scary kids books ebooks halloweenBy: Tiffany Wincek, Account Specialist.

Team OverDrive barely made it through September before we started plotting Halloween costumes, planning scary movie marathons, and placing holds on our favorite spooky tales. We love autumn and everything that comes with it. When the leaves start scuttling down the streets, it’s time to dig into suspenseful thrillers and ghastly tales. Halloween is the season’s crown jewel, and for some of us, the love for this holiday stems all the way back to our school days. We asked the team to share their best memories of reading haunted tales in school, and the answers may surprise you!

Scary J/YA picks from Team OverDrive

“One of the creepiest books I remember reading in high school was Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. It’s about a mysterious traveling carnival that comes to a Midwestern town shortly before Halloween, bringing with it mystery and horror. It’s a supernatural tale of good versus evil and has a very eerie atmosphere, which is perfect for causing a scare during the Halloween season. It stuck with me because it was genuinely creepy but also a great work of literature filled with descriptive imagery. When I read this in high school, my English teacher also showed us an episode of The X Files that explored a mysterious freakshow to accompany our reading, and it paired wonderfully with Bradbury’s novel.”

~Katie Blachman, Account Specialist

“One of the spookiest books I read as a kid was The Ghost of Fossil Glen by Cynthia DeFelice. I loved that the main character was a young girl who solves a murder primarily while investigating alone. Allie finds a journal that the ghost of a murdered girl communicates through in order for Allie to solve who killed her and find the girl’s body. In the search, Allie is faced with the same danger and nearly the same outcome as the ghost girl she is trying to help. I read it when I was 9 or 10 years old and I remember not being able to put it down. I think both girls and boys alike would enjoy this thrilling story.”

~Shannon Carroll, Account Specialist

“I remember the Boo Radley scenes and anticipation from To Kill a Mockingbird. There was so much build up and suspense, and Scout doesn’t see Boo until Chapter 30. The rest of the time, he’s this ghostly, nebulous presence and both the characters and readers doubts themselves. That he turns out to be a benevolent character is both a relief and marker of childhood: just because we can’t see or understand something doesn’t make it necessarily scary.”

~Patti Carlyle, Public Relations Specialist

“When I think of ghost stories from school, I think of Turn of the Screw by Henry James. Of all the books I read in high school, Jane Eyre was my favorite, and think that’s exactly why I was drawn to The Turn of the Screw. Henry James subtly evokes Jane Eyre by way of eerie and mysterious scenery, a romantic governess, and hints of insanity. However, Turn of the Screw is not a romance, and at the story’s end, you are left with more questions than answers.”

~Briana Johnson-Sims, Training Specialist

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

“Reading this classic started my love affair with old, creepy, haunted houses and the enthralling spirits and stories that lie within.”

~Rachel Kray, Collection Development Analyst

“I remember being freaked out by The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney. Janie Johnson is a normal high school student who realizes her childhood picture is on the side of a milk carton, labeled as a missing child. She has to piece together what happened – Are her parents really her parents? Was she kidnapped? Has her whole life been a lie? I could not put this series down when I first read it and it thoroughly creeped me out as a kid.”

~Melissa Marin, Marketing Specialist

“I used The Little Old Lady Who was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams and Cecelia DeWolf for a story telling program with a room of elementary school students when I was getting my MLS. It was the perfect book for telling with a felt board and I adored the forest setting and the progressive objects that join the tale. When I went to present it to an auditorium of older children though, I thought they’d all start yawning and wishing I’d get off the stage. To my surprise they all knew the story and already loved it! They yelled the words out with me at the right cues and were smiling the whole way. What was nearly a very scary situation for me turned into a delightful spooky tale I hold dearly.”

~Kristin Milks, Collection Development Analyst

“The one that keeps coming to mind is “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allen Poe. Most of Poe’s works left me a little unsettled, but this one kept me up at night. It has all the key aspects of a gothic classic—haunting landscapes, ambiguous characters, and dreamy prose. I remember pouring over the text, knowing deep in my bones not all was well in the Usher homestead. When the end came, slowly at first and then all of a sudden, I actually screamed. To this day, I can’t look at dilapidated homes without wondering what lies beneath.”

~Christina Samek, Marketing Specialist

“I didn’t read many scary stories when I was younger, but the two that stick out most in my mind are Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Even among these two classic horror stories, Frankenstein stands out more. Whether due to Mary’s storytelling, being considered the first true science fiction story (a favorite genre of mine today), the novel’s background, or my love of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, Frankenstein is the novel to read every Halloween. Not only do we see the horror of a ‘monster,’ but we see the horror of man – which can be more terrifying than any monster under our bed.”

~Andrea Sieracki, Account Specialist

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

“This book takes the one thing about your childhood that is supposed to be 100% safe (your parents) and replaces them with impostors. As a child, imagining a world where the safety net of your parents isn’t there and instead you’re responsible for saving them is haunting. To this day I still hate the words ‘Other Mother.’”

~Adam Sockel, Social Media Specialist


Staff picks: Halloween J/YA eBooks on OverDrive

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
The Ghost of Fossil Glen by Cynthia DeFelice
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Turn of the Screw by Henry James
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney
The Little Old Lady Who was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams and Cecelia DeWolf
The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Coraline by Neil Gaiman