Spooky Stories for Kids: A Q&A for Parents

Is it weird that my kid likes to be scared? That they like to read scary things?!

No! It’s totally normal. Watching scary movies and reading spooky books can help build resiliency. However, it’s important to keep in mind how easily your kid gets scared and proceed at their rate regardless of their age. Always start with age appropriate materials. Goosebumps is a much better introduction than Stephen King! If your kid starts having more nightmares or anxiety, then you need to pull back on the scary stuff. This article goes into more details with an interview with a pediatric therapist. 

How scary are children’s books?

Within children’s books, there’s a huge range of spook-factor in the books. In the children’s room, most of the stories are about as scary as the movies Hocus Pocus, Scooby Doo, or Coraline. Once you get into the teen books, the books can be much scarier! (Far too scary for Miss Jessica, and she loves the spooky stories in the children’s room!) Several ways to check how scary a book is would be to read a book review online, look it up on commonsensemedia.org, or ask one of the children’s librarians!

So my kid is into spooky stories, but how do I know the books aren’t too scary for them?

The answer is - it depends! What is scary to one person may not be scary to another. Your child may be fascinated by stories about haunted dolls but utterly creeped out by scarecrows. Your child will gravitate towards the stories that interest them most. If you’re finding that a certain theme is too scary for them, then it’s time to talk to your child about it and encourage them to read books that are less scary or about a different spook-tacular element. 

What are kids’ spooky books even about?

There are so many different themes in the kid spooky genre. One of the most common themes is paranormal activity - aka ghosts. Other common spooky elements also fall under the umbrella of fantasy with plenty of dolls, monsters, and evil witches to delight young readers. Most of the children’s books have a positive resolution where the protagonist figures out what message the ghost was trying to leave and helps the ghost move on, or defeats the evil witch. However, there are a few newer books that don’t tie everything together at the end with a nice bow. These are much rarer in the collection but may appeal to a number of kids.

Are these appropriate for my child?

You as the parent know your child best. Library staff are happy to help you figure out how scary a specific book is so that you can make an informed decision.

Ok. I think my kid would like some scary books. Where do I get started?

That’s awesome! Check out this book list for some of Miss Jessica’s spooky middle grade recommendations. If your kid likes graphic novels, make sure you check out that section too! We’re starting to see more spooky graphic novels being published. There’s really something for every kid! As always, feel free to speak to the Youth and Family Staff member at the library for some recommendations as well!