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Scary YA Horror Books Older Kids Will Need to Read With the Light On


For little kids, Halloween is pretty straightforward: picking the perfect costume (and then changing their mind again the night before), watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! and generally getting excited for all things that (gently) go bump in the night. But what about older kids who feel too old for trick-or-treating, too old to dress up, and too old to get a kick out of you telling them their spaghetti dinner is brains? They’re left to find their own creepy-crawly tween/teen entertainment on All Hallow’s Eve. In lieu of them TPing your crotchety neighbor’s house or watching a horror movie that will scar them for life, encourage them to make some easy Halloween treats, cozy up under the covers, and read one of these unbelievable stories that are guaranteed to make them sleep with the lights on.

Note that these are actually-scary stories perfect for older kids, so be prepared to find said kid in your bed once they’ve finished reading. From dolls coming alive to a boy imprisoned by a witch to a school trip gone horribly wrong, these books will give you goosebumps and make you extra jumpy; just make sure you don’t read these while you’re home alone. If you do, you’ll be faced with the terrible dilemma of a) reading in silence so you can hear the footsteps coming for you, or b) turning up the TV so you don’t hear anything at all. You can also read these stories along with your older kids while on doorbell duty — and watch as they jump out of their skin every time the doorbell rings. Trick or treat…

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A version of this story was originally published in October 2019.

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