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]


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