of brave kids, Jon and Ella, who are stalked by a pack of ghosts who can actually do them harm which is slightly scary. It’s very well written with excellent character development.

 


Spooky, Scary Chapter Books Kids Won't Be Able To Put Down
Coraline
 by Neil Gaiman (8 – 12 years old)
This book shows Gaiman’s incredible storytelling ability. It’s about a girl, Coraline, who discovers an alternative reality identical to her own — same house, same mother and father — through a little door in her house. It’s a world that at first seems wonderful yet it becomes frightening when Coraline realizes she might not get to leave. Very creepy.



Spooky, Scary Chapter Books Kids Won't Be Able To Put Down
Splendors and Glooms
by Laura Amy Schiltz (8 – 12 years old)
This scary gothic mystery pits an evil puppet master and an aging witch against three young children — one who has been kidnapped and turned into a puppet. If you don’t mind getting creeped out and like a good story, this book is for you.

 


Spooky, Scary Chapter Books Kids Won't Be Able To Put Down
The Whispering House
by Rebecca Wade (8 – 12 years old)
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.

 


Spooky, Scary Chapter Books Kids Won't Be Able To Put Down
Haunted Histories
by J. H. Everett (8 – 12 years old)
Believe it or not, I sat down and read this book straight through – having intended to skim it. It was fascinating! It’s more about history than spookiness – I learned more about the Tower of London, tips for attacking a castle, the crazy King Ludwig II of Bavaria, The Bastille, and lots more. I highly recommend this can’t-put-it-down book!

 

Spooky, Scary Chapter Books Kids Won't Be Able To Put Down
Olive and the Backstage Ghost
by Michelle Schusterman (8 – 12 years old)
If you like suspenseful mysteries with ghosts that aren’t too scary, this book is for you! Olive, an aspiring actress with a domineering mother, discovers she fits in perfectly at Maudeville, a gorgeous old theater she’s run away to. Not only that, she’s been cast as the lead in the newest production. But there is something weird going on — her friend’s brother lives outside the theater in the alley and continues to warn her that things aren’t what they seem. What is really going on? Is it good or bad?

 

Spooky, Scary Chapter Books Kids Won't Be Able To Put Down
The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street
by Lindsay Currie (8 – 12 years old)
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.

Spooky, Scary Chapter Books Kids Won't Be Able To Put Down
Undertakers: The Rise of the Corpses
by Ty Drago (ages 10 – 13)
A great kids-must-save-the-world book with a unique zombie/alien twist. Aliens are taking over corpses and reanimating them. Only some kids can see the real zombie beneath the alien “masks” — our hero gets the zombie sight and is rescued by a group of zombie fighters called Undertakers. He convinces the Undertakers group to stop being defensive but to be more aggressive and determine how to kill the corpses. I liked this book a lot!! (Free on Kindle Unlimited.)

 

Spooky, Scary Chapter Books Kids Won't Be Able To Put Down
Rot & Ruin  
by Jonathan Mayberry (YA/teen ages 13+)
It’s a creepy, scary, and also somewhat bittersweet world of humanity who must survive in enclaves while the hoards of zombies roam the rest of the land — zombies who used to be family and friends. Mayberry does an amazing job at making the zombies pitiful and the zombie hunters’ job (so to speak) heartbreaking but necessary. 
At age 15, Benny must either fight zombies like his brother Tom or find a different job, or else his rations will be halved.  Many of the “zoms” are people he once knew and loved and soon Benny learns that there are people in the world who are worse than the zombies.

Spooky, Scary Chapter Books Kids Won't Be Able To Put Down
The Passage
by Justin Cronin  (SERIES) (ages 17+)
This is an adult chapter book that scared the cr*p out of me– but it was such a page-turner and would work for young adults. The twist is the scary dudes aren’t really zombies but are killing with their intelligent hive-mind after an infection the government gave the prisoners goes very wrong. It’s so well written that I kept reading. ONLY read at your own risk. Seriously. Freaky.

24 best scary books for kids

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  • WELCOME

    Hi! I’m Melissa Taylor, mom, writer, & former elementary teacher & literacy trainer. I love sharing good books & fun learning resources.

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