You’re probably aware by now that YA is my genre of choice. It wasn’t always. Being a children’s librarian led me to the genre and once there I stayed. Now you can pretty much find me reading either YA or a classic. I’m not much of an in-betweener these days. It helps that my boys are reaching the YA age. I have a teen and a tween, so I’m not only on the lookout for good books for myself anymore. In fact, Middle has read a lot of my faves in the past year. I love when he comes to me for a recommendation. Littlest is just getting to that point, so I want to be ready with the goods when he asks.
Since October is my favorite month, Halloween my favorite holiday, and YA my favorite genre, I am well prepared to recommend books for your teen or tween to read to put them in the spirit of the season. In fact, you might want me to shut up here in a minute.
I probably won’t.
Halloween Reads for Tweens
This classic about Kit Tyler, who comes to the Puritan community of 1867 Connecticut to live with her aunt and uncle after her grandfather dies, is just eerie enough to enthrall while teaching your littles about the dangers of judging others.
My boys exclaim, “Oh, that’s a good book!” every time this one gets mentioned. Set in a medieval abbey, it’s about a young orphan who finds a hobgoblin in the woods, which leads to a grand adventure. Part ghost story, part mythical tale, part coming-of-age story, this book has all the spooky creepies a little could ask for.
This is another one my boys absolutely loved. A young boy running from a terrifying past lands in a remote village called Pagus Parvus at the same time Joe Zabbidou appears out of the fog. Zabbidou is a pawnbroker and he hires young Ludlow to be his apprentice. Ludlow’s job? To write down the secrets of the villagers in the Black Book as each villager confesses in the back room of Zabbidou’s pawn shop. A pawnbroker who trades in secrets? There’s enough mystery and enchantment here for any little.
Not making this up–It’s in our top five favorites that we’ve read aloud together.
This one is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. The Snow Queen has frozen Jack’s heart and his best friend Hazel has to travel to the ice palace to save him. Listen, I love stories based on fairy tales. If you don’t believe me, check out Frog’s Princess, which I based on the Grimm tale The Frog Prince. Breadcrumbs is especially well-written and suspenseful enough to make this list.
Talk about a ghost story. Man, Lauren Oliver has the stuff. I’ve never read a book by her that I didn’t love. This one is about a little girl whose only friend is a ghost and the alchemist’s apprentice who gets them all in a heap of trouble. This is one I’ve read over and over again.
Speaking of books I’ve read many times. Because Gaiman. But I’ve said that before. A little boy raised in a graveyard by ghosts and vampires and other things that go bump in the night? Yeah yeah. But it’s not just that, y’all. It’s a story of love and friendship and growing up. Mostly, it’s about what it means to be family. Plus, it’s downright creepy at times. So there’s that.
Not my first King novel. Not even my fourth. But I remember how excited I was when this book came out that King was branching into fantasy. And he did a stellar job. This book has castles, dragons, sorcery, and a Very Bad Man, but it’s told from the POV of a young boy, at which King excels
A whole magical world on the grandparents farm? Dangers untold and heroic siblings? This one is pure fun.
This one is seriously spooky. The monsters from the books of Eddie’s favorite author start coming out to play, and Eddie and his band of friends have to find a way to stop them. Good, good stuff.
Elijah is forced to go live with his two weird aunts when his parents mysteriously leave town. The aunts run a beauty salon, but something about it doesn’t seem right. When Elijah realizes he can’t leave the marsh and the aunts’ behavior keeps getting curiouser and curiouser, he has to solve the mystery surrounding them before time runs out. Witchy.
I can’t say enough about this book. It is truly eerie from the first page with some of that great coming-of-age boy stuff that only certain authors can truly capture. The boys and I were biting our nails as we read it.
We’re starting this book next week as our Halloween read. Bradbury is such a genius at writing from kids’ POV, we can’t wait to delve in and discover the mysteries of Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud and his mystical Halloween tour.
The name of the town where Annie lives is Howland. That’s creepy enough. But darkness falls on Howland like a blanket thrown over your head, and they have no word for evening. If that’s not bad enough, there are scary things out there. But Annie has to escape the cruelty of her aunt and uncle. And through the dark is the only way to go.
Halloween Reads for Teens
Any of the books in the above list
These books. I’ve never read anything more eerie than the first one. A private school on an island on which Anne can’t remember arriving. Mysterious friends, even stranger enemies, and a beautiful boy that she almost remembers even though she knows that can’t be right. A strange competition for the Valedictorian spot that everyone, even freshmen, take all too seriously. What on Earth has Anne gotten herself into? You won’t guess. When you think you’ve figured it all out, you’ll be forced to think again.
Anything based on a story of Poe’s is bound to be good, but Griffin has a way with words that makes it even better. I’ve read this book and its sequel twice, and I’m sure I will read them again. Great YA combined with a plague and a mystery? Yeah yeah–it doesn’t get better.
Frost is kind of a post-apocalyptic tale in which the world has been frozen. The wasteland is even more dangerous than the cold, though. Monsters roam the night. The government has everyone under its thumb, and to break the rules is to risk severe punishment or even death. When a mysterious, bleeding boy shows up in good-girl Lia’s barn, she can’t imagine turning him in. So she saves him. And gets drawn into a whole new world where the monsters–in the woods and in the government–must be conquered. This is the first book in a series, and I’ll admit to reading them all straight through without being able to put them down.
We’re big Shusterman fans in this house, and Everlost is one of Big’s favorites. Nick and Allie die in a car accident, but they don’t go to Heaven. They end up in Everlost, a limbo that is a shadow of the living world, a place filled with all the things that no longer exist. Sounds okay, except it’s also dangerous. It’s an interesting look at what just might be out there, between life and death, with enough spooky to make it on this list.
New Orleans. I love scary stories set in New Orleans. It just seems like exactly the right city for weird stuff to take place in. In this one, Rebecca is spending a miserable year with her Aunt Claudia, attending a private school where she doesn’t have any friends, and wishing she were just about anywhere else. But then she meets Lisette, and finally thinks she might have found a kindred spirit. The problem? Lisette really is a spirit. Haunting stuff.
See what I did there?
If you’ve seen the movie, forget everything you saw. I was so mad that they combined two of the best characters from this series into one person. And though they hit the right note at the end, they just didn’t do the story justice.
Ethan and Lena’s love story is one of those real, desperate, true-love stories that you can’t get enough of in a book, but when you add in Lena’s impending future as a ‘bad witch’ you get some truly spooky southern-style goth that is to die for.
Another book that explores what happens after death, this one follows Madison through her post-death experience, where souvenirs from her life help her re-live her most vivid moments. Sometimes, she can even change them. A wonderful book about what life means.
Morris is a genius at ghost stories, so she made the list twice. This one is set in York, England, a city with a long history and a lot of hauntings. Miranda’s ghost, however, is a boy with a secret. A ghost story and a mystery all in one, this one is sure to please.
Of course Gaiman made the list twice. Because Gaiman. Duh. The Ocean is a little more grown-up than The Graveyard Book. It’s about a boy who befriends the girl who lives at the end of his street, even though she’s a little odd. And all the things that happen to him because of that friendship are downright freaking scary. I heart this book so much. In fact, I’m praying right now for an extra week in October so I’ll be able to find the time to read it again.
This book surprised me. Bryn has Klein-Levin Syndrome. If you don’t know what that is, well, she falls asleep suddenly and can stay that way for hours, days, or even weeks. Her illness is even more rare–she remembers where she goes when she sleeps. It’s a place filled with her own memories, as solid a world as the one she walks while awake. She’s used to it. Until the day a boy shows up in her dream world, the first person she’s ever encountered there. And he stays. Mysterious from beginning to end. The way I like them.
Big insisted this book be on the list. It’s the first in a very long series called The Dresden Files. Harry Dresden is a professional wizard in Chicago. He solves mysteries and fights the good fight against the darker arts. He also has a potty mouth. Fair warning.
Okay, so these two aren’t YA, but I think your older teens would enjoy them anyway:
The film based on this book is one of my all-time faves. But the book is different enough that it’s well worth the read. Hoffman is, of course, brilliant. That’s what makes it special.
New Orleans, people. And Ann Rice is the master. This book is creepy, spooky, eerie, scary, and mysterious all rolled into one. It has some adult subject matter, but older teens can probably handle it. I don’t recommend them continuing the series, though. This books is pretty satisfying as a stand-alone, and Rice takes a dive into things not teen-friendly in the second book. I won’t lie to you, I didn’t read more than 2 chapters of the second book. Some things I just don’t want to read about.
If you’re not telling me to shut up by now, I’m tapping out anyway. I have to save some for future use.
Happy October reading!