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