The monster in the closet. The Boogieman. The ghost in the mirror. The footsteps in the hallway. The howling wind outside at night. The blinking eyes under the bed.
These are the terrors of our childhoods. While some children are genuinely terrified by these tales, others cheer for one more spooky campfire story or coerce their slumber party pals to chant “Bloody Mary” in the bathroom mirror just to see if she’ll show up.
For those children, we’ve collected a few scary stories to sate their gruesome curiosity.
1. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz, illustrated by Stephen Gammell
This creepy collection contains not only scary stories, but some of the most terrifying illustrations to ever appear in a children’s book.
They are so creepy, the publisher re-released the entire series of books a few years ago with far less scary, though still excellent, illustrations from Brett Helquist who illustrated the Lemony Snicket books.
Thankfully, we sell used books and have the original in stock.
2. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Even Neil Gaiman considers Coraline the strangest book he’s ever written, which is saying something because Gaiman often specializes in strange.
He set out to write it for his daughters so they would have a scary book with a cool female heroine.
Gaiman has noted in several interviews that adults tend to read it as a horror story while kids read it as an adventure.
3. I Spy a Scary Monster by Jen Marzollo & Water Wick
This not-so-scary books comes from the classic I Spy series and features “scary” monsters alongside the traditional riddles.
This is essential early training for all future ghost busters, monster hunters and vampire slayers.
4. M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman
As mentioned above, Gaiman specializes in strange.
This collection of short stories isn’t entirely scary, but it does feature a haunting Jack-in-the-Box and a stray cat that battles evil.
5. The Orphan of Awkward Falls by Keith Graves
This is a classic tale of the girl next door who meets the mad scientist orphan boy who has an automaton butler and at cat made of spare parts.
Soon an escaped criminal from the Asylum for the Dangerously Insane is after them seeking revenge. See, classic tale. Nothing too out of the ordinary.
6. Goosebumps: Welcome to Camp Nightmare by R.L. Stine
Goosebumps books are a childhood rite of passage for many kids.
The series takes kids on all sorts of spooky adventures related to real-life situations like camp, getting your picture taken and egg monsters from Mars.
We’ve also rounded up most of R.L. Stine’s scary books on a pinboard.