All Hallow's Read

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Author Neil Gaiman has a deliciously terrifying recommendation for a new family tradition this Halloween!

All Hallow's Read! The idea is simple.  This Halloween give someone a scary book to read.  While collecting as much candy as humanly possible is very important - especially to kids - sharing a love of reading is even more important.


Not sure where to start when it comes to picking scary books for children and teens? Here's a list of recommended titles from Booklist magazine's Gillian Engberg.

Top 10 Horror Books for Youths

by Lauren Myracle, (2008). 
Gr. 9–12.
Adjusting to a new school, Bliss befriends Sandy—a gruff, troubled girl who may be related to the creepy voices calling from an abandoned building. Myracle’s novel boasts the creepiest sleepover scene of all time.

The Enemy
by Charlie Higson, (2010).
Gr. 9–12.
Eighteen months after a virus turned everyone over 16 into ravenous cannibals, teen refugees make a trek across London. This straightforward zombie apocalypse thriller plays out with smarts and gusto.

Goth: A Novel of Horror
by Otsuichi, (2008).
Gr. 9–12.
This gory, nihilistic shocker is irredeemably brutal, a quality that will endear it to certain horror fans. Six interconnected stories follow two impassive Japanese teens as they work their way into the twisted lives of various pyschopaths.

Half-Minute Horrors
by M. T. Anderson, Jerry Spinelli, and others. Ed. by Susan Rich. Illus. by Lisa Brown, (2009).
Gr. 5–8.
A volume of one- and two-page stories from more than 70 authors sounds like a stunt, but these are exemplars of narrative economy and gut-punch endings, and together, they read like the worst 10 weeks of nightmares you’ll ever have.

by Bekka Black, (2010). 
Gr. 7–10.
The gimmick—Bram Stoker’s tale retold entirely via smart phones, text messages, PDFs, etc.—results in a surprisingly upsetting one-shock-per-page pulse. And all those auto-rejected e-mails from Dracula’s lair? Shudder.

The Monstrumologist
by Rick Yancey, (2009).
Gr. 9–12.
This Printz Honor–winning gothic novel has it all: monsters, corpses, catacombs, and exemplary writing. The sequel, The Curse of the Wendigo (2010), is nearly as fine.

The Replacement
by Brenna Yovanoff, (2010).
Gr. 9–12.
Two menageries of monsters battle over a blood sacrifice in this Bradburian horror fantasy. It shaves dangerously close to paranormal romance, but Yovanoff’s world is singularly unsettling.

Rot & Ruin
by Jonathan Maberry, (2010).
Gr. 9–12.
Fourteen years after zombies took over the world, slacker Benny gets a job with his bounty hunter brother taking out “zoms.” Infused with sadness, this is the sensitive reader’s zombie novel.

by Daniel Kraus, (2011).
Gr. 9–12.
Joey’s estranged father turns out to be a master grave robber, and the teen’s induction into that underworld society is scored by madness and mayhem. By turns shocking and tender, this is a searing, ambitious epic from the author of The Monster Variations (2009).

White Crow
by Marcus Sedgwick, (2011).
Gr. 8–12.
Balancing two plots 200 years apart, Sedgwick spins a genuinely chilling yarn of a visionary doctor obsessed with the secrets of life and, a century later, two girls who uncover the appalling evidence of his investigations.


And of course, no list of suspenseful books for children would be complete without a tip of the hat to Neil Gaiman's own The Graveyard Book or Coraline

Your local librarian can provide more recommendations for a variety of age groups.

For ideas on how you can spend quality time with your children and teens, check out the Reading Together section of the Connect with your kids @ your library Family Activity Guide.


"Top 10 Horror Stories for Youth,"  by Gillian Engberg, was originally featured August 2011 in Booklist.


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