Scary situations are part of life, and children need to learn how to deal with them. That is what scary stories for children do. Spooky children’s books are an excellent way to help them navigate and familiarize themselves with scary things in real life. They become more aware that these situations and being scared are okay and that they can cope.

Below are some well-balanced scary books for children that don’t take things too far.

A Little Ghost Was She, by Thomas E. Krygsheld (2021)

A Little Ghost Was She is a book that has spiritual meaning with Christian symbolism and Shamanism. It also helps children connect with nature again, and hoping to console those who experienced a loss of a child. The story is written poetically and is accompanied by beautiful illustrations.

The mysterious story talks about a little girl who showed up at a tea party in 2004 in a red dress. The strange thing is that she didn’t appear in the pictures taken on that day. The positions she stood and sat only showed a blank space on the pictures.

Several days passed, and everyone started asking who the little girl was. But nobody ever got to know who she was. Curiosity and buzz are the only things that ensued.

Hide and Don’t Seek, by Anica Mrose Rissi (2021)

Hide and Don’t Seek is a title that delivers when it comes to scary tales and is a good fit for children between eight and twelve. It is a contemporary collection of various short horror stories for kids.

They will elicit laughs, chills, and at times screams, even for those who are the most devoted to scary stories. But the brave ones will turn the pages.

Young readers will first find a hide-and-seek game story that goes on for way too long. There is a look-alike doll story, and the doll is right at home. Readers also read about a school talent show that shocked everyone in the audience, and a summer camp that took a significant turn.

Some of the stories in the book are updated kinds of scary stories, but others give a new feeling altogether. The unique part is that the stories are also told using different formats. There is poetry, prose, a play, letters, and even a text message thread. The characters are diverse, and that is evident through their names.

The Dare, by Cynthea Liu (2020)

The Dare tells the story of Paris Pan, who has just moved to a small town. Paris has a real shot at building new relationships and making new friends. However, fostering her friendship will also not be an easy task. It comes at a price.

Paris has to take The Dare, a ghostly mystery. The Dare is something that made another girl go missing on the same property Paris now lives in.

To make matters worse, Paris also has to play basketball, and this is not something she wants. She is also struggling with a family crisis that a chili dog probably brought about.

This book is humorous, suspenseful, and has everything you would look for in a story. It has a scary element, relationship complexities, and emotional matters. It addresses issues of empathy, friendship, bullying, and peer pressure.

It would be ideal for anyone looking for a spunky and diverse female character in a book or any child who has outgrown chapter books and wants a fascinating and fast-paced read. The book can be read at home or in a class setting and will help your child build character and integrity. 

Oh No! The Zombies Have Escaped!, by Laura Coleman (2018)

If your child is into zombies, they will love this book and insist on reading it repeatedly. The book is more of a puzzle that children need to solve. That’s how it creates imagination, attention, and focus. It is short and straightforward, and that way, children will get to the end fast and not get bored quickly.

It features fifteen zombies that children must find if they dare. They have to spot them on every page, and the zombie that is to be found is named with “find so and so” description states.

All these zombies have escaped, but they also could be anywhere. As a parent or teacher, help your little one spot Rottie, Fester, Reeking Rita, Vile Vinny but don’t forget about Corpsey and Rancid Rick. These zombies were at their graveyard, but then they were not.

Mostly, they lurk around shops, a party, and on a farm. But there are other places to find them too.

No Such Thing, by Ella Bailey (2022)

For those who enjoy scary bedtime stories with their children or those who love going on a Hallowe’en adventure, No Such Thing makes an excellent read. It would make a perfect addition and a great Hallowe’en gift.

The story is spooky with just the right amount of scary for children. It is also playful and slightly sarcastic in a way that children will love.

Bailey tells the story using a sweet retro feel and uses charming characters, beautiful pictures, and illustrations. Every page has delightful visual flourishes and bold artwork that convey the protagonist's increasing insistence that everything must have a rational explanation.

Georgia noticed something unusual one day in October. Objects were moving around their house, but there were times they even got out of sight. Many people wondered and questioned if that could have been the doing of something spooky during that time. That was mainly because of the timing of these events. But clever Georgia didn’t think the same as everyone. She seemed to have all the explanations and didn’t fear anything. That’s when she set out to debunk this mischief.

Allow your little one to join Georgia on this adventure and get captivated by the events while being charged with imagination.

Creepy Pair of Underwear, by Aaron Reynolds (2017)

Creepy Pair of Underwear is hilarious with just the right dose of creepy for little ones. The story is about a brave rabbit and a strange pair of underwear.

The story’s main character is Jasper Rabbit, who has already grown out of being a little bunny. Jasper is not afraid of the dark, and he indeed couldn’t fear something as inconsequential and silly as underwear.

Since he needs new underwear, he goes shopping with his mother. He bypasses the boring white pairs and gets neon green ones. They are peculiar and comfortable. It doesn’t matter that they look like Frankenstein’s mother.

Later that night, Jasper’s large and new underwear begins to glow in the dark when the lights go out, giving a greenish and ghoulish glow. He would say that his underwear is creepy if he didn't know better. Obviously, he is not scared.

He will try to get rid of the underwear by burying them in a deep hole, but more green undies will still appear.

The Super Tiny Ghost, by Marilee Joy Mayfield (2019)

The Super Tiny Ghost is a ghost story with a unique touch. Even with the bit of spook it may give your child, it will teach them that insecurities don’t make anyone less important. The book will capture a child’s imagination with its fun illustrations. Its background is nighttime evident on the pages, and it also features fonts with changing colors.

In the book is a tiny ghost with a big dream of becoming the scariest being on Hallowe’en. But on that day, he doesn’t make anybody scream or cry. That’s when he makes up his mind that there is still another way to be the scariest ghoul in his town.

However, he will learn an important lesson at the end about being true to himself, being kind, and feeling complete and content. He also learns that frightening everyone to tears is not always fun.

Coraline, by Neil Geiman (2012)

Coraline is a creepy modern ghost story told playfully and funnily. It steers tension, but it is thrilling and inventive. The message passed is about solving individual problems using what you have got and that sometimes free things have a catch. The book also explores a theme that you may encounter flawed instances, but it is not always safe jumping at every new situation or opportunity.

Coraline discovers a particular door after they move into a new house. She steps through this door but finds another house on the opposite side. It is similar to their house, but it looks even better, and everything there seems marvelous.

This other house has a mother and father, and they both want Coraline to stay and become their little girl. Their wish is to change Coraline, stay with her, and never let her go.

The only thing that can save Coraline is her courage and wit. She will have to use these qualities to fight and return to her everyday life.


The scary books on this list are must-reads for children with valuable practical life lessons. Children will enjoy them even with their spooky touch.​

If you are looking for more children's books, check out our favorite books for kids.