It’s that time of year again: time for hayrides, pumpkin picking, trick-or-treating, and…reading? That’s right! It’s never quite Halloween for me unless scary stories are involved, and if you know me, there’s almost nothing I love more than a good scary story. If your child also enjoys getting a little spooked in the name of the season, then cozy on up by the fire and check out this list of scary Halloween stories.
Listed from least scary to most scary, all of the spooky books below have been chosen with students in mind, but trust me when I say they are fun for guys and ghouls (I couldn’t resist!) of all ages.
Scary Stories for Students: 7 Series
1. I Spy
The I Spy series by Jean Marzollo and with photographs by Walter Wick never disappoints. They have an I Spy book for every age and nearly every occasion. Not stories technically, these fun riddles will have you and your family scouring every spooky scene to find the hidden objects. For Halloween, try I Spy Spooky Night, I Spy a Pumpkin, or I Spy a Skeleton.
2. In a Dark, Dark Room
Written at a primary level, In a Dark, Dark Room by Alvin Schwartz (of Scary Stories fame – more on that later!) and with illustrations by Dirk Zimmer provides a great introduction to the horror genre for your beginning reader. Your child will love reading these spooky stories for him or herself, but you will have just as much fun if you dare to read them together!
3. The Bailey School Kids
The Bailey School Kids series – co-authored by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones with illustrations by John Gurney – is great any time of year, but the topics can seem especially relevant around Halloween. I spent many years in elementary school working my way through this series, and with 51 books, there is plenty to work through! If you’d like, start with book #1: Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots, and work your way through, although you can read them in any order you please.
If I thought I spent a lot of time reading The Bailey School Kids as a child, I spent even more on Goosebumps! These frighteningly fun books by R.L. Stine are sure to please the young horror lover in your family. In fact, I recall days where I would come home loaded down with Goosebumps and only Goosebumps from the library and devour more than one in a sitting! It doesn’t matter which order you read these stories in, but if you are brave enough to read all 62 original books, you can start with #1 – Welcome to the Dead House – and go from there.
5. Scary Stories
If I could choose only one series to recommend to you on this list, it would be the Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz, and with illustrations by Stephen Gammell. And trust me when I say you want to spend the extra time finding copies with the original illustrations by Gammell. They give each story a truly terrifying touch. There are three books in this series: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones. I have fond memories of reading these tales with my family throughout my childhood, and this series is definitely responsible for starting my lifelong love of everything scary. If you have a horror-lover on your hands, he or she will certainly enjoy these books!
6. Scary Stories for Sleepovers
This series has several books in it, but the one I would recommend, and the one I spend countless hours reading and re-reading as a child is the fourth book in the series: Even More Scary Stories for Sleepovers – written by Q.L. Pearce and with illustrations by Dwight Been. Beware: these tales are slightly scarier than the Scary Stories series, so I would recommend them for the older reader or a more experienced horror reader.
7. Fear Street
The scariest and most mature books on this list, Fear Street is another series by horror master R.L. Stine. As a child, I loved graduating from the less scary Goosebumps series and into the much more frightening world of Fear Street. If you can believe it, there are 52 books in the original series! Why not start from the very beginning with The New Girl, and see how long you can last on Fear Street? Warning: As previously stated, these books are of a more mature subject matter and are the scariest on the list. I recommend them for an older reader or an advanced horror reader.
What do you think? Do your children love scary stories? Have you read any of these spooky books? Are there any I missed? We would love to hear from you in the comments!
Author: Emily Karth, Writer and Teacher at A Grade Ahead.