Scary Story Resources for Librarians


Ghost Stories for Scouts and Scouters
The “Ghost Stories for Scouts and Scouters” Web page is a resource listed on the boyscout website.  It includes scary stories contributed by scout members that meant to be told around a campfire.  While they may not seem especially scary when read off the website, I imagine that when they are told at night in the woods around a campfire, they become paralyzing!

Halloween Web: Where Things go Bump in the Night
No need to wait until Halloween to access the Halloween Web, “where things go bump in the night.”  This online scary story collection is among the scariest I’ve found that is appropriate for children.  The Web site’s music creates a bone- chilling mood for reading the stories.  There is a collection of stories that have been submitted by readers.  Children may be inspired to write and submit a story of their own.

The Literary Gothic
Maintained by a professor at Southern Illinois University, this Website contains an impressive collection of author information, research advice, links, and electronic texts all dealing with classic Gothic fiction, literature about the supernatural, and ghost stories.  Strengths of this source include that it is well organized, contains links to e-books, links to other Websites about horror fiction.  While this Literary Gothic is intended for adults, it is appropriate for older students, however some of the stories contain adult themes and may be too scary for younger children.

The Moonlit Road
The Moonlit Road includes ghost stories and folktales of the American South.  Stories
can only be listened to in Real Audio or read online.  Included on the Web site are
forums to discuss the stories and brief information about the cultural history of each tale.
The featured stories section includes the classic tale “Taily-Po” about an ugly creature
who haunts a mountaineer in hopes of having his tail returned to him.

Thrills and Chills! Using Scary Stories to Motivate Students to Read
This lesson teaches students about story structure and critical thinking skills using scary stories.  The advantages of using this website are that it links to several supplementary worksheets including “How to Write Your Own Scary Story,” and “The 5 Ws of Scary Story Writing.”  Also included is a link to the online “Spooky Java Jukebox,” so that teachers can play scary music to set the mood as students enter the classroom.


Carus, Marianne, and Xuan YongSheng. 13 Scary Ghost Stories. New York: Scholastic, 2002.
In addition to thirteen ghosts, readers meet werewolves, skeletons and vampires Appropriate for ages seven to twelve, the stories in this book are not actually all that scary, making them ideal for early elementary students are children that are easily scared.  The first story in the collection, Bigger Than Death, is about a dog that comes back as a ghost to haunt its family. 

Dickson, Randy. “Horror: To Gratify, Not Edify.” Language Arts  76.2 (Nov. 1998): 115-122.
The author examines why children are drawn to scary stories, especially the Goosebumps series.  She suggests that when introducing children to the horror genre, parents and teachers should include books that are literary rewarding, like novels by John Bellairs.  The usefulness of this article is that it includes a list of scary books for children that the author feels have more literary merit than some of the popular scary stories and it includes tips on helping children choose scary stories that are right for them.

Hurston, Zora Neale, comp. The Skull Talks Back and Other Haunting Tales. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2004.
Best known for her novel, Their Eyes were Watching God, anthropologist, essayist, and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston retells a collection of spooky stories from an African-American perspective that she grew up hearing in rural Southern Alabama.  This collection includes a story about a witch that can slip off her skin and ones about eerie cats, talking animals and bloody bones. The collection is appropriate for older elementary students with strong reading skills and middle school students. 

Kelley, Amy. Spooky Campfire Stories . Guilford: Falcon, 2000.
Whether you are camping out around a pretend campfire or a real one, grab some somemores and start reading!  Contained in a book that is convenient and portable, these stories are ideal for read-alouds and can easily be retold.  The reading level is around third grade, but the stories are appropriate for around ages eight to thirteen, and would be fun for a family to read together when the electricity goes out.

Reiner, Carl. Tell Me a Scary Story... But Not Too Scary! . New York: Little Brown and Company, 2003.
Appropriate for ages four to seven, author Carl Reiner gives parents and children chances to stop if the story becomes too scary by writing at the bottom of several pages, “Shall we turn the page- or is this too scary?”  The story includes the creepy Mr. Neewollah, fake eyeballs and monsters. The book is accompanied with a CD featuring Reiner reading the story with eerie backgound noises. 

Schembri, Pamela. Scary Stories You Won’t Be Afraid To Use! Resources and Activities for a K-6 Audience. Worthington: Linworth Publishing, 2001.
Written by a school librarian, this book contains over five hundred “scary story” resources for elementary school teachers.  It includes lesson plans, storytelling tips, and a resource list.  The lesson plans are arranged by age level, while the resources are grouped into categories including scary stories, monster stories, witches, supernatural, and haunted houses.  Teachers will appreciate the lesson plans that incorporate technology and are written for subjects including math, social studies, art, science, language arts.

Steiger, Brad. Real Ghosts, Restless Spirits, and Haunted Places. Detroit: Visible Ink Press , 2003.
This collection of real ghosts stories has been written for adults, but it would be appropriate for older children (ten and up) and teens.  Steiger includes photographs of ghosts and techniques of paranormal investigators.  The appendix includes a directory of paranormal groups and movie recommendations.  Curl up with this book on a dark and stormy night and prepare to have your pants scared off! 

Stine, R.L., comp. Beware! : R.L. Stine Picks His Favorite Scary Stories   . New York: HarperCollins, 2002.
Each story, folktale, cartoon, and poem in this collection includes a short introduction by R.L. Stine, the creator of the Goosebumps series.  Included are stories by Shel Silverstein, Alvin Schwartz, Ray Bradbury, Patricia McKissack, Edward Gorey, and Bram Stoker.  Readers may appreciate that the especially scary stories are often followed by a story that contains horror, however all the stories contain at least some element of fright.

Truly Scary Stories for the Fearless . N.p.: Book Sales, 2001.
This is the perfect collection for the child who claims to not be scared by horror stories.  Thirty authors are represented in this collection that contains classics such as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and     Most of the stories contain humor as wells as terror.  One of the strengths of this collection is that, like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz, it contains poems, including an especially creepy one about a dying traveler that requests his companions cremate his remains when he dies.

Walton, Rick, and David Clark. A Very Hairy Scary Story. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 2004.
Balancing spookiness and silliness, this illustrated book is ideal for the youngest scary story enthusiast. On young Sarah’s walk home from a friend’s house, she encounters a giant flying bat, a multi-eyed spider, a stinky skunk, and a roaring lion.  In the end, she falls safely into the arms of her father.  The ink and watercolor illustrations effectively show the emotion Sarah feels and encourage creativity from children by hiding scary creatures in the shadows and allowing children to see their own scary images, Rorschach-style.

Welch, R. C. Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs. Minneapolis: Highbridge, 1997.
The first in a series of eight, this short story collection encourages kids to invite their friends over, get into their sleeping bags and pass the flashlight around taking turns scaring the living daylights out of each other.  The spooky stories are interspersed with funny and gross ones.  If you enjoy this collection, be sure to check out the other books in this series.

Williams, Monica. In the Past I Was Clueless: Writing Scary Stories in the Middle School. Marrickville: Primary English Teaching Association, 2000.
This book includes the experiences of Australian teacher Monica Williams’s teaching writing to a mixed-ability, middle school English class using scary story narratives.  Using William’s lessons, teachers can incorporate foreshadowing, parts of speech, descriptive language, critical thinking skills and grammar all in one lesson!  This is a great way to pull reluctant writers in with scary stories.

April 1, 2006
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