The best spooky middle grade audiobooks for family car trips

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved scary stories ever since I was a kid thumbing through Goosebumps, and I’m delighted that my children enjoy them as much as I do. Since they’ve outgrown spooky picture books like mine, middle grade horror audiobooks are our favorite way to pass the half-hour drive to school—but not every excellent book has an equally excellent narrator. Some sound downright bored with the material; others have such engaging voices that I will never read the books again without hearing them in my head. These are five of the most deliciously creepy middle grade novels that we’ve discovered for those long car trips.


I wrote...

Book cover of Mother Ghost: Nursery Rhymes for Little Monsters

What is my book about?

From "Mary, Mary, Tall and Scary" to "Wee Willie Werewolf," this collection of classic nursery rhymes turned on their heads will give readers the chills--and a serious case of belly laughs. With clever rhyme and spooky illustrations, Mother Ghost is perfect for getting in the Halloween spirit. Boo!

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Scare Me

Rachel Kolar Why did I love this book?

This is my eleven-year-old son’s favorite book by master of kiddie horror K.R. Alexander, and I’ll admit that when I read the paperback, I didn’t understand why. The story of Kevin’s obsessive desire to win the annual haunted house contest—no matter what dark forces he angers in the process—was very good, but I thought some of Alexander’s other books were better. Then I listened to the audiobook, and I’ll be darned if I don’t agree with my son now. Michael Crouch infuses Kevin with exactly the right levels of vulnerability and desperation, making us understand every terrible decision he makes...even as we cringe in anticipation of the consequences.

By K.R. Alexander,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Scare Me 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?

A haunted house has come to life in this spine-tingling novel from the author of The Collector.

They've lost control of the haunted house.Every year, the town of Happy Hills holds its haunted house contest. In a spooky old manor, teams of kids come up with new ways to frighten people. The scariest team wins.But this year, all the teams are going to lose. Because this year the house itself has awakened . . . and it won't be happy until it's devoured all the people inside. What started out as a game has turned into something much more deadly.Is…


Book cover of Nightbooks

Rachel Kolar Why did I love this book?

I’ve described this half-jokingly to adult horror fans as “baby’s first Misery.” When young Alex is kidnapped by a wicked witch named Natacha, he must tell her a new scary story every night... or face the consequences. More than a fun, shivery adventure, this book Is a godsend to kids who love scary stories, assuring them that there’s nothing weird or wrong about their interests (and scaring them silly in the process). Even if your children have seen the movie, the book adds new layers to the story and its themes, and it’s delightful to hear Kirby Heyborne offering a different take on the characters’ voices; I will never be able to read Natacha’s dialog without hearing his unhinged shrieking in my head.

By J. A. White,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nightbooks 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?

Now a Netflix film!
A modern spin on the Scheherazade story, perfect for fans
of Coraline and Fear Street.

A boy is imprisoned by a witch and must tell her a new scary story
each night to stay alive.

Alex's hair-raising tales are the only thing keeping the witch
Natacha happy, but soon he'll run out of pages to read from and
be trapped forever.

He's loved scary stories his whole life, and he knows most don't
have a happily ever after.

But now that Alex is trapped in a terrifying tale of his own,
he's desperate for a different…


Book cover of City of Ghosts

Rachel Kolar Why did I love this book?

Ever since her near-death experience, Cassidy has been able to see ghosts. There aren’t too many to worry about in her hometown (other than her best friend, Jacob), but when her ghost-hunter parents take her to Edinburgh, there are suddenly spirits everywhere... and some are old, powerful, and unfriendly. The worldbuilding in this book blew me away—Schwab did such good work establishing the meaning of certain symbols that I gasped in horror at her description of a knotted thread—and the book’s many facts about Edinburgh are educational without feeling dry. Reba Buhr’s voice builds up the tension in all the right places, making it almost impossible to hit “stop.”

By Victoria Schwab,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked City of Ghosts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Ever since Cass almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn't
like to think about it), she can pull back the Veil that separates
the living from the dead . . . and enter the world of spirits.
Her best friend is even a ghost.

So things are already pretty strange. But they're about to get much
stranger.

When Cass's parents start hosting a TV show about the world's most
haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here,
graveyards, castles, and secret passageways teem with restless
phantoms. And when Cass meets a girl who shares her "gift,"…


Book cover of Hoodoo

Rachel Kolar Why did I love this book?

A Southern Gothic historical horror, Hoodoo is a story of fair and foul folk magic in 1930s Alabama. Hoodoo Hatcher is the only person in his family without a knack for the hoodoo that gave him his name—and that’s a problem, because the evil Stranger is coming for him, and he’ll need all the courage and smarts he can summon to keep himself and his family safe. To me, the greatest joy of this wonderful book is Hoodoo’s distinctive, humorous voice, and Ron Butler brings him perfectly to life in his performance; it’s not easy for an adult to make a child’s voice sound authentic, but Butler knocks it out of the park. 

By Ronald L. Smith,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Hoodoo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Twelve year old Hoodoo Hatcher was born into a family with a rich tradition of practicing folk magic - hoodoo, as most people call it. But even though his name is Hoodoo, he can't seem to cast a simple spell. Then a mysterious man called the Stranger comes to town, and Hoodoo starts dreaming of the dead rising from their graves. Even worse, he soon learns the Stranger is looking for a boy. Not just any boy. A boy named Hoodoo. The entire town is at risk from the Stranger's black magic, and only Hoodoo can defeat him. He'll just…


Book cover of Scary Stories for Young Foxes

Rachel Kolar Why did I love this book?

The most original middle grade horror novel I’ve read in the past five years! Every story in this Newbery Honor book takes something in the natural world and makes it a horror-movie nightmare for fox kits Mia and Uly—whether it’s a rabies outbreak recast as a zombie apocalypse or a sea monster that children will recognize as an alligator. Heidicker does the narration himself and reads his characters with wonderful emotion and nuance; the voice he uses for Mr. Scratch will send shivers down your spine. A word of caution: I found this to be the scariest book on the list by far, so you’ll want to pre-screen it before sharing it with your children.

By Christian McKay Heidicker, Junyi Wu (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Scary Stories for Young Foxes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Christian McKay Heidicker draws inspiration from witches, vampires, H. P. Lovecraft, and Edgar Allen Poe to craft his middle-grade debut, a chilling portrait of survival and an unforgettable tale of friendship.

When fox kits Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they quickly learn that the world is a dangerous place filled with monsters. As the young foxes travel across field and forest in search of a home, they'll face a zombie who hungers for their tender flesh, a witch who wants to wear their skins, a ghost who haunts and hunts them, and so much more.

Featuring eight…


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A Whale of a Tale: A Sabbath Summer Solstice Story

By Kerry M. Olitzky,

Book cover of A Whale of a Tale: A Sabbath Summer Solstice Story

Kerry M. Olitzky Author Of Heroes with Chutzpah: 101 True Tales of Jewish Trailblazers, Changemakers & Rebels

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Rabbi Academic Practitioner Educator

Kerry's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

This is a picture book created to help children learn how to determine Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, in countries where the summer sun remains high in the sky.

Tova travels with her mother to Alaska during the summer solstice. In the Land of the Midnight Sun, she is uncertain how to tell time because the sun never rises or sets. Tova wonders how she will know when the Sabbath begins or ends. Eventually, she talks to a wise orca. The whale shares her secret to understanding time with a circular sun and reminds Tova of the magic of Shabbat is more than telling time.

A Whale of a Tale: A Sabbath Summer Solstice Story

By Kerry M. Olitzky,

What is this book about?

A Whale of a Tale: A Sabbath Summer Solstice Story is a picture book created to help children learn how to determine Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, in countries where the summer sun remains high in the sky. Tova travels with her mother to Alaska during the summer solstice. In the Land of the Midnight Sun, she is uncertain how to tell time because the sun never rises or sets. Tova wonders how she will know when Sabbath begins or ends. Eventually, she talks to a wise orca. The whale shares her secret to understanding time with a circular sun and…


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