Books that Go Bump in the Night

The air is getting crisp, leaves crunch underfoot, and a sense of spookiness can be felt all around. It’s the time of year again when witches cackle and werewolves howl, and we crawl under the covers with a flashlight and a book, hoping that the scratching at the window is just a tree branch. If you’re ready for a frighteningly good read, sink your claws into one of these great titles.

If you’re interested in finding more books that will give you the shivers, search the catalog using subject terms such as “juvenile fiction” for fiction books, “juvenile literature” for nonfiction books, and an additional term such as “Halloween,” “ghost stories,” or your favorite scary monster.

Becker, Bonny
The Frightful Ride of Michael McMichael. 2018 (Picture Book).
Little Michael McMichael is on a trip to deliver something to his beloved grandmother. But as soon as he steps on the Thirteen bus, something feels very off. The creepy driver only gets creepier, and the bus only gets more abnormal as the other passengers disembark! With eerily silly illustrations by Mark Fearing, the twist ending will leave you gasping!
[S-Collection Q. SE. B388fr]

Becker, Helaine
Monster Science: Could Monsters Survive (and Thrive!) in the Real World? 2016 (Nonfiction).
Think you know all there is to know about monsters? Think again! This fun, engaging book delves into the real-life science behind the creatures we all know and love. Discover the history of sea monsters. Learn if electricity really could make human organs function after death. Complete with jokes, trivia, and a whole lot of science, this is one you won’t want to miss.
[S-Collection S.001.944 B38845m]

Brendler, Carol
Not Very Scary. 2014 (Picture Book).
Melly the monster does not scare easily. In fact, she doesn’t get scared at all! So when she sets out to her cousin’s house for a big surprise, it doesn’t frighten her one bit when more and more creepy creatures start to follow her on her way. Or does it…?
[S-Collection Q. SE. B7504n]

Caswell, Deanna
Boo! Haiku. 2016 (Juvenile Poetry).
Colorful pictures and creative poetic riddles will keep little ones guessing about which spooky character will appear on the next page. Each hint is told in the form of a haiku, a traditional Japanese style of poetry that includes 5 syllables on the first line, 7 on the second, and 5 on the third. This is a real page turner because you never know who you’ll find next!
[S-Collection SE. C2799bo]

Cuyler, Margery
Skeleton Hiccups. 2002 (Picture Book).
Is there anything scarier than hiccups you can’t get rid of? Poor Skeleton is afflicted, and despite his best efforts, they won’t go away! Will they ever leave his rattling bones in peace? Clever illustrations by S. D. Schindler make this a classic you’ll return to year after year.
[S-Collection SE. C99sk]

Fleming, Candace
On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave. 2012 (Young Adult Fiction).
Set in an actual (and allegedly haunted) cemetery outside of Chicago, this distinctly Illinoisan set of ghost stories follows the tales of several teen spirits recounting how they died, all involving the supernatural. Each ghost belongs to a different era in history from 1860 to the present, and together they paint a marvelous picture of some of the most exciting events in Illinois history.
[S-Collection S. F629o]

Howard, Martin
How to Slay a Werewolf. 2014 (Nonfiction).
Plagued by a lycanthrope? No problem! In this hilarious guide to werewolves, Professor Van Helsing teaches you all the tips and tricks you’ll need to rid yourself of that bothersome beast once and for all. Complete with a history of werewolves, this is your one stop shop for all things lupine.
[S-Collection S.398.2454 H835h]

Monahan, Hillary
Mary: The Summoning. 2014 (Young Adult Fiction).
Four teen girls link hands to summon the spirit of Bloody Mary. But when one of the girls takes it too far, Mary is released from her mirror and seeks revenge. Friendships are challenged and lives are changed as the girls struggle to escape Mary’s grasp. Easily the scariest book on this list, it is not for the faint of heart.
[S-Collection S. M7412m]

Sloat, Teri
Zip! Zoom! On a Broom! 2017 (Picture Book).
One by one, ten witches jump on a broom, and one by one, they drop off again! Illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet, this rhyming story all about counting up and down makes for a great read-aloud with a witchy theme.
[S-Collection Q. SE. Sl52z]

Tan, Shaun
The Singing Bones: Inspired by Grimms’ Fairy Tales. 2016 (Young Adult Fiction).
Explore Grimms’ fairy tales as you’ve never seen them before. Eerie sculptures by visionary artist Shaun Tan accompany snippets of 75 tales, leaving you with a strong sense of foreboding. Complete with an introduction by Neil Gaiman, fans of fairy tales and folklore won’t want to miss this one.
[S-Collection S.398.210943 T1535si]


The Reading Dead: Zombie Fun for All Ages

Zombies are a Halloween staple. However, the living undead aren’t exactly child-friendly, what with the clamoring for brains and terrorizing of cities — not to mention all that rotting flesh. But do zombies have to be scary? Of course not! Below are books that range from funny to frightening. These are for kids of all ages — and all those zombie-loving kids at heart. To find books about zombies, try a subject search of “juvenile literature” combined with a keyword search of “zombie,” “undead,” or other scary words.

Picture Books

Crow, Kristyn.
Zombelina. 2013.
Zombelina loves to dance—but she gives her dance class, full of “real” girls, the spooks. Will Zombelina battle stage fright and make her ghoulish family proud at the big recital?

Harris, Monica A.
Wake the Dead. 2004.
Henry has been warned: if he makes too much noise, he will wake the dead. He didn’t listen—now he has to find a way to put them back to sleep!

Kutner, Merrily.
The Zombie Nite Café. 2007.
A boy and his dog take a rhyming excursion and encounter funny monsters—and their favorite delicacies—at the Zombie Nite Café.

San Souci, Robert D.
The Faithful Friend. 1995.
In this classic tale from Martinique, two friends encounter love, zombies, and danger.

Beginner and Intermediate Books

Bolger, Kevin.
Zombiekins. 2008.
Stanley Nudelman buys a weird stuffed animal at the yard sale of a woman rumored to be a witch, and now he and his friend Miranda have to save their classmates from becoming zombies.

Doyle, Bill
The Zombie at the Finish Line. 2013.
Patsy the Zombie can’t seem to keep her head on her shoulders for a whole track-and-field day, but her team helps her realize that everyone has their own special skills.

Holt, K. A.
Brains for Lunch: A Zombie Novel in Haiku?! 2010.
Zombie Loeb likes haikus—and his living classmate, Siobhan. The story of his middle school cafeteria, filled with mythical monsters, is a funny tale told in verse.

Moskowitz, Hannah.
Zombie Tag. 2011.
Wil is desperate for his older brother to return from the dead. The thing is, zombies don’t make the best siblings.

Nickel, Scott.
Invasion of the Gym Class Zombies. 2008.
Trevor has some experience fighting zombies—but he thought those days were over. Now he has to rescue his whole gym class from the evil Mr. Brawnium, who wants all his students to be zombified jocks.
[SSHEL S COLLECTION S. 741.5973. N532i]

Savage, J. Scott.
Zombie Kid. 2013.
Both funny and scary, when an amulet turns Nick into a zombie, it sets him on a quest to defeat the zombie king.

Whitehouse, Howard.
Zombie Elementary: The Real Story. 2014.
Larry Mullet is an average fourth-grade boy. He is also a zombie hunter. Larry lays down the truth about what happened at his elementary school after a classmate tries to take a bite out of him. “Fun facts” and tips are included.

Intermediate and Teen Books

Ford, Michael Thomas.
Z. 2010.
In the year 2032, after a virus that turned people into zombies has been eradicated, Josh joins an underground gamer society where the goal is to hunt zombies.

Garner, Em.
Contaminated. 2013.
Velvet fights for her family’s survival after a trendy diet drink turns many people—including her mother—into violent, zombie-like creatures.

Harris, Carrie.
Bad Taste in Boys. 2011.
Future doctor Kate must find an antidote to the zombie steroids the football coach is giving to his players.

Hart, Jeff.
Eat, Brains, Love. 2013.
Teen zombies Jake and Amanda are on the run from Cass, a psychic working with the government to hide the existence of the undead.

Higson, Charlie.
The Fear. 2012.
After a worldwide sickness turns everyone over the age of sixteen into zombies, Dognut and his crew embark on a deadly mission to find missing friends and avoid the bloodthirsty adults.

Lackey, Mercedes.
Dead Reckoning. 2012.
In 1867 Texas, Jett, a girl passing as a boy, seeks her long-lost twin brother and investigates a zombie army that is terrorizing the West.

McKay, Kirsty.
Undead. 2012.
On a school trip to snowy Scotland, several students become infected with a zombie virus while the remaining survivors take refuge in a school bus.

Perez, Marlene.
Dead is a Battlefield. 2012.
Poor Jessica Walsh is just trying to survive Nightshade High—but what to do when she finds out that one of her classmates is turning girls into love sick zombies?

Summers, Courtney.
This is Not a Test. 2012.
Sloane doesn’t want to survive the zombie attacks—but she’s trapped at school with five people who do. As time passes, the group becomes more unpredictable and violent in their fight for life.

Unsworth, Tania.
The One Safe Place. 2014.
Devin lives in a futuristic world of greed. He is relieved when he earns a coveted spot in a home for children, where there is always enough food and he is promised a new family, but when he starts investigating the zombie-like sickness afflicting the children, the terror begins.

Waters, Daniel.
Generation Dead. 2008.
When dead teens don’t stay dead, they have to go to school. When living Phoebe starts dating “living impaired” Tommy, they face prejudice and fear.

Boooooks for Spooks: Scary Stories to Test Your Mettle

I am a big wimp. I find haunted houses to be genuinely terrifying. Watching a horror movie can keep me awake at night for a week. I really believed, as a child, that my little sister was a vampire (I’m pretty sure now that she’s not).

But some people love to be scared. If you’re one of those brave souls, this roundup of scary stories is just for you. As for me, I got the shivers just reading the summaries.

Search Tips

Lots of scary books can be found by doing a keyword search for “juvenile fiction” and the spook of your choice. Some suggestions: horror stories, scary stories, ghosts, zombies, haunted houses, vampires, supernatural, aliens…you get the picture. Doing the search this way will bring up picture books, middle-grade books, and young adult books.

If you’re looking for collections of classic scary tales, chances are they will be shelved with the fairy tales and folktales. If this sounds like your speed, try searching for “juvenile literature” and a scary keyword. You might also try adding an additional geographic keyword — this way you can compare the vampire stories in Japan to the ones in Romania.

Let’s say you are interested in real ghosts. Real ghosts?!? Real ghosts. Or perhaps the science of fear. Testimonies from alien abductees? You’ll want to search non-fiction by using the keyword “juvenile literature” and your subject keywords. Try “White House” and “Ghosts”!

Intermediate Fiction

Caszatt, Terry
Brass Monkeys. 2010.
When Eugene transfers to a new school in northern Michigan, he meets his scary English teacher named “Ming the Merciless” and embarks on the most frightening school field trip of his life.
[S-Collection S. C2799b]

Kent, Derek Taylor
Scary School. 2011.
Describes a year at Scary School, where werewolves, zombies, and humans mingle and the teachers range from dragons to vampires.
[S-Collection S. K4141s]

Schwartz, Alvin
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: Collected from Folklore. 2010
Tapped from the oral traditions of American folklore, these ghost stories and tales of weird happenings, witches, and graveyards have startling, funny, or surprising endings.
[S-Collection S.398.25 Sch95s2011]

Intermediate Non-Fiction

Belanger, Jeff
Who’s Haunting the White House? The President’s Mansion and the Ghosts who Live There. 2008.
Come explore the spooky world inside the White House! It’s one of America’s most famous and haunted homes. We’ll hear true, scary stories from past Presidents and First Ladies, as well as from staff who work there every day and have had the chance to see it all. To increase the chills, a variety of archival images and original illustrations capture the hauntings.
[S-Collection Q. S.133.129753 B41w]

Gee, Joshua
Encyclopedia Horrifica: The Terrifying Truth! About Vampires, Ghosts, Monsters, and More. 2007.
A visual reference contains true stories of such creatures as vampires, aliens, werewolves, and ghosts, accompanied by photographic evidence, eyewitness accounts, and original interviews.
[S-Collection S.001.9 G27e]

Hawes, Jason
Ghost Hunt 2: More Chilling Tales of the Unknown. 2011.
Collects stories from the stars of the TV show “Ghost Hunters” about spooky paranormal investigations based on real ghost hunts.
[S-Collection S. H3123gh]

O’Meara, Stephen James
Are You Afraid Yet? The Science Behind Scary Stuff. 2009.
Uncover the truth behind such scaremongers as King Kong, UFOs, vampires, mummies, ghosts, haunted houses, and many more with first-person and historical accounts and expert scientific opinions. The comic-book style panels and bite-sized freaky facts mean that you can gorge on or just nibble little bits of scary stuff.
[S-Collection S.001.944 Om2a]

Young Adult Fiction

Higson, Charles
The Dead. 2011.
As a disease turns everyone over sixteen into brainless, decomposing, flesh-eating creatures, a group of teenagers head to London. Ed, Jack, Bam and the other students at Rowhurst School learn more about the Disaster, and meet an adult who seems to be immune to the disease.
[S-Collection S. H539de]

Hill, Will
Department 19. 2011.
After watching his father’s brutal murder, sixteen-year-old Jamie Carpenter joins Department 19, a secret government agency, where he learns of the existence of vampires and the history that ties him to the team destined to stop them.
[S-Collection S. H5562d]

Ness, Patrick
A Monster Calls: A Novel. 2011.
Thirteen-year-old Conor awakens one night to find a monster outside his bedroom window, but not the one from the recurring nightmare that began when his mother became ill. This monster is an ancient, wild creature that wants him to face truth and loss.
[S-Collection S. N373mo]

Ryan, Carrie
The Forest of Hands and Teeth. 2009.
Through twists and turns of fate, orphaned Mary seeks knowledge of life, love, and especially what lies beyond her walled village and the surrounding forest, where dwell the unconsecrated, aggressive flesh-eating people who were once dead.
[S-Collection S. R9522f]

Yancey, Richard
The Isle of Blood: William James Henry. 2011.
When Dr. Warthrop goes hunting for the “Holy Grail of Monstrumology” in 1888, twelve-year-old orphan Will Henry follows him to Socotra, plunging into depths of horror worse than anything he has experienced so far.
[S-Collection S. Y15i]
Prepared by:
Mary Dubbs
Graduate Student
Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Halloween Picture Books for Preschoolers

What better books to share with children than stories about Jack-o-lanterns, trick-or-treating, skeletons, and haunted houses, when Halloween is drawing near? Most of the following titles, collected from a posting compiled by Stacey Schultz (Oct 21, 2005) at the PUBYAC ( listserv, are non-scary picture books that librarians have reported to be successful with preschoolers. Titles with an asterisk may be scary stories.

At the end of this post is a search method to locate many more juvenile titles about Halloween in our library.

Bollinger, Peter.
Algernon Graeves Is Scary Enough. 2005.
Algernon Graeves wants to wear the darkest, scariest Halloween costume ever to go trick-or-treating and finally thinks of just the right thing.
Location: Center for Children’s Books
Call Number: Q. SE. B638a

Brown, Ruth.
*A Dark, Dark Tale: Story and Pictures. 1981.
Journeying through a dark, dark house, a black cat surprises the only inhabitant of the abandoned residence.
Location: Education Remote Storage
Call Number: SE. B8144D

Cazet, Denys.
The Perfect Pumpkin Pie. 2005.
Mr. Wilkerson, lover of pie, returns as a ghost on Halloween to demand some good pie from Jack and his grandmother.
Location: Center for Children’s Books
Call Number: Q. SE. C319p

DeFelice, Cynthia C.
The Dancing Skeleton. 1989.
An ornery dead man refuses to stay in his coffin and causes a disturbance when the best fiddler in town comes to call on his widow.
Location: Education Remote Storage
Call Number: SE. D361D

Desimini, Lisa.
Trick-or-Treat, Smell My Feet! 2005.
When twin witches Delia and Ophelia cook up a mischievous spell for Halloween, a mysterious ingredient causes the potion to backfire.
Location: Education S Collection
Call Number: Q. SE. D461t

Emberley, Ed.
*Go Away, Big Green Monster! 1992.
Die-cut pages through which bits of a monster are revealed are designed to help a child control nighttime fears of monsters.
Location: Education S Collection
Call Number: Q.SE. EM13G

Galdone, Paul.
The Teeny-Tiny Woman; A Ghost Story. 1984.
Retells the tale of the teeny-tiny woman who finds a teeny-tiny bone in a churchyard and puts it away in her cupboard before she goes to sleep.
Location: Education Storage
Call Number: SE. G131TE

Graves, Keith.
Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance. 1999.
Frank the monster indulges his love of dancing by strutting his stuff on stage until his head unzips, his brains flop out, and he continues to lose body parts.
Location: Center for Children’s Books
Call Number: SE. G785f

Hall, Zoe.
It’s Pumpkin Time! 1994.
A sister and brother plant and tend their own pumpkin patch so they will have jack-o-lanterns for Halloween.
Location: Education S Collection
Call Number: Q.SE. H1495I

Heller, Nicholas.
*Goblins in Green. 1995.
A succession of goblins, from Annabelle in an amber blouse to Zelda in a zebra anorak, presents the letters of the alphabet.
Location: I-Share Libraries

Hubbard, Patricia.
Trick or Treat Countdown. 1999.
A counting book that lists scary sights on Halloween, from one haunted house to twelve creeping cats.
Location: Center for Children’s Books
Call Number: SE. H861t

Johnston, Tony.
Very Scary. 1995.
A pumpkin shimmering in the moonlight attracts the attention of an owl, a cat, crickets, a witch, and a group of boys and girls, who change it into a scary jack-o-lantern.
Location: Education Storage
Call Number: SE. J648VE

Krosoczka, Jarrett.
*Annie was Warned. 2003.
Disregarding warnings about the creepy mansion outside of town, Annie bravely goes to investigate on Halloween night and gets a big surprise.
Location: Education S Collection
Call Number: Q. SE. K928a

London, Jonathan.
Froggy’s Halloween. 1999.
Froggy tries to find just the right costume for Halloween and although his trick-or-treating does not go as he had planned, he enjoys himself anyway.
Location: Education S Collection
Call Number: Q. SE. L8462frog

Mathews, Judith & Robinson, Fay.
Nathaniel Willy, Scared Silly. 1994.
Nathaniel Willy is scared silly by a squeak in his door, so Gramma must put the farm animals in bed with him for company.
Location: Education Storage
Call Number: SE. M4242N

Mayr, Diane.
Littlebat’s Halloween Story. 2001.
Littlebat loves to listen to the stories being told below the attic where he sleeps, but he has to wait until just the right time to get close enough to hear them better.
Location: Education S Collection
Call Number: SE. M455l

McBratney, Sam.
*The Dark at the Top of the Stairs. 1996.
Knowing that he must satisfy their curiosity, an old mouse agrees to show three young mice the “monster” at the top of the stairs.
Location: Education Storage
Call Number: Q.SE. M1212D

Meister, Cari.
Luther’s Halloween. 2004.
On Halloween, a boy and his pet triceratops named Luther thwart a bully dressed as Dracula who has been taking candy from other trick-or-treaters.
Location: Education S Collection
Call Number: SE. M479l

Melmed, Laura Krauss.
Fright Night Flight. 2002.
On her way to Halloween trick-or-treating, a witch makes room on her broom for a group of fiendish friends.
Location: I-Share Libraries

Pilkey, Dav.
The Hallo-wiener. 1995.
All the other dogs make fun of Oscar the dachshund until one Halloween when, dressed as a hot dog, Oscar bravely rescues the others.
Location: Center for Children’s Books
Call Number: Q.SE. P644H

Preston, Edna Mitchell.
One Dark Night. [1969]
The Jack-o’-lantern, skeleton, scarecrow, witch, ghost, and robber who came sneaking down the road one dark night were all frightened home by the squeak of a mouse.
Location: I-Share Libraries

Rex, Michael.
Brooms Are for Flying! 2000.
A group of young trick-or-treaters demonstrate that “feet are for stomping,” “eyes are for peeking,” “mouths are for moaning,” and “tummies are for treating.”
Location: Education Storage
Call Number: SE. R3291b

Root, Phyllis.
Oliver Finds His Way. 2002.
Oliver the bear becomes lost when he chases a leaf to the edge of the woods, but then he comes up with an idea to find his way back home.
Location: Education Storage
Call Number: SE. R678ol

Serfozo, Mary.
Plumply, Dumply Pumpkin. 2001.
Peter finds the perfect pumpkin so that he and his Dad can make a jack-o-lantern.
Location: I-Share Libraries

Silverman, Erica.
Big Pumpkin. 1992.
A witch trying to pick a big pumpkin on Halloween discovers the value of cooperation when she gets help from a series of monsters.
Location: Education Storage
Call Number: Q.SE. SI393B

Thompson, Lauren.
Mouse’s First Halloween. 2000.
“One spooky night in the fall, Mouse creeps out and hears bats flying flit! flit! flit! and apples dropping plop! plop! plop! and children singing ‘trick or treat!’ What could it be?”
Location: Education S Collection
Call Number: SE. T3751mh

Wheeler, Lisa.
One Dark Night. 2003.
Mouse and Mole feel afraid one dark night crossing a mush-mucky swamp and a marsh-misty wood.
Location: Center for Children’s Books
Call Number: Q. SE. W565o

Williams, Linda.
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything. 1986.
A little old lady who is not afraid of anything must deal with a pumpkin head, a tall black hat, and other spooky objects that follow her through the dark woods trying to scare her.
Location: I-Share Libraries

Wojciechowski, Susan.
The Best Halloween of All. 1998.
A young boy recalls all the Halloween costume agonies he’s been through, until, at last, he gets to do things his own way!
Location: Education Storage
Call Number: SE. W829b1998

Looking for more Halloween books?

While you are at the Online Library Catalog page
Click on ‘Advanced Search,’ and, in the search screen, type in the following words on the left column and make choices from the drop-down menus on the right:

Halloween – all of these words – Subject Words
juvenile – all of these words – Subject Words

Other subject words you may try in your search:
– Bats
– Costume
– Fear
– Ghosts
– Haunted houses
– Jack-o-lanterns
– Monsters
– Pumpkin
– Witches