Read if You Dare: Middle Grade Summer Scares

2023 marks the fifth annual Summer Scares, a program partnership of the Horror Writers Association (HWA), United for Libraries, Book Riot, and Booklist to promote horror as a fun reading option during any time of year. Designed with titles for all ages, this year, there are three featured middle grade titles for this year’s Summer Scares program:
Small Spaces by Katharine Arden (series)
Living Ghosts and Mischievous Monsters: Chilling American Indian Stories by Dan SaSuWeh Jones (short stories, nonfiction)
A Small Zombie Problem  by K.G. Campbell (series)

Real life can be full of scares, so maybe you’re wondering why anyone might want to read a genre designed to be frightening, but that’s actually part of horror’s basic appeal. As a genre, horror often relies on imagined creatures or unexplained phenomenon to examine familiar concerns like illness, death, and more. The difference is horror authors handle those real life problems from the manageable distance of the imagination, and that can build understanding and confidence about how to manage the fears one might face in everyday life.

From supernatural stories and genre mash-ups to suspenseful inner challenges, cryptid creatures, and other features, horror stories are loaded with a wide variety of surprises to keep you up all night reading. Whether participating in the Summer Reading Program at Heights Libraries or looking for gently creepy, fast paced, fun books to enjoy on your own, three titles might not be enough for summer binge readers.

With that in mind, here are a few more choices to introduce middle grade readers to the genre best known for chills and thrills:

Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier (fiction)

The Girl in the Lake India Hill Brown (fiction)

Beetle and the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne (graphic novel)

Snapdragon by Kat Leyh (graphic novel)

This Appearing House by Ally Malinenko (fiction)

The Glass Witch by Lindsay Puckett (fiction)

Root Magic by Eden Royce (fiction)

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwarz (short stories, nonfiction)

Goosebumps by R.L. Stine (chapter books, series)

Lotería by Karla Valenti (fiction)


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