By Sarah Danielson, for The Children’s Book Review
Published: September 23, 2010
Halloween is a holiday that offers kids not only the goodies, but the deliciousness of thrills and chills as well. Since long before the modern-day tradition of letting your mom dress you up to invade the local neighborhoods in search of treats, tales of ghosts, specters, and creatures inhabiting dimensions of the macabre have drawn children like the proverbial Pied Piper (with a little Freddie Kruger thrown in). Almost everyone can recall the guilty pleasures of ghost stories in the dark, be it around campfires, at sleepovers, or from the sheer horror of that terrifying book that you’re reading when you’re alone in the house (which you simply cannot put down).
Make these authors part of your child’s Halloween and you combine the fun of trick- or-treating with a good book to enhance the spooky factor to the max!
1. Mary Downing Hahn. In “Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story”, Michael and Molly have to move to a new home which was once an old church, complete with a nearby graveyard. Michael and Molly not only resent the move, but detest living with their rude and nasty stepsister Heather as well. Soon Heather becomes inexplicably obsessed with one tombstone, befriending a ghost named Helen. The plot thickens with classic bone-chillers such as a forest with mysterious ruins, a creepy pond, and hazy faces at the windows.
2. Alvin Schwartz. “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” includes two dozen scary stories plus songs and wonderfully creepy illustrations by Stephen Gammell, all certain to delight the lover of the written horror genre. They are filled with plenty of flesh-torn skeletons, vengeful ghosts in search of their murderers, and a variety of tales taken from urban legends and American folklore. Guaranteed to make you shiver as well as laugh uneasily as you look over your shoulder.
3. Ray Bradbury. In his classic “Something Wicked This Way Comes”, Bradbury, a master gothic storyteller, pens a story of two young boys, James Nightshade and William Halloway, whose lives are changed forever by the arrival of a carnival that slithers into their small town one fateful autumn. The evil and insidious ringmaster, Mr. Dark, appears with the ability to grant their every wish for the unspoken price of one’s soul. As the sweet daydream of a carnival relentlessly spirals into the town’s nightmare, the boys are faced with the dilemma of saving themselves and their loved ones. Enthralling and compelling.
4. Chris Eboch. “The Ghost on the Stairs” spins a ghostly yarn about thirteen-year-old Jon and his eleven-year-old sister Tania, whose parents are producing a ghost hunter television show at an ancient hotel in Colorado. What their parents don’t realize is that Tania has a supernatural gift: she can communicate with the dead. A spectral bride wandering the hallways of the hotel in search of her lost husband complicates the fast-paced suspense.
5. James Howe. If you’re looking for a great book to introduce sci-fi and horror to young children, “It Came From Beneath the Bed!” from James Howe’s “Bunnicula” series is the way to go. Elements of spookiness are mixed with cute characters in this narrative as told by the dachshund pup Howie. This well-loved author is adept at entertaining the younger set as well as their parents.
Sarah Danielson writes for a website that specializes in audiobooks where you can find audio book reviews and read the latest industry news.
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