The scariest books for kids who love Goosebumps

Why am I passionate about this?

I love scary books for kids, and scary mysteries in particular. I’m a strong advocate for literacy and reaching reluctant readers, and the author of the multi-award-nominated middle-grade mystery Daybreak on Raven Island and Midnight at the Barclay Hotel, among others. The recent resurgence of horror has brought a fresh new bunch of scary stories for kids. And I love reading these books, even though I’m well out of the target age range. These new scary books for kids blend genres, tackle difficult issues, and show kids that even in the darkest, smallest hour of the night, you can solve the problem at hand and come out on the other side—better, stronger, smarter.


I wrote...

Daybreak on Raven Island

By Fleur Bradley,

Book cover of Daybreak on Raven Island

What is my book about?

Tori, Marvin, and Noah would rather be anywhere else than on the seventh-grade class field trip to Raven Island prison. Tori would rather be on the soccer field, but her bad grades have benched her; Marvin would rather be at the first day of a film festival with his best friend, Kevin; and Noah isn't looking forward to having to make small talk with his classmates at this new school.

But when the three of them stumble upon a dead body in the woods, miss the last ferry back home, and have to spend the night on Raven Island, they find that they need each other now more than ever. They must work together to uncover a killer, outrun a motley ghost-hunting crew, and expose the age-old secrets of the island.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of It Found Us

Fleur Bradley Why did I love this book?

Whenever someone asks me to recommend a scary book for kids, I instantly think of Lindsay Currie’s books. This author knows just how to write a scary story for kids without making it gory.

In It Found Us, twelve-year-old Hazel loves a good mystery, so when she hears that her brother Den plans to go to the cemetery for a game of hide and seek, she tags along. Only the game ends with her brother’s friend Everett missing, and now Den and Hazel try to find him before it’s too late… I loved Hazel, the girl detective in the book, whose sleuthing takes her to a Chicago cemetery, and exploring history.

Think Scooby Doo meets Goosebumps—your kid will love this scary mystery and will want to check out all of Lindsay Currie’s books.

By Lindsay Currie,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked It Found Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

From the author of Scritch Scratch and The Girl in White comes a new spooky mystery about a girl detective who must decode a series of ominous clues tied to a century-old tragedy to find a missing teenager before it's too late…

Twelve-year-old Hazel Woods has always had an unusual knack for sleuthing. Some may call it snooping, but all she really wants is to solve mysteries around town. So, when she not-so-accidentally overhears her brother Den planning to sneak into the cemetery at night for an epic game of hide-and-seek, she decides to secretly tag along. This seems like…


Book cover of More Tales to Keep You Up at Night

Fleur Bradley Why did I love this book?

I love a good short story, especially when it’s written for kids.

In More Tales to Keep You Up at Night, main character Gilbert finds audio tapes after his brother is injured in a mysterious accident, and starts to listen to them. Gilbert soon figures out that the stories are connected to his family, and that he’ll have to listen to all of them to save his brother…

Perfect for readers of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. And as you probably can tell from the title, there is a first book by the same author. Dan Poblocki is one of those authors who just know how to tell a scary story for the middle-grade audience.

By Dan Poblocki, Marie Bergeron (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked More Tales to Keep You Up at Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

From the co-author of the #1 New York Times bestselling series The Magic Misfits comes a spectacularly creepy follow-up to Tales to Keep You Up at Night that will keep you up way past bedtime.

Perfect for fans of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark!

Gilbert is visiting his injured brother, Ant, in the hospital, when he sees a shadowed figure leave behind a satchel filled with old cassette tapes. Despite a strange, garbled voicemail telling him "Don't listen to the tapes," Gilbert can't resist playing them and listening to the chilling stories they reveal: tales of cursed seashells,…


Book cover of Spirit Week

Fleur Bradley Why did I love this book?

Graphic novels are seeing a real boom, and Ira Marcks’ Spirit Week is the perfect scary graphic novel middle-grade for visual readers.

Inspired by The Shining (you know, that Stephen King book made into a horror movie with Jack Nicholson), this graphic novel manages to weave horror and cinematic elements to make for a great nod to the horror genre.

Our main kid character Suzy is an aspiring engineer, and she’s at the Underlook Hotel to tutor a famous filmmaker’s son named Danny. But the kids are quickly sucked into solving the mystery of the hotel, alongside a cast of colorful characters. Part mystery, part cinematic horror, Spirit Week will appeal to all readers. I read it in one sitting, it was that good. 

By Ira Marcks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spirit Week as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Aspiring engineer Suzy Hess is invited to the famous Underlook Hotel, domain of the reclusive horror writer Jack Axworth, in the mountains above her hometown of Estes Park, Colorado. Suzy thinks she's there to tutor Jack's son, Danny, but instead she finds herself investigating a local curse that threatens the landmark hotel.

With the help of Elijah Jones, an amateur filmmaker who thought he'd been asked to make a film about the so-called King of Horror; Rena Hallorann, the hotel's caretaker; and Danny, who knows more than he's letting on, Suzy sets out to solve the mystery at the heart…


Book cover of Hide and Seeker

Fleur Bradley Why did I love this book?

If you really want to be scared, Hide and Seeker by Daka Hermon is the book for you.

This story takes the hide and seek game and gives it a creepy twist. The book opens when Justin goes to see his friend Zee, who mysteriously disappeared a year earlier and is now back. But nothing is the same… Anyone who plays the game disappears, one by one, taken by the mysterious Seeker. This book had me sleeping with the light on.

If you have a kid reader who truly loves to be scared, Hide and Seeker is the perfect book.

By Daka Hermon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hide and Seeker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

One of our most iconic childhood games receives a creepy twist as it becomes the gateway to a nightmare world.

I went up the hill, the hill was muddy, stomped my toe and made it bloody, should I wash it?Justin knows that something is wrong with his best friend.Zee went missing for a year. And when he came back, he was . . . different. Nobody knows what happened to him. At Zee's welcome home party, Justin and the neighborhood crew play Hide and Seek. But it goes wrong. Very wrong.One by one, everyone who plays the game disappears, pulled…


Book cover of The Ghosts of Rancho Espanto

Fleur Bradley Why did I love this book?

This book starts with a prank gone wrong, when Rafa and his friend steal the school slushy machine and get busted. As punishment, Rafa is sent to Ranch Espanto in New Mexico for the summer.

Rafa makes a friend in Jennie, but his work at the ranch keeps being sabotaged… He has to solve the (supernatural) mystery of the ranch, and in the end the book has a cool plot twist to satisfy mystery readers like myself. Aside from the strong plot, this book also covers tougher topics affecting these kids, giving it depth and heart.

I loved the New Mexico feel of the book, and appreciated how there was a mystery as well as supernatural (and magical realism) elements. The Ghosts of Rancho Espanto is the perfect book for kids who like a blend of genres, not simply another ghost story.

By Adrianna Cuevas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ghosts of Rancho Espanto as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Sometimes parents are creative when they punish you. But not Rafael's dad. He doesn't bother with a traditional punishment when he finds out Rafael and his friends tried to steal a slushie machine from the school cafeteria. He skips right over creative, too. He blasts all the way to completely unhinged and bonkers.

That's how Rafael ends up on a ranch in Middle of Nowhere, New Mexico, thousands of miles from home in Miami. He's content to keep his head down and do as he's told, but his work is inexplicably sabotaged by a strangely familiar man, one with the…


You might also like...

Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade

By Kimberly Behre Kenna,

Book cover of Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade

Kimberly Behre Kenna Author Of Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

From early childhood, I escaped into nature when times got tough—climbing trees, exploring the woods, and chatting with beach creatures. When I had to be indoors, books were my escape, and most of my favorites had rich nature settings that were so well-drawn that I could see them and feel like I was actually there. Following strong protagonists as they deal with life challenges by interacting with nature was an affirmation for me and still is. As a parent and former fifth-grade teacher, I’ve witnessed the power that books have to lessen loneliness and inspire hope and activism. 

Kimberly's book list on middle grade kids and nature mingle

What is my book about?

Artemis Sparke has had it with humans. She heads to the nearby salt marsh to hang out with the birds, plants, and mollusks who don't make a big deal of her stutter. The shoreline sanctuary is predictable, unlike her family and friends, and the data in her science journal proves it.

But one day that data goes haywire, and her bird friend RT confirms it: the salt marsh is dying. Artemis discovers that the historic hotel where she lives with her mom may be part of the problem, but speaking up would mean confronting the cranky hotel owner who happens…

Artemis Sparke and the Sound Seekers Brigade

By Kimberly Behre Kenna,

What is this book about?

"...Artemis Sparke is pure energy! ...Kenna's well-crafted debut is a timely gift." -Leslie Connor, National Book Award finalist and author of The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle and Anybody Here Seen Frenchie?

When Artemis Sparke has had it with humans, she heads to the nearby salt marsh to hang out with the birds, plants, and mollusks who don't make a big deal of her stutter. The shoreline sanctuary is predictable, unlike her family and friends, and the data in her science journal proves it. But one day that data goes haywire, and her bird friend RT confirms it: the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in secrets, missing persons, and hide and seek?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about secrets, missing persons, and hide and seek.

Secrets Explore 257 books about secrets
Missing Persons Explore 283 books about missing persons
Hide And Seek Explore 16 books about hide and seek