Browse our regularly updated lists of staff picks, bestsellers, reading recommendations by grade, award winners, and more.
Creepy Reads for Older Kids
Steve just wants to save his baby brother—but what will he lose in the bargain? Kenneth Oppel’s (Silverwing, The Boundless) haunting gothic tale for fans of Coraline, is one of the most acclaimed books of the year, receiving six starred reviews. Illustrations from Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen.
For some kids summer is a sun-soaked season of fun. But for Steve, it’s just another season of worries. Worries about his sick newborn baby brother who is fighting to survive, worries about his parents who are struggling to cope, even worries about the wasp’s nest looming ominously from the eaves. So when a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams, offering to “fix” the baby, Steve thinks his prayers have been answered.
All he has to do is say “Yes.” But “yes” is a powerful word. It is also a dangerous one. And once it is uttered, can it be taken back?
Celebrated author Kenneth Oppel creates an eerie masterpiece in this compelling story that explores disability and diversity, fears and dreams, and what ultimately makes a family. Includes illustrations from celebrated artist Jon Klassen.
The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street
A girl unravels a centuries-old mystery after moving into a haunted house in this deliciously suspenseful read that Kirkus Reviews calls “just the ticket for a cold autumn night.”
Tessa Woodward isn’t exactly thrilled to move to rainy, cold Chicago from her home in sunny Florida. But homesickness turns to icy fear when unexplainable things start happening in her new house. Things like flickering lights, mysterious drawings appearing out of nowhere, and a crackling noise she can feel in her bones.
When her little brother’s doll starts crying real tears, Tessa realizes that someone—or something—is trying to communicate with her. And it involves a secret that’s been shrouded in mystery for more than one hundred years.
With the help of three new friends, Tessa begins unraveling the mystery of what happened in the house on Shady Street—and more importantly, what it has to do with her!
Better Off Undead
After becoming undead, a boy tries to survive middle school.
Adrian Lazarus has met with a curious fate. He’s returned from the dead (after a bad bike accident, no helmet), yet not a lot has changed. He’s always been an outcast. But it’s not just being a zombie that makes Adrian feel different. He notices the world has changed, too: bees are vanishing, forest fires are burning, super-flus are spreading. The holographic advertisements in the night sky assure people that all is well. Adrian and his friends – a beekeeping boy, a mysterious new girl, and a seventh-grade sleuth – aren’t so sure.
When they discover a birdlike drone has been spying on Adrian, the clues lead to two powerful corporate moguls. What do they really want?
James Preller brings his singular humor to Better Off Undead, a middle-grade zombie story that's about fitting in as much as it's about the end of the world.
The Night Gardener
This much-anticipated follow-up to Jonathan Auxier's exceptional debut, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, is a Victorian ghost story with shades of Washington Irving and Henry James. More than just a spooky tale, it's also a moral fable about human greed and the power of storytelling.
The Night Gardener follows two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. With Auxier's exquisite command of language,The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making.
City of Ghosts
From #1 NYT bestselling author Victoria Schwab comes a sweeping, spooky, evocative adventure, perfect for fans of Stranger Things and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
Ever since Cass almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn't like to think about it), she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead . . . and enter the world of spirits. Her best friend is even a ghost.
So things are already pretty strange. But they're about to get much stranger.
When Cass's parents start hosting a TV show about the world's most haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, graveyards, castles, and secret passageways teem with restless phantoms. And when Cass meets a girl who shares her gift, she realizes how much she still has to learn about the Veil -- and herself.
And she'll have to learn fast. The city of ghosts is more dangerous than she ever imagined.
Fans of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book will embrace this darkly funny novel!
Crow isn't like the other kids. He stinks. He's got maggots. His body parts fall off at inopportune moments. (His mom always sews them back on, though.) And he hasn't been able to sleep in years. Not since waking up from death.
But worse than the maggots is how lonely Crow feels. When Melody Plympton moves in next door, Crow can't resist the chance to finally make a friend. With Melody around he may even have a shot at getting his life back from the mysterious wish-granting creature living in the park. But first there are tests to pass. And it will mean risking the only friend he's had in years.
Out of the Wild Night
From the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing Vemeer comes an unforgettable story about an island haunted by the ghosts of the past.
Ghosts are alive on the island of Nantucket. You can hear them in the wind and in the creaks of the old homes. They want to be remembered. And, even more, they want to protect what was once theirs.
The ghosts have chosen a few local kids to save the island against the adults who would do it harm. But the kids can't be sure how the ghosts are going to act. Things tend to disappear when ghosts are around. People tend to get trapped - especially if they're up to no good. Only the kids can make things right . . . if the ghosts will let them.
Out of the Wild Night is master storyteller Blue Balliett at her spooky best, a spellbinding tale about the haunted residents of a very special place.
Suee and the Shadow
Meet Suee: Twelve years old, wears her hair to the left in a point, favors a black dress, has no friends--and she likes it that way! When Suee transfers to the dull and ordinary Outskirts Elementary, she doesn't expect to hear a strange voice speaking to her from the darkness of the school's exhibit room, and she certainly doesn't expect to see her shadow come to life. Then things start to get really weird: One by one, her classmates at school turn into zombie-like, hollow-eyed Zeroes. While Suee investigates why this is happening, her shadow gains power. Soon, Suee must confront a stunning secret that her shadow has been hiding under her own two feet--something very dark and sinister that could put Suee and her newfound friends at risk!
New York Times bestselling adult author of The Bear and the Nightingale makes her middle grade debut with a creepy, spellbinding ghost story destined to become a classic
After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn't think--she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with "the smiling man," a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price.
Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she's been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn't have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: "Best get moving. At nightfall they'll come for the rest of you." Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie's previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN.
Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver's warning. As the trio head out into the woods--bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them--the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: "Avoid large places. Keep to small."
And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.
The School is Alive!
Eerie Elementary is one scary school!
In this first book in the series, Sam Graves discovers that his elementary school is ALIVE! Sam finds this out on his first day as the school hall monitor. Sam must defend himself and his fellow students against the evil school! Is Sam up to the challenge? He'll find out soon enough: the class play is just around the corner. Sam teams up with friends Lucy and Antonio to stop this scary school before it's too late!
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.
Coraline will have to fight with all her wit and courage if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.
Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been friends forever. And for almost as long, they’ve been playing one continuous, ever-changing game of pirates and thieves, mermaids and warriors. Ruling over all is the Great Queen, a bone-china doll cursing those who displease her.
But they are in middle school now. Zach’s father pushes him to give up make-believe, and Zach quits the game. Their friendship might be over, until Poppy declares she’s been having dreams about the Queen—and the ghost of a girl who will not rest until the bone-china doll is buried in her empty grave.
Zach and Alice and Poppy set off on one last adventure to lay the Queen’s ghost to rest. But nothing goes according to plan, and as their adventure turns into an epic journey, creepy things begin to happen. Is the doll just a doll or something more sinister? And if there really is a ghost, will it let them go now that it has them in its clutches?
Doll Bones is a winner of the Newbery Honor, is the recipient of six starred reviews, was on four Best Book lists, and was called "perfect" by The New York Times.
Rudger is Amanda Shuffleup's imaginary friend. Nobody else can see Rudger--until the evil Mr. Bunting arrives at Amanda's door. Mr. Bunting hunts imaginaries. Rumor has it that he even eats them. And now he's found Rudger.
Soon Rudger is alone, and running for his imaginary life. He needs to find Amanda before Mr. Bunting catches him--and before Amanda forgets him and he fades away to nothing. But how can an unreal boy stand alone in the real world?
In the vein of Coraline, this gripping take on imaginary friends comes to life in a lush package: beautiful illustrations (10 in full color) by acclaimed artist Emily Gravett, a foiled and debossed case cover, printed endpapers, and deckled page edges.
Boo! Halloween Picture Books
The Little Kitten
Ollie and her cat Pumpkin are out frolicking on a beautiful fall day when they come upon a tiny kitten shivering in a pile of fallen leaves. Ollie warms the kitten up and the three become fast friends, but when Ollie sees “Lost Kitten” posters hanging on the trees in the forest, she knows she has to help her new friend get home. As Halloween draws nearer, magic is afoot, and Ollie’s good deed is rewarded in an unexpected way.
Room on the Broom
The witch and her cat couldn't be happier, flying through the sky on their broomstick-until the witch drops her hat, then her bow, then her wand! Luckily, three helpful animals find the missing items and all they want in return is a ride on the broomstick. But is there room on the broom for so many new friends? And when disaster strikes, will they be able to save the witch from the clutches of a hungry dragon?
From the acclaimed creators of The Gruffalo, this enchanting story of quick wits and friendship is full of humor and adventure-and just the right amount of spookiness.
The Halloween Queen
It's Halloween and time for trick-or-treating. But this is one little girl who is afraid to go near her neighbor's house. However, the Halloween Queen has the best candy on the whole block, and hosts a fun party too.
Nothing frightens Winifred Schnitzel—but she DOES need her sleep, and the neighborhood monsters WON'T let her be! Every night they sneak in, growling and belching and making a ruckus. Winifred constructs clever traps, but nothing stops these crafty creatures. What's a girl to do? (Hint: Monsters HATE kisses!) The delightfully sweet ending will have every kid—and little monster—begging for an encore.
Sweets and Treats
What do you think of when you think of Halloween? Costumes, pumpkin faces, candy corn, tricks, and treats. All of those things -- and more -- are captured in this precious holiday book. This holiday title is made up of 16 lush cardstock pages. Author Toni Trent Parker has filled each spread with snappy rhyming text. Photographer Earl Anderson illustrates the text effectively with full-color photographs of popular Halloween items.
We're Going on a Pumpkin Hunt
Best-selling illustrator Lynn Munsinger (Tacky the Penguin, What Mommies/Daddies Do Best) puts pumpkins and autumn center stage in this rollicking take on the classic song, We're Going on a Bear Hunt.
A spooky nighttime hunt for the biggest pumpkin in town results in a fright but also a great adventure Laugh out loud at the sweet silliness and be heartened to know you might not be the only scaredy cat...er, mouse...in the pumpkin patch.
Pick a Pumpkin
Pairing a wonderfully rhythmic read-aloud text with expressive retro illustrations, author Patricia Toht and illustrator Jarvis capture all the excitement and familial feeling of a favorite holiday tradition. Readers will be happy to follow along with each step, from picking out the perfect specimen at the pumpkin patch (be sure to stop for cider and toffee apples) to carting it home, scooping out the insides, carving a scary face, and finally lighting a candle inside -- savoring the familiar ritual of transforming an ordinary pumpkin into a one-of-a-kind glowing jack-o'-lantern.
Skeleton for Dinner
Big Witch and Little Witch have made stew, and now they want to have their friends for dinner! But when Skeleton mistakes the guest list for a menu, he takes off running, and soon Ghost and Ghoul join him too! But poor Little Witch has no idea there’s a misunderstanding. Luckily there’s one creature in the haunted forest who can help everyone figure it all out. This spooky and silly read-aloud is just right for Halloween.
I Want to Be a Witch
“When I grow up, I want to be a witch,” says a little girl. She would have a sparkly hat, a crystal ball, a wand to do spells, and of course, a broomstick. She definitely wouldn't cook up any smelly potions—and she probably wouldn't turn her brother into a frog. And spiders and bats? No way! Her companion would be her cat!
Vampire Boy's Good Night
When the sun goes down and everything is wonderfully cold and dark, a vampire boy and a little witch go searching for children in the night.
But this is no ordinary night. It is Halloween, and what they find may surprise them. . . .
A Halloween story with just the right amount of spookiness for preschoolers.
Trick or treat,
line the street.
It's Halloween night! The rising moon lights the way for trick-or-treaters and sets the mood for a spooky celebration where imagination rules.
Award-winning author/artist Denise Fleming turns her talents to every child's favorite holiday.
Snuggle up and enjoy this impish tale perfect for little goblins everywhere. With rhyming text and Jackie’s signature style of illustration, fans of Julia Donaldson’s Room on the Broom and Linda D. Williams’s The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything will be captivated by this spirited story just right for reading aloud.
When old Goblin Moon rises on Halloween night, mischievous goblins come out with delight.
They dance and swoon, they whoop and play,till one little girl helps them find their way!
Not Very Scary
Melly is a brave little monster who is not afraid of anything. She loves surprises, and when her fun-loving cousin invites her over for a big surprise, Melly excitedly sets out for a visit. On her way, she notices skittish skeletons, a coal-black cat, and even ghoulish goblins following her. But Melly is not scared, no she's not! Well, maybe just a teensy bit . . .
Talk About: COVID-19
When the World Feels Like a Scary Place
"A terrific book for parents who want to know how to talk about difficult, emotional issues with children."––Nancy Eisenberg, Regents' Professor of Psychology, Arizona State University
Includes how to talk to your kids about COVID-19.
In a lifesaving guide for parents, Dr. Abigail Gewirtz shows how to use the most basic tool at your disposal––conversation––to give children real help in dealing with the worries, stress, and other negative emotions caused by problems in the world, from active shooter drills to climate change.
But it's not just how to talk to your kids, it's also what to say: The heart of When the World Feels Like a Scary Place is a series of conversation scripts––with actual dialogue, talking points, prompts, and insightful asides––that are each age-appropriate and centered around different issues. Along the way are tips about staying calm in an anxious world; the way children react to stress, and how parents can read the signs; and how parents can make sure that their own anxiety doesn't color the conversation. Talking and listening are essential for nurturing resilient, confident, and compassionate children. And conversation will help you manage your anxieties too, offering a path of wholeness and security for everyone in the family.
A Little SPOT Stays Home
A simple guide in the form of a conversation about how germs spread, how viruses can cause pandemics, and why washing hands and observing social distancing is important.
Not Forever But For Now
A picture book to help your child process their feelings during the social distancing of the pandemic.
The Social Distance King
The Social Distance King sensitively introduces the topic of social distancing to kids. With recent changes in the world, we all find ourselves living...differently. The Social Distance King is a great way to entertain children and also expose them to what social distancing might mean to them. And kids, most importantly, this book helps us learn in a FUN, entertaining and thoughtful way!
Perry and Steve's New Normal
Our world changed in the blink of an eye. COVID-19 has brought adjustments to our lives that were unimaginable just a short time ago. For children, these new behaviors and restrictions are confusing and unsettling. Follow along as Perry tries to help his son, Steve, make sense of all the changes while offering hope that healthier days are ahead. The story presents an opportunity for parents to have discussions about the importance of safe health practices, while providing assurance to children that they will be SAFE and LOVED, even during a global pandemic.
Through a child's eyes, the world may seem chaotic with coronavirus (COVID19), masks, and social distancing. Masked Ninja explains what's going on in our current pandemic and shows us actionable steps we can take to prevent the spread of viruses and racism.
An honest and hopeful discussion about uncertainty. A book to help guardians and kids work through difficult events in an open, compassionate manner.
Fight the Germs
On her birthday, Mona was simply not allowed to have a party because of the whole lockdown situation!! She had been anxiously looking forward to opening her presents and sharing her cake with friends!2020 Lockdown has truly changed the way in which we live our day-to-day lives, disrupting health, work, and social activities.While it is a confusing and uncertain time for us as adults, one can only imagine what it must be like for the children who cannot quite grasp the gravity of the situation.When will they next see their friends and have birthday parties?When will they be able to play in the park again?Why do they have to wash their hands so frequently?Comfort your child and carefully answer all of their questions by using the easy-to-follow story in this book. Let them know what is going on in the world, keeping them safe without leaving them scared.This story is designed to promote positivity, knowledge, and hope for your young ones.
The Day My Kids Stayed Home
The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has created massive disruption in kids' lives around the world. As adults it's our responsibility to learn about this virus and to keep our communities safe. This book is meant to help parents and teachers discuss COVID-19 with children and teach them about the virus and how we can stay healthy. Things are scarier when we don't understand them. The first half of the book is a kid's book that tells the story of two puppies learning about COVID-19; the second half is meant for adults and is a short explanation of what is happening and what we can do about it.
After reading the back half you will be ready to discuss COVID-19
with your kids. Remember, together we can beat this.
Suddenly, masks are everywhere. Are your kids confused and anxious about wearing a mask? Lucy's world turned upside down. She's bored. She can't be together with her friends. But when she finds out her mom is making her a new mask her boredom turns into excitement. Lucy loves masks! She dives into her toy box full of costumes and opens a world of imagination and make-believe adventure, far beyond the walls of her room. Of course, she doesn't realize that the mask her mom is making is not a costume at all but one that will keep her safe and make her a real-life superhero.For parents, grandparents and teachers searching for stories that give kids comfort and reassurance about the sudden changes around them, Lucy's Mask is a welcome new addition to reading time. This book is not a science lesson. It's a simple fun story that helps kids make sense of their emotions and makes this new reality more relatable and less scary. It is a wonderful tool to continue the conversation about germs, viruses, the pandemic, and what families have to do to keep themselves safe.A portion of proceeds from sales of Lucy's Mask will be donated to frontline workers and first responders.
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