6 Nostalgic Stories to Read in the Dark

As a child, I loved the annual book fair at my library. There was something for everyone- from chapter books about ballerinas to posters of racecars and the coolest mechanical pencils ever. I always went home with a tall stack of personal favorites- the spookiest stories on offer for an elementary school reader. From the frequently frightening Babysitter's Club Mystery specials to the thrilling tales of teenagers, ghosts, and murder written by Christopher Pike- they totally turned me into a lifelong fan of the horror genre. 

Get ready for Halloween by returning to some of your childhood nightmares... if you dare. Feeling brave? Read them alone by flashlight in a cozy pillow fort. Want to get your friends in on the fun? Pass them around at your next party or sleepover and take turns reading. Either way- here are six perfect picks to keep you up at night. Bonus points: follow them up with an Are you Afraid of the Dark binge-watching marathon.

Say Cheese and Die!

In the world of scary stories for younger readers, R.L. Stine remains the reigning king. It's hard to pick just one book from the epic Goosebumps series but The Haunted Mask, Welcome to Camp Nightmare, and Night of the Living Dummy stand out as childhood favorites. I would eventually move on to the adolescent excitement offered by Stine's Fear Street series but these were the ones that started my addiction to the genre.

More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

What was up with these horrifying book covers? Stylistically, these macabre pencil drawings have more in common with Eastern European movie posters than the standard juvenile chapter book art. If the illustrations didn't give you nightmares- the stories inside certainly would.

In A Dark, Dark Room, and Other Scary Stories

From the same author- this book contains a story that collectively haunts my generational cohort- about a girl with "The Green Ribbon" around her neck. To this day, I hear grown adults discuss this story in hushed tones at parties and the shared trauma that resulted from reading it. 

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Ray Bradbury is one of my favorite speculative fiction authors and many of his greatest short stories, (like "Let's Play Poison" and "All Summer in a Day") feature children and childhood as themes. This genre classic is the perfect one to start in late October, just as the novel does- when "the carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early."


Was this one even actually scary? I'll have to go back and re-read it to be sure, but I remember it holding a very special place in my heart. This was read aloud to my third-grade class and I couldn't wait to get to the bottom of the mystery of a vampire rabbit who sucked the juice out of vegetables.

The Witches

From the brilliant mind of Roald Dahl is the story of one young boy who faces off against witches who want to destroy the world's children and his adventure to do so after he (SPOILER ALERT) gets turned into a mouse. The Grand High Witch is performed with particular aplomb by the inimitable Angelica Houston in the live-action film adaption

Tell us in the comments- which scary stories did you love to read most as a kid?