Anyone who enjoys Stephen King appreciates that deliciously uneasy feeling of a toe sticking out of the covers when who-knows-what is hidden under the bed.
All people deal with fear. Middle Grade Horror allows children to experience thrills and chills, find their brave inner hero, and go on a dangerous journey in a safe space. It’s an important lesson. Plus, it’s fun.
Below, you’ll see why I believe Horror is for Middle Grade and check out the book list for the young horror-reader in your family.
My own family stumbled into horror when one of my children struggled to find stories he liked. He labelled the books he read too predictable, too touchy feely, and too boring. All of that changed when a great librarian suggested he check out Middle Grade Horror. He started with The Vampire Plagues, by Sebastian Rook. This series, about three children who chase a vampire from 1850s London to Paris and on to Mexico, hooked him on reading, and I believe it can help other reluctant readers learn to enjoy books.
Liking this article about scary books? Check out this archived interview with scary book author and MUF contributor Jonathon Rosen
An Emotional Journey
Like all great stories, great Middle Grade Horror takes the reader on an emotional journey. Horror provokes terror, surprise, revulsion, empathy, love, and hatred. With all that excitement, probably everyone of us would enjoy some Horror. However, all of us have limits, and no child should be pushed beyond theirs. We want children who read Horror to be thrilled by it and not to suffer nightmares.
I highly recommend The Vampire Plagues, a fast-paced, action-packed, vampire-filled adventure. Below are more great Horror reads that range from Bunnicula, a story that is hardly scary at all to Katherine Arden’s truly creepy Small Spaces.
Middle Grade Horror Book List
Bunnicula is as silly as it is scary. This much beloved series features a mystery loving dog, an overly dramatic cat, and a vampire rabbit who sucks the life out of carrots.
The Graveyard Book, written by Neil Gaiman, author of the Halloween favorite Coraline, is an action and adventure story. It’s a great read for a child who enjoys action, suspense, and mysteries. It is a great read. It comes with lots of fun, friendly ghosts, and a few who are not-so-friendly.
For the daring, Victoria Schwab’s City of Ghosts leads the reader into increasingly unsettling territory. The ghosts in this book are monsters to be feared, and the heroine takes great risks in her endeavors.
Finally, Small Spaces by Katherine Arden is the ultimate spine-chilling adventure. The main character is a deeply flushed out, sympathetic child with tons of courage. She uses every ounce of her courage to face some truly terrifying creatures.
A lot of people, including children love horror stories. Being scared is fun. Middle grade horror provides a compelling read for some children who might be reluctant to dive into less edgy topics, and it presents an opportunity for kids to learn to deal with fear.
The Bunnicula series was always a favorite for my students and for my own kids. So very clever, and the horror factor was kept to a level that was appropriate for my second graders. Chester the cat is still my literary hero.:-)
I adore Chester, too. It’s a funny, heartwarming, scary series.
Some great suggests for horror fans. I read The Graveyard Book. I’ll have to check out the rest.
Neil Gaiman is such a great author. I love everything he’s written.
I’ve never been a horror reader so it’s the one area of MG fiction I avoid. I’m glad to see some recommendations I can pass along. Kids who come to the shop looking for a spooky book are seldom satisfied with something else. I also appreciate that each of these books has a spooky looking cover.
I’m glad you find the list useful.
I did enjoy The Vampire Plagues, but the prebound paperbacks were reduced to piles of paper flakes a few years ago. Ten years in a middle school library is a very long time. Horror books are certainly in great demand by tweens and teens! Thanks for the list.
I still have all three in our bookshelves. They are a fun trilogy.