The Right Amount of Fright: Scary Books for Young Children

Young readers are often as fascinated by the macabre as older kids, and it can be a challenge to find scary books that aren't too unsettling. Here are some suggestions:

In A Dark, Dark Wood  leads readers from a spooky forest into a mysterious house, building suspense until a pop-up ghost surprises them on the last page.

Just A Minute is a story about Señor Calavera, a skeleton who comes to collect Grandma Beetle, who cleverly postpones the departure and tricks him into waiting while she busies herself with various tasks. As an added bonus, since this is also a bilingual counting book, kids are exposed to numbers and Spanish along the way.

Who Said Boo? is a delightful lift-the-flap book that introduces kids to classic Halloween creatures, but the playful illustrations are upbeat and not the least bit frightening. Even babies will enjoy this rhyming board book.

For sensitive readers, Go Away, Big Green Monster! is an excellent choice. The monster is described in greater detail as each page is turned. But children realize they have control over him, as they can make him disappear by taking away elements and then not allowing him back until they are ready.

Finally, in The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, a brave woman is pursued by unusual objects that become increasingly unnerving until she confidently faces them head on. This story invites participation, and children will enjoy the suspense and satisfying conclusion.

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Chicago Public Library