The air has turned cooler, the days are shorter and nights longer, which only gives us more time to curl up with a good book. And this time of year is perfect for one with thrills and chills. I encourage you to look beyond the typical Halloween fare to books that include suspense, other-worldly characters, and the macabre. The following is a list of creepy tales for kids of all ages. Read – if you dare!
The Doghouse by Jan Thomas (Babies to Age 3)
With its bright, cartoonish illustrations and familiar characters (cow, pig, duck, and mouse), this book is perfect for your little goblins as both an introduction to suspense as well as cause and effect. The story starts on the end papers with the friends playing a game of kickball and the ball headed straight to the [gulp] doghouse. The scene changes from a bright sunny day, to a dark and stormy night, leaving the friends looking terrified. One by one, they each enter the foreboding doghouse to retrieve the ball, never to return. When Mouse is left alone, a pair of eyes and sharp, pointy teeth peek out to exclaim that he’s having duck for dinner. I don’t want to spoil it – you’ll have to check out the book to find out the ending!
Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown (Ages 3-5)
Jasper couldn’t get enough of the carrots from Crackenhopper Field…until they’d had enough of him. It seemed like everywhere he went, they were lurking in the shadows. But when he flicked on the lights…gone. Illustrated throughout using only grey with orange, we see that perhaps Jasper’s imagination is getting the best of him…or is it? A suspenseful read for preschoolers without a pumpkin or bat in sight. There is even a sequel – A Creepy Pair of Underwear that was just released. I adore this book and immediately thought to add to my list.
Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe (Beginning Readers)
First vegetables…tomorrow, the world! One night, the Monroe’s return from the movies with a new addition to the family, a white bunny with cape-like markings and fangs that they decidedly call, Bunnicula. Harold and Chester (the family dog and cat respectively) are immediately suspicious when vegetables are turning up white and devoid of juice. Could Bunnicula be a real vampire? Chester is determined to find out! Told by Harold, this tale is the beginning of a well-loved series great for new readers ready for their first chapter books.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (3rd to 6th Grade)
“There was a hand in the darkness. It was holding a knife.” A sinister opening sure to catch the attention of any tween. What follows is the murder of three of four family members in their beds, the baby left toddling about in the graveyard. The orphan is adopted by ghosts, Mr. and Mrs. Owens, who were never able to have human children. The counsel of ghosts meets to decide what to do with the boy, naming him Nobody- Bod for short. This Newberry Medal Winner is full of spirits, witches, a werewolf, a vampire, and other mysterious creatures. As Bod grows, the threat of Jack, his would-be-murderer, never really fades. Equal parts mystery and coming of age story, this book is a great choice for tweens, as it’s not overly scary, though has suspenseful moments throughout. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but in this novel, it takes a graveyard.
Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty (Young Teens)
Biltmore Estate, 1899. Serafina, daughter of the estate’s maintenance man, is no ordinary twelve-year-old. She has glowing, amber eyes, eight toes, and the uncanny ability to hunt the rats of the basement where she and her pa secretly live. When she encounters a foul-smelling man in a black cloak abducting a girl in a yellow dress, Serafina barely escapes in time. As children from the mansion continue to disappear, she emerges from the basement to enlist the help of Braeden, nephew of the famed Vanderbilt’s. Together, they must track down the man in the cloak before he claims his next victims – them. A pulse-quickening tale of mystery, magic, fantasy, and history come together in the first of a now-complete trilogy.
This list merely scratches the surface of the wealth of material available to satisfy the thrill-seeker in all of us. Check out the video below and visit us at the at the library for you next adventure!
Micha O’Connor, Community Events Liaison for Youth Services, doesn’t scare easily- she used to work in a haunted house. She grew up reading Goosebumps, Scary Stories to tell in the Dark, and watching horror movies with her friends.