I absolutely love the fall season, and where I live, the trees are changing colors and the air is crisp and cool. I recently visited my favorite apple orchard and winery and it was such a sweet and simple pleasure! I am also one of those adults who likes to still dress up in a costume, and this year, I’m going to be a fairy at the library Halloween party. I was never one for ugly costumes. I am also going to attempt reading two ‘scary’ classics, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (which is one of my all-time favorite books) and Dracula by Bram Stoker, which I’ve never read. If I’m feeling ambitious, I may try Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde whose premise has always scared me. What are your favorite autumn or Halloween traditions or tales?
In my scariest witch cackle, I bring you a booklist of scary, thrilling and spoooooky novels to enjoy for the Halloween season. I named this post after one of my favorite Halloween picture books for younger kids, appropriately called, Spooky Spooky Spooky! by Cathy MacLennan. The simple rhyming story of velvety bats, howling cats and slithery slugs brings laughter and smiles every time I read this to a child. Perhaps try discovering your childlike nature and take a few minutes at the bookstore or library to read a Halloween picture book. I find many are creative stories that will bring the wonder of the changing autumn season back to your eyes. You could even try an R.L. Stine Goosebumps or Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz. These will definitely have you remembering how much fun it was to tell a spooky story at a sleepover or while driving in the car at night, without losing sleep because you are so ‘freaked out’. I also discovered this website called “Scary for Kids” which has scary stories, videos, games, music and much more, and I found the site to be entertaining without being gruesome or too adult.
For those who are looking for a truly creepy novel to get you in the mood for Halloween, then try one of these. Some are recommendations from friends thanks to another informal poll. Others are simply books that I, as a librarian, would suggest to someone interested in a creepy read. I would love to hear your favorite scary stories and tales in the comments below!
Tailypo; Now here is a folktale I have never heard about and one that would scare anyone! This version is retold by Jan Wahl and illustrated by Wil Clay. I was researching the history of this tale, and it appears to originate as an African-American story typically told in the Appalachias. No one ever knows what the Tailypo is, but this large animal haunts the man who tried to hunt him. If this folktale isn’t for you, check out American Folklore online, it’s a huge resource for all kinds of scary stories.
The Shining by Stephen King; I think we can all agree that Stephen King is the master of thrills and chills. The Shining is undoubtedly one of his best. This is the story of Jack Torrence as he starts his new job in the Overlook Hotel, looking for a fresh start in his life. Winter begins to set in, and so does the horror. Other popular tales from Stephen King are Carrie, Misery, It, and Pet Cemetery. Check out Stephen King’s website where you can get to know him as a writer and learn more about his books.
Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris; This classic is the story of FBI agent Clarice Starling as she interviews the twisted mind of Dr. Hannibal Lector, a former psychiatrist who delves deep into the corners of Starling’s mind. This is a series, and some say the sequels are not as good as this first one. This book was also made into a blockbuster movie.
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski; According to Library Journal’s review, this is the story of a man named Johnny Truant who comes into possession of a strange manuscript which gains possession of his very soul. The manuscript is a complex commentary on a documentary film (The Navidson Record) about a house that defies all the laws of physics. It is described as a horror novel, but also characterized as a psychological thriller, a quest, a literary hoax, a dark comedy, and a work of cultural criticism.
Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep by Jack Prelutsky; Those of us who know Prelutsky know his poetry for being funny and witty. His Nightmares poetry is perfect for sharing with older kids or reading alone as an adult, offering just enough “spooky” to delight on a Halloween night. It also includes illustrations from Caldecott winning artist Arnold Lobel, so it’s a treat for your eyes too.
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice; While most everyone now associates vampires with the Twilight series, Anne Rice was the original master. Some of you may have seen this movie adaptation with Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. Now you need to read the book about the makings of a good-old-fashioned vampire, as he tells his story to a young reporter. The Washington Post called the book, thrilling, original, sometimes horrible, sometimes beautiful and always unforgettable.
The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman; Now a television series, the story started as a graphic novel! In just a few short months, the world has reached the apocalypse and zombies have taken over. The main character is Rick Grimes who befriends a group of survivors as they try to find their loved ones, and essentially figure out what to do in their new atmosphere. If you haven’t read graphic novels before, give this one a try. The artwork is muted colors, along with blacks and whites, giving it a more eerie feeling as you read.