12+ Scary Story Recommendations for Kids and Adults This Halloween

It’s the season for spooky tales.

We caught up with three Louisville teachers — elementary, high school, and college — about some of their favorite scary stories to share with their classes this time of year.

These authors are past masters in the art of creating suspense and creating a thrill with the written word.

Brent Peters is an English teacher at Fern Creek High School. Ian Stansel is the director of the creative writing program at the University of Louisville and Samantha Booker is a second-grade teacher at Dunn Elementary.

Here are some fun and spooky reads they recommend for Halloween.

Halloween book recommendations for elementary school kids

award-winning Peter Brown "Scary carrots!"

Booker began his unit on creepy writing with “Harry and the Terrible Whatzit,” by Dick Gackenback. This is an older story from the 1970s about a child who faces a two-headed monster. Her students really enjoyed the suspense of the story, Booker said, but there is also a humorous side to the story.

Her students are big Creepy Tales fans too! series, written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown. “Scary Carrots!” is the class favorite, but there are a few other fun titles such as “Creepy Pair of Underwear!” and “Scary Pencil!”

Looking for something a little less macabre? Booker says “Room on the Broom,” by Julia Donaldson, is less of a scary story and more of a fun Halloween read about friendship.

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Halloween Book Recommendations for High School Students

In his class, Peters draws heavily on the works of Neil Gaiman, who is an award-winning, internationally acclaimed British author. He recommends “The Graveyard Book” by Gaiman, which is a comprehensive novel about an unusual boy who is the sole living resident of a cemetery.

“Raised from childhood by ghosts, werewolves, and other graveyard denizens, Bod learned the antiquated customs of his time from his guardians as well as their timely ghostly teachings, such as the ability to fade” , indicates the description. “Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the world of the living and the dead?

Peters also uses Gaiman’s “Coraline” in his lessons, which was made into a feature film in 2009. The story follows a young girl who discovers a hidden door to a fantasy in her life.


Some of Peters’ other favorites include the graphic novel “Through The Woods” by Emily Carroll, a poem called “Abandoned Farmhouse” by Ted Kooser, and the novel “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

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Adult Halloween Book Recommendations

"Her body and other feasts," by Carmen Maria Machado.

Stansel recommended readers check out two different authors for this Halloween season.

He says the work of Carmen Maria Machado “plays with horror traditions in a way that is both chilling and empowering”. Machado is the author of the graphic novel “The Low, Low Woods” and the award-winning short story collection “Her Body and Other Parties”.

Grady Hendrix is ​​another of Stansel’s favorite writers. His novels are scary, but also very funny and kitsch. Stansel calls it “horror, with a wink.” Hendrix’s novel “The Exorcism of My Best Friend” deals with demonic possession, friendship and exorcism and was recently adapted into a movie, currently available on Amazon Prime.

Hendrix’s latest novel “The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires” is a New York Times bestseller.

After:Things Happen at Night: 7 Tips to Help You Write a Creepy, Spooky Story

Columnist Maggie Menderski writes about what makes Louisville, southern Indiana, and Kentucky unique, wonderful, and sometimes a little weird. If you have something in your family, your city, or even your closet that fits this description, she wants to hear from you. Say hello to [email protected] or 502-582-4053.

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