By the time kids hit middle school, they want to be scared – in a controlled way, of course. That is why the horror book and movie industries do so well with the teen crowd.
The wish to get the heart racing is trickling down to middle grade readers as many will remember the Goosebumps books. Now there is much more out there for those who like to be frightened.
- Ghosts of Fear Street (series) by R.L. Stein – Mr. Stein still has the Goosebumps books out there, but he has now a series targeting kids ages 8-12. These books have a twelve year old having some paranormal adventure on Fear Street. So if you like ghosts and monsters, this series is for you.
- Goosebumps (series) by R.L. Stein – This series is classified as horror or thriller, and Mr. Stein says there is some humor in these (it’s been a while since I’ve read these). The protagonist can be a boy or a girl.
- Doll Bones by Holly Black – Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been playing a make-believe game that involves action figures, dolls, and their imaginations for years. As they head into their teen years, Zach is feeling the pressure to give up the game. But the game is just getting interesting thanks to the Great Queen – a bone china doll that Poppy’s mom keeps locked in a glass cabinet. When Poppy, the storyteller, says she is having dreams involving the Queen and a dead girl, the three take off on adventure like their make-believe. Story is eerie scary, not threatening scary (one incident involving a homeless man is menacing), but most of the chills come from not being sure which is real and which is the product of the imagination.
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – Bod Owens lives in a graveyard. He has lived there since he toddled into the place after his family had been murdered, and his mother’s ghost asked the ghosts of that graveyard to protect him. They agreed after some debate, but the catch is the only way to protect him is to keep him in the graveyard. He learns some unique lessons, but will they be able to protect him from the man who killed his family and still searches for him?
- The Witches by Roald Dahl – It’s been a while since I’ve read this one, but when I did it as a read aloud, my children were frightened. It is a story about real witches, not the ones from fairy tales and a boy who lives with his grandmother must find out how to determine witches from people to keep himself safe.