Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Scary Stories

Two Spooky Stories for Spring

While many of us associate scary stories with October and cool weather, I think it’s great fun to read scary stories in the spring, especially when there’s a thunderstorm rolling in.

I’d like to recommend two scary books I enjoyed recently, and both of them just happened to be written by Asian American authors.

First is The Girl and the Ghost by Hana Alkaf. This ghost story is inspired by Malaysian folklore. I love folk and fairy tales, so I was excited about a story inspired by Malaysian folk traditions.

When Suraya is very young, a type of ghost called a pelesit comes to her, and says he is a gift from her grandmother. Suraya, who is very lonely, just sees him as a friend. But as she gets older, their relationship begins to change, and other ghosts from her past begin to emerge.

I loved this book. It’s very scary! It is also a beautiful story about family and friendship. I read it all in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down! After you read the book, I recommend reading this interview with Hana Alkaf to learn more about her and the book!

The Girl and the Ghost book cover

The second book is Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh. In this book, Harper Raine is struggling after her family moves to a new house in a new town, especially since an accident she had at her old school was the reason she had to move. In her new house, strange things start happening, especially with her little brother, who seems to be talking to someone that no one else can see.

Like The Girl and the Ghost, Spirit Hunters is scary while also being a great story about family secrets and the strength of friendship.

Spirit Hunters book cover

The official book trailer is also really cool!

Place a hold on these books and check out other spooky stories for kids today!

Olive and the Backstage Ghost by Michelle Schusterman      

Olive and the Backstage Ghost by Michelle Schusterman

After an unsuccessful audition, Olive runs into an old vaudeville theatre to escape the New York rain. In the comfort of the empty auditorium, Olive sings her heart out and receives the attention of the mysterious Maude Devore. Olive is immediately offered a part in Maude’s variety show, and she is impressed by the theatre and her new costars. She loves this new “family” especially since her mother has been strict with her. But…why does the food taste strange? And how can her fellow performers demonstrate such death-defying feats without getting hurt? Read this haunting tale to uncover the answers to these questions and more.

This book is also available in e-audio through Libby/Overdrive.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

E-Book & E-Audiobook – Spirit Hunters  by Ellen Oh

Spirit Hunters on HooplaSeventh grader Harper Raine knows something is wrong with the old fixer-upper house that her family now calls home. Different rooms are hot or cold, and her brother has started talking to someone only he can see.  After befriending a a neighbor and learning more about the history of her house, Harper realizes she must do something fast or else her family may be in trouble. But what can she do if her own parents don’t believe her? She knows she must first uncover the important mysteries in her own past, but can she do it in time?  

This book is also available as an ebook in Overdrive’s Digital Library. It is also available as an ebook and e-audiobook on Hoopla.   

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant 

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

Small Spaces Book Cover“Avoid large places at night—keep to small.”

This is the warning that 11 year old Olivia “Ollie” Adler gets from a distraught woman trying desperately to throw a book in the river. Ollie, a lover of books, steals it from the woman, and finds the story within is one she can’t put down. It is the story of two brothers, the girl they love, and a bargain they’ve made with a sinister figure known only as “the smiling man.” Ollie dismisses it as a made up ghost story, until a field trip to Misty Valley Farm—the location of the story—ends in a broken down bus and a warning on her previously broken digital watch to “RUN.” Can Ollie help save her classmates from the horrors lurking in the woods? Maybe—if she remembers to stick to small spaces until sunrise. For fans of Mary Downing Hahn and Goosebumps, Small Spaces by Katherine Arden is a must-read.

Book reviewed by Julie J., Assistant Head of Youth Services

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier 

Cover image for The Night gardener : a scary storyIf you enjoy hearing spooky tales told ‘round the campfire, look no further than the audiobook version of The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier. Listen to the tale of Irish orphans Molly and Kip as they travel to a rural English village to begin working and living inside a quirky family’s old mansion. In the dead of night, they hear heavy footsteps walking throughout the house. Who or what is walking through the house? And how are those footprints connected to the family’s weird behavior and to the old tree just outside the window?This Victorian ghost story, brought to life by the incredible voice talents of narrator Beverly Crick, will keep you riveted.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant