19 Best Scary Books For Kids And Teens That They'll Love

Our list of scary books for your kids and teens is sure to have them fearing turning the page.
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A scary book can be a wonderful gift for any child, as ghost books for kids can do much more than just give them a fright.

Though it might seem counter-intuitive, scary books for kids can give highly positive experiences. Many parents wish to protect their children from scary situations, but by experiencing fear in the safe environment of a book kids will be better equipped to cope with scariness in real life.

The imaginary world of a ghost story or horror tale encourages creativity, offering parallel universes, witches and wizards, ghosts and demons, psychological thrillers and more for adventurous and inventive playtime.

There's also often a deeper, positive theme running through scary children's books, such as honesty, friendship or humility. Many books even give notorious baddies a lovable side. When children follow a character through a haunted world, it helps them develop resilience and confidence, as kids get a sense of accomplishment through having survived each scary chapter of the story themselves. Some books, especially those written for younger children, can also help deal with a child's own fears, such as monsters under the bed.

With hundreds of scary books for teens, horror books for kids and dark magic books for tweens available, finding a gripping read for the right age group can seem like a monster task. We've put together a list of our top scary books for under 5s, under 10s, tweens, young teens and older teens to give you a simple place to start.

If you're looking for more witch and wizard-themed items, take a look at these books about witches or these Harry Potter gifts from the wizarding world.

Kidadl's Top Pick

1. Funnybones by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Funnybones by Janet and Allan Ahlberg.

In the dark dark house... some skeletons lived. Starting with books for the youngest readers, 'Funnybones' is a timeless original that is great for children just learning to read, from the creators of picture books like 'Each Peach Pear Plum', 'The Jolly Postman' and 'Burglar Bill'. Also a hit TV series, with fantastic illustrations and adventures, this is a book for those who like their skeletons more funny than scary.

Main Features

  • Price: £6.99
  • Glow-in-the-dark cover celebrating Funnybones' 40th Anniversary
  • Suitable for under 5s


Best For Under 5s Cuddles

2. My Monster Mama Loves Me So by Laura Leuck and Mark Buehner

My Monster Mama Loves Me So by Laura Leuck and Mark Buehner.

A children's Halloween classic, this beautiful book is filled with a monster family's daily adventures and activities. You'll have hairy hugs aplenty as you learn all the ways a mama monster loves her little monster.

Main Features

  • Price: £4.99
  • Paperback
  • Suitable for under 5s


Best For Under 5s Pop-Up Books

3. I'm Going to Eat You!: A Spooky Pop-Up Flap Book by Matt Mitter and Jimmy Pickering

 I'm Going to Eat You!: A Spooky Pop-Up Flap Book by Matt Mitter and Jimmy Pickering.

When a young boy is woken by a scary voice, he goes on a monster-filled adventure to find out who wants to eat him. Perfect for de-scaring monsters under the bed.

Main Features

  • Price: £9.38
  • Board book with large pop-up flaps
  • Suitable for ages 4-6


Best For Under 5s With A Dark Sense Of Humour

4. Not Now, Bernard by David McKee

Not Now, Bernard by David McKee.

When Bernard discovers a monster in the back garden, it's too bad for his parents that they're not paying him attention. A great book for children and parents alike.

Main Features

  • Price: £6.99
  • 40th Anniversary edition
  • Paperback

Best For Under 10s Cult Fiction

5. Goosebumps Series by R. L. Stine

Goosebumps Series by R. L. Stine.

A substantial supernatural series with individual chilling plots and terrifying twists, the 62 Goosebumps books were the basis for the hit '90s TV show. There are no happy ever afters with Goosebumps.

Main Features

  • Price: £5.99
  • Suitable for 8-10 years

Best For Under 10s Graphic Novels

6. The Stonekeeper - Amulet 1 by Kazu Kibuishi

The Stonekeeper - Amulet 1 by Kazu Kibuishi.

A unique graphic novel for kids who love adventure stories, Emily and her brother Navin face a terrible, life-or-death mission after moving to a creepy old house. Great danger hides in the darkness, and a magical world filled with terror lies ahead.

Main Features

  • Price: £8.99
  • Series of eight books - ninth and final book due in 2021
  • Trigger warnings of car accident and death of loved ones

Best Under 10s Short Stories

7. In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz and Dirk Zimmer

In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz and Dirk Zimmer.

In a re-illustrated edition, this chilling collection is loved by middle school kids and adults alike, featuring the infamous 'The Green Ribbon' and six other terrifying tales.

Main Features

  • Price: £3.99
  • 'I Can Read!' Level 2
  • Paperback

Best For Tween Collections

8. How to Navigate Zombie Cave and Defeat Pirate Pete by Mick Bogerman

How to Navigate Zombie Cave and Defeat Pirate Pete by Mick Bogerman.

In the first of The Slug Pie Stories collection (which also includes How to Rid Your Swimming Pool of a Bloodthirsty Mermaid, How to Destroy the New Girl's Killer Robot Army, and How to Protect Your Neighborhood from Circus Werewolves), Bogerman puts terrifying twists on a number of normal situations.

Main Features

  • Price: £4.10
  • Paperback
  • Suitable for 9-13 years

Best For Tween Horror

9. The Curse of the Canowicakte: A Horror Story for Young Readers and the Young at Heart: Volume 1 by Wade H. Garrett

The Curse of the Canowicakte: A Horror Story for Young Readers and the Young at Heart: Volume 1 by Wade H. Garrett.

Bullies and burial grounds collide in a small America town. This is humorous, child-appropriate horror from a writer known for extreme adult horror fiction.

Main Features

  • Price: £7.37
  • Paperback
  • Suitable for 9+

Best For Tween Dark Magic

10. Coraline by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean

Coraline by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean.

When Coraline and her family move into a creepy house, a mysterious door leads to unwanted consequences. A chilling story where the grass is not always greener on the other side, this book is also a major stop-motion animated film.

Main Features

  • Price: £6.99
  • Paperback

Best For Tween Classic

11. The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, illustrated by Andrea Dezsö, and translated by Jack Zipes

The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, illustrated by Andrea Dezsö, and translated by Jack Zipes.

The complete, first-edition collection of all eight volumes of Grimm Brothers' tales, featuring 156 diverse stories with all the scary bits left in.

Main Features

  • Price: £16.99
  • Paperback

Best For Young Teen Fantasy

12. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.

Between the bright lights of a carousel, a terrible evil lurks in the darkness. With stunning visual language, this book is a story about friendship and fatherhood.

Main Features

  • Price: £8.99
  • Paperback

Best For Young Teen Haunted House Stories

13. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

When four people come to stay at Hill House, they quickly learn that their presence may not be welcome. One of the most terrifying children's ghost stories that leaves readers guessing into the night, this book has recently become a major Netflix series.

Main Features

  • Price: £8.99
  • Paperback

Best For Young Teen Gothic Romance

14. House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A Craig

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A Craig.

Published in 2019, 'House of Salt and Sorrows' is based on Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Twelve Dancing Princesses'. Mysteries and curses abound in this tale of sisters living and deceased.

Main Features

  • Price: £8.99
  • Paperback

Best For Young Teen Surprise Collector

15. Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories

Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories.

Roald Dahl read 749 spooky stories kept in the British Museum before choosing his favourites for this spine-chilling anthology, including Cynthia Asquith's 'The Corner Shop', Sheridan Le Fanu's 'The Ghost of a Hand', Mary Treadgold's 'The Telephone' and Edith Wharton's 'Afterward', with ten more scary stories.

Main Features

  • Price: £8.99
  • Paperback

Best For Older Teen Mystery

16. Watchers by Dean Koontz

Watchers by Dean Koontz.

Generally hailed as Koontz's best book, mysterious evil awaits one man and his oddly intelligent dog.

Main Features

  • Price: £8.99
  • Paperback

Best For Older Teen High School Thrillers

17. One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus.

Bayview High is riddled with secrets that help no one when five students get detention, and only four walk out alive.

Main Features

  • Price: £7.99
  • Paperback

Best For Older Teen Classics

18.  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

A special edition with a gorgeously gory cover, Shelley's classic story is a tale of questionable medicine, the unknown, and the monster inside.

Main Features

  • Price: £12.99
  • A Puffin Clothbound Classic
  • Hardback

Best For Older Teen Fairy-Tales

19. Tinder by Sally Gardner and David Roberts

Tinder by Sally Gardner and David Roberts.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Tinderbox', 'Tinder' plays with war, love, beasts and magic. This richly illustrated book draws you into a nightmarish world where a light in the dark is a gift and a curse.

Main Features

  • Price: £7.99
  • Some themes 16+ or adult approval needed
  • Paperback


Kidadl Best Buys selects the top parent-recommended products across the web for families of all ages. If you've got kids who love to read, check out our selection of the best books about birds and learning coding for children.

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