Middle school is a time of great change and growth. It can be difficult to find books that speak to the middle schooler in us all, but fear not! We’ve compiled a list of 20 of the best middle school horror books for you to read in 2021!
These books have been carefully selected by our team, and we think they’re just what your tween needs in their life this October. You can read more about each book below or click on the image or title to go straight to Amazon where you can purchase it if you like it!
There is nothing better than curling up with a good book when it’s cold outside, and this time of year is perfect for that. We hope you find something new that becomes one of your favorites, too.
middle-grade horror books
Tia Lugo has a deadly secret. She wants to enjoy the end of summer, which means hanging out with her best friend Julius and ignoring her grandmother’s embarrassing reliance on creepy candles, weird-smelling herbs, and eerie statues—all available for sale at the nearby botanical. When Tia witnesses a murder late one night from her bedroom window, everything changes in an instant.
Zee Puckett loves ghost stories. She just never expected to be living one. It all starts with a dark and stormy night. When the skies clear, everything is different. People are missing. There’s a creepy new principal who seems to know everyone’s darkest dreams. And Zee is seeing frightening things: large, scary dogs that talk and maybe even . . . a ghost.
For fans of Small Spaces and the Goosebumps series by R.L Stine comes a chilling ghost story about a girl living in the decrepit and creepy mansion, who discovers something in the woods is after her.
Six kids search for a new place to call home in this middle school graphic horror novel debut by comic creators Cait May and Trevor Bream, for fans of Marvel’s Runaways and The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag. Another Kind is not your average monster story.
From the master of middle school horror Mary Downing Hahn, a new thriller about bravery, unexpected friendship, and sinister cats that will captivate readers with its chilling mix of mystery and magic.
Cordelia’s last year at Shadow School brings readers back for the finale in the spooky middle-grade trilogy by J.A. White, the author of the acclaimed Thickety series and Nightbooks. Cordelia must complete her quest to save the world of the living from the ghosts, and dangerous phantoms, who terrorize them.
The start of a spine-tingling new horror series perfect for fans of Stranger Things and Goosebumps. Thirteen-year-old Quinn Parker knows that there’s something off about her neighbors. She calls them “the Oldies” because they’ve lived on Goodie Lane for as long as anyone can remember, but they never seem to age. Are they vampires? Or aliens? Or getting secret experimental surgeries? Or is Quinn’s imagination just running wild again?
In this spine-chilling middle-grade debut–perfect for fans of Small Spaces and the Goosebumps series–a brother and sister are transported to a cursed world based on the game hide-and-seek, where the only way to get home is to win.
Flesh-hungry ogres? Brains full of spiders? Haunted houses you can’t escape? This collection of 35 terrifying stories from the Horror Writers Association has it all, including ghastly illustrations from Iris Compiet that will absolutely chill readers to the bone.
The New York Times bestselling author of Dread Nation makes her middle-grade debut with a sweeping tale of the ghosts of our past that won’t stay buried, starring an unforgettable girl named Ophie.
Reminiscent of Doll Bones, this deliciously eerie middle-grade novel tells the story of a girl who must enter a world of ghosts, witches, and monsters to play a game with deadly consequences and rescue her aunt.
When Coraline steps through a door to find another house strangely similar to her own (only better), things seem marvelous. But there’s another mother there and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.
When Willa discovers a mysterious dark hollow filled with strange and beautiful creatures, she comes to realize that it contains a terrifying force. Is unleashing these dangerous spirits the key to stopping the loggers? Willa must find a way to save the people and animals she loves and take a stand against the all-consuming darkness that threatens to destroy her world.
After sneaking out against her mother’s wishes, Artie Irvin spots a massive wolf―then watches it don a bathrobe and transform into her mom. Thrilled to discover she comes from a line of werewolves, Artie asks her mom to share everything―including the story of Artie’s late father. Her mom reluctantly agrees. And to help Artie figure out her own wolflike abilities, her mom recruits some old family friends.
New ya horror books
The Haunting of Hill House meets Get Out in this chilling YA psychological thriller and modern take on the classic haunted house story from New York Times bestselling author Tiffany D. Jackson!
From the New York Times bestselling author of Five Total Strangers and “master of suspense” (BCCB), Natalie D. Richards, comes a pulse-pounding YA thriller about a girl who goes on a mysterious scavenger hunt, only to discover that someone knows her worst secret…and is out for blood.
Courtney Gould’s thrilling YA debut The Dead and the Dark is about the things that lurk in dark corners, the parts of you that can’t remain hidden, and about finding a home in places—and people—you didn’t expect.
A smart and terrifying teen horror novel inspired by Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, from Get Even author Gretchen McNeil—now a Lifetime Original Movie!
Ten teens. Three days. One killer.
How Scary Can Middle-Grade Books Be?
Middle-grade books can be as scary as you want them to be! The level of horror is completely up to the author. Many middle-grade authors choose to tone down the scares a bit, opting instead for suspenseful or spooky scenes that will keep readers on the edge of their seats without giving them nightmares. However, there are also plenty of middle-grade authors who enjoy writing truly terrifying tales. These books can include chilling scenes and hair-raising jumpscares that are sure to send a shiver down your spine.
Is the Horror Genre Appropriate for Middle School?
There’s no easy answer to this question. It depends on a lot of factors, including the maturity of the students and the content of the particular book. If you’re thinking of purchasing a horror book for your middle-grade reader, it’s important to consider whether the book is appropriate for your child.
There are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. First, consider the age of your child. Middle schoolers are at the stage where they’re starting to explore their own identities and become more independent. They’re also forming close friendships and testing boundaries. For these reasons, some educators argue that horror books can be helpful for middle schoolers. The books can provide a way for students to explore their fears in a safe and controlled environment.
They can also help students bond with one another as they discuss the book afterward. Additionally, horror books can help middle-schoolers develop a higher level of empathy. As they read about the fears and struggles of the characters in the book, they may be able to relate to them on a deeper level.
Of course, not all middle schoolers will be ready for horror books. It’s important to consider your child’s individual personality and maturity level before making a purchase. If you think your child might be sensitive to disturbing content, it’s probably best to steer clear of horror books.
Additionally, some parents simply don’t feel comfortable with their children reading horror books. If you have any concerns, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
If you have a tween at home or in your class, don’t let October come and go without reading some spooky middle-grade books. The best part about these books is that they are short enough for kids to read them on their own AND the majority of them aren’t too scary!
There’s something out there for everyone. Fore more booklists for your tween, check out: 20 Books Your Child Should Read After The Mysterious Benedict Society, Fall in Love With These 15 Middle-Grade Books by AAPI Authors, and Awesome New Middle-Grade Books to Read for Black History Month.
Want more? Let me know what you’re looking for and I’ll email you personalized recommendations every month. Happy Reading!