Must Read Scary Books for Kids: Middle Grade Readers Beware!

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‘Tis the season to be SPOOKY! And we’re all about those scary books for kids!

Deliver to us all the thrills and scary chills in the form of scary books, please! 

In this current moment, it’s October and that means it is time for ghosts, goblins, and other spooky creatures to pop up from the woodwork. There is something so right about reading scary books at the change of the fall season, isn’t there?

Kids [and parents] are often looking for the next Goosebumps or Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark during this time. These books are not always easy to find. Soooo, we have compiled a list of must read scary books that will make you jump out of your seat– just for you!

BEWARE! These books might give you nightmares. But don’t worry there is not much gore or violence so they can be enjoyed by middle grade readers of all ages! There is also a graphic novel on this list for those who love those!

So, grab your warm blanket and a cup of hot cocoa and let’s get spooked!

If you love this post, be sure to check out The Best Middle Grade Books for Kids according to Goodreads


Check out our entire book collection here!

Table of Contents

A house with two worlds.
Neil Gaiman

This book is first on the list only because it was the first book that continues to give me chills down my spine when I think about it. I genuinely become concerned about all the children who read this when Gaiman brings us through the climax of this wonderous, magical tale. Gaiman’s writing is so captivating and whimsical. Nevertheless, this is one very scary book for kids!

Also by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book
A graphic novel suited to scare!
Cullen Bunn illustrated by Cat Ferris

The Ghoul Next Door is a graphic novel about a boy named Grey who encounters a ghoul. He begins receiving some strange gifts, much like those a cat brings to their owners during the dead of night, and even scarier visits at night! Not even his best friend believes his wild stories until one night… Cat Ferris’ artwork throughout this graphic novel is extremely well done! I soaked in every page.

Don't be caught alone with a witch.
Roald Dahl

The witches in this book loathe children so much they eat them! And they all get together to talk about eating children and well, you get the picture. There is a scene in this book when a child, who is up in a tree, is encountered by a witch and omg, it is so terrifying!

Lindsay Currie

All Ginny Anderson wants from her summer is to sleep in, attend a mystery writing workshop, and spend time with her best friend. But when Ginny’s father―a respected restoration expert in Chicago―surprises the family with a month-long trip to Michigan, everything changes. They aren’t staying in a hotel like most families would. No, they’re staying in a mansion. A twenty-six room, century-old building surrounded by dense forest. Woodmoor Manor.

But unfortunately, the mansion has more problems than a little peeling wallpaper. Locals claim the surrounding woods are inhabited by mutated creatures with glowing eyes. And some say campers routinely disappear in the woods, never to be seen again.

As terrifying as it sounds, Ginny can’t shake the feeling that there’s something darker . . . another story she hasn’t been told. When the creaky floors and shadowy corners of the mansion seem to take on a life of their own, Ginny uncovers the wildest mystery of all: There’s more than one legend roaming Saugatuck, Michigan, and they definitely aren’t after campers.

It’s after her.

Don't be caught alone with a witch.
Robert Beatty

“Never go into the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul.”

It is 1899 and 12-year-old Serafina lives with her Pa in the basement of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Pa had come to Asheville years ago to help with construction and stayed on as a fixer of all things mechanical in the 250-room mansion. For reasons unknown to Serafina, they must keep their nightly lodgings in the basement a secret as well as the existence of Serafina herself.

Winner of the California Young Readers Medal 2015

A collection of serious scary stuff!
Anica Mrose Rissi

If you are a fan of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series by Alan Schwartz, well tighten up your bootstraps for this collection of scary stories! My goodness some of these stories leave you completely wide-eyed, contemplating what-if scenarios in your head. Oh, there are worm babies in this book… beware!

What if you could see ghosts?
V.E. Schwab

This is book #1 of the wildly popular middle grade series about Cassidy Blake who almost lost her life to drowning in a lake. Miraculously she was saved by… a ghost! Now she can see ghosts stuck between life and death. This veil pulls Cassidy into a whole new world when she travels to Edinburgh with her family and she has a hard time breaking free. If you like ghosts and thrills, this book is for you.

From the master of ghost stories...
Mary Downing Hahn

Mary Downing Hahn is the master of ghost stories for kids. She’s got the old, haunted house with captive ghosts who are hundreds of years old type of vibe going on with this one. If you like this, check out another one of her popular scary books, The Doll in the Garden.

Also by Mary Downing Hahn

The Doll in the Garden

Wait Till Helen Comes
A classic tale of a haunted traveling carnival.
Ray Bradbury

I’ll spare you the rant about how much Ray Bradbury has impacted my soul as a reader. Something Wicked This Way Comes is a scary novel that explores good and evil. It’s classic, it’s eerie, it involves a haunted traveling carnival, and even though I never heard the sound of a calliope, I can vividly recall its sound the way Bradbury describes it. A MASTER story-teller, maybe the BEST to have ever lived. 🙈

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What lies beneath?
Jenna Lehne

What lies beneath the bone tree is someone who may be able to help Elsie from losing her best friend forever. We’ve got friendship, we’ve got terror, and we’ve got tears with this book by Jenna Lehne. This book is suspenseful and fast-paced for any reader who loves a good scary middle grade book.

Hansel and Gretel reimagined.
Adam Gidwitz

If you’re familiar with the forever scary Brothers Grimm fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel (yeah, the one with all the blood and violence ._.), you’ll love this original story by Gidwitz. Hansel and Gretel leave their infamous story book and travel to other Grimm fairy tales and it ain’t no walk in the park if you know what I’m saying.

Other books in this series include:

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Can you please this witch with your scary stories?
J. A. White

Alex hates his scary stories because people think he is weird and needs help. Alex wants to burn them in his apartment complex’s boiler. On the way to the basement, he becomes mesmerized by the sound of his favorite movie and the delicious smells coming from Apartment 4E. When Alex wakes up, he is trapped and comes face to face with a ravenous witch who needs his scary stories to survive.

A creepy boarding school... very creepy.
Claire Legrand

A boarding school thriller where the children face real-life hardships and discover there is much more living in their home than just boys and girls! This one is creepy, folks! For fans of Coraline and the A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

There is something fishy about the girl in the neighborhood...
Sachiko Kashiwaba

A July/August 2021 Kids’ Indie Next Pick

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

This ghost story is an international middle grade book translated from Japanese. The translation is a bit choppy however, it captures a particular cultural essence that I quite enjoyed. Kazu sees a ghost step out of his house through his bedroom window and the very next day the girl, in human form, is sat in his classroom! People insist she has always been there. Oh, so mysterious and intriguing!

Hopefully you have found something in this list that will please your little dark heart for this season! We love hearing from you. Comment below with your thoughts on any of these scary books for kids or if we missed a good one! What would be your perfect Halloween read? 

Happy reading! Don’t forget your night light!