Best Spooky Bedtime Books For Kids Who Love Scary Stories

Best Spooky Bedtime Books For Kids Who Love Scary Stories

My kids absolutely love scary stories, even at bedtime! They’re in first and second grade, so while we’re still very mindful about what’s read to them before bed, they love spooky books. Both my husband and I grew up with the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books. If you’ve been on my site at all, you’ll quickly realize we love Halloween just a wee bit. While our kids love spooky books too, we didn’t want to traumatize them with the Scary Stories series, as it’s for far older kids.

Best Spooky Bedtime Books For Kids Who Love Scary Stories

We always make it a priority to read to the kids before bed, and so we’ve accumulated quite a few kids’ horror books. Scouring both Amazon and the Scholastic book order for frightening fare is just second nature.

The following are our favorite spooky bedtime books for kids who love scary stories but who are too young for actual scary stories. These are the books that are on constant repeat at bedtime, with the worn covers and dog-eared pages. I’m certain your own children will enjoy these spooky bedtime books.

Disclaimer: I’m an Amazon affiliate and the following links may be affiliate links through which I can earn commission should you make a purchase.

Scary books for younger kids

When Halloween starts to creep around, our nighttime book schedule changes to a spooky theme. Some of our favorites from when the kids were younger are still in rotation today. These are fun books with just a tinge of spookiness, that even littles can enjoy.

The Scary Book by Joanna Cole

There is another book out there also called “The Scary Book” but it’s not this one. Admittedly, this is an older title that doesn’t appear to have any newer printings, but you can still find it online.

The stories are not significantly scary – many are cute actually, and these are classics you probably read as a kid. Regardless, they still hold up and your kids will love them, too.

See on Amazon

We’re Going on a Ghost Hunt

Who doesn’t love a ghost hunt? Structured like the classic “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” book (and others like it), this is a fun, atmospheric Halloween story. The pictures are big, beautiful, and equally fun for kids in preschool into middle school.

The repetitive nature of the sentence structure is really good for early readers, too. My daughter loved this book when she was in kindergarten, as it gave her a fun way to practice her reading.

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Ghosts in the House!

With big, cute pictures and bright black-and-orange coloring, this was a favorite when our kids were younger. A young witch has a ghost problem and, instead of being scared, solves it herself. It’s perfectly Halloween-themed, cute, and quite a bit of fun.

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The Little Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid Of Anything

This one is a classic – if you’re around my age, it was probably a library favorite. I remember having a copy that had the hardcover hanging off, but I still made it work. I feel certain that your children will love it as much as mine do (and as much as I did, too!) She swallowed a fly, and some coal, and a ton of other things, so it should be obvious that this little old lady isn’t afraid of anything. In this book, she proves it by taking a spooky walk through the autumn woods. A great addition to any “Little Old Lady” collection, but perfect for the spookiest time of year as well.

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Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

We love this book because it’s perfect for two seasons – we read it as Halloween approaches and again during Hanukkah and Christmas. It’s got the perfect mix of a compelling story and, well, goblins! The illustrations are some of my daughter’s favorites, as they’re not the cartoony type that you normally see in children’s books.

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Scary books for reading along

If you’re looking for creepy books for first graders, or those who are learning to follow along, what follows should be perfect. They’re spooky but not so, and they match early reading development perfectly. Some of these were my kids’ first stories they read by themselves (we’re a spooky family, what can I say?)

Short Scary Stories To Read Together

These stories are just perfectly creepy and designed to be read with mom or dad. They’re wonderfully illustrated as well, and encourage recognition of words and sounds for early readers. Older kids, they’ll be able to read these stories with little difficulty and without scaring themselves too much (just a bit!)

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Bone Soup

I love the illustrations on this one, probably because I grew up with Nightmare Before Christmas. The story is cute and extremely atmospheric for Halloween; my kids love it. Finnegan the skeleton travels across the land with his spoon and bowl, always looking for something new and delicious to eat, which leads him to a new place for a Halloween feast. You and your kids will love this spooky but sweet story.

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Creepy Pair of Underwear

Want to spook your six and seven-year-olds and make them laugh? Read a book about creepy, glow-in-the-dark undies. They’re going to have a great time with the Halloween fun and underwear-centric jokes in this classic. If you’re looking for a book with humor, Halloween spirit, and bunnies (with creepy undies), this is a perfect choice.

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Ten Timid Ghosts

Like other classic children’s books, this one follows a numeric formula that makes it an easier read for kids. As the witch takes over the ghosts’ house, she gets increasingly crafty trying to scare them away. But after a while, they realize it’s up to them to save Halloween and their home. It’s fun, cute, and your kids will have a blast noticing all the small, hidden details in every picture.

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Room on the Broom

This is probably my daughter’s favorite book of all time and close to one of mine! If you’ve not read this book, it’s an ABSOLUTE MUST BUY…like right now. Stop reading and just get it. While it’s not strictly a Halloween book, it’s got some spooky-season themes that are a ton of fun. The rhyming scheme is easy to learn and helps foster reading ability as well and the illustrations are timelessly wonderful. It’s a truly fun book that’s sure to become a family favorite.

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Big Pumpkin

Last Halloween, the witch planted a pumpkin to make a pumpkin pie, but now it’s enormous and she can’t move it. My son loves how this story builds on the input of each spooky character trying to help the witch resolve her pumpkin problem. The illustrations and story are both classics and I love this book just as much now as I did when I was a child. I also really love the theme of teamwork throughout!

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Scary stories for second graders

These books are getting into more frightening territory. The happy witches and smiling pumpkins are gone, replaced by actual horror and longer stories. Some of these you might remember from your childhood, and others are newer ones we’ve discovered recently. Regardless, these scary books are perfect for second graders and older kids who are reading on their own.

Of course, they might want to read them with you, too, though they may not admit it.

In a Dark, Dark Room

One of the best spooky story anthologies that exist, In a Dark, Dark Room was one of my favorites as a kid. You probably remember the story of the girl with the green ribbon around her neck; it’s classic kid reading material. That story along with many others sits in this book to tingle your spine and make you shiver. Be sure to come back next Halloween, as I’m definitely planning the green ribbon costume to fit my frugal Halloween needs.

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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

You surely thought these stories were going to be on this list, didn’t you? The illustrations alone are enough to evoke nightmares in even the bravest of souls. The boxed set comes with all three spine-chilling books, which is great because once you finish one, you’ll want to go to the next immediately. These books are the foundation of scary childhood literature.

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Took: A Ghost Story

This is easily one of the best children’s books I’ve ever read; it’s atmospheric and the story builds tension masterfully. My second grader can read it quite easily on his own, too, which makes it a great read-alone book that won’t freak them out too much. If your child loves scary stories and is good at reading alone, Took is a great choice.

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Haunted Kids: True Ghost Stories

I have to preface this entry by saying this suggestion comes from my husband, who said this book terrified him as a child. The fact that the stories are “true” adds a layer of “this could happen to me” which makes things even spookier. Since it’s told from the point of view of the kids who experienced the hauntings, it makes them relatable and perhaps more believable.

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Out to Get You

I love these story collections but unfortunately, a lot of the ones in the last 10 years or so try too hard to be Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Not so, with this one; Out to Get You has unique, wonderful spooky stories that thrill. I highly recommend this scary book for middle-schoolers to read by themselves, but it’s also fun to read along with your kids.

See on Amazon

Scary stories are a childhood favorite

Everyone loves to be scared – it’s a wonderful little thrill. Kids, in particular, seem to relish being spooked, when they know they’re safe. These are some of my favorite scary stories for kids, and while it’s not an exhaustive list, I think you and your children will be pleasantly surprised and scared.

Do you have a favorite spooky bedtime book that you love that I missed? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!




Why I Follow the Montessori(ish) Method

Why I Follow the Montessori(ish) Method

Despite being over 100 years old, the Montessori Method seems to be gaining in popularity. It’s no wonder, though – Montessori has a lot to offer! While I wouldn’t say I’m a strict Montessori mom, there are definitely pieces of the Montessori philosophies that I have incorporated into our lives, even when my children were babies.

What is the Montessori method?

The Montessori method was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in 1907. Italy’s first female doctor, Dr. Montessori opened the Casa dei Bambini as a way to provide education to low-income children in Rome. Instead of using traditional teaching methods though, Dr. Montessori decided to test her own educational theories in the classroom. These eventually developed into the child,-centered educational theories we now most commonly know as the Montessori Method. 

Isn’t Montessori only for rich people?

When I first looked at potentially sending my children to a Montessori preschool in our area, the tuition floored me. I had heard that Montessori was expensive, but yikes…

Deciding I neither wanted to sell my kidneys nor commit wire fraud, I felt the next best thing was to start to incorporate Montessori at home.

It was when I was researching Montessori that I learned about Maria Montessori, developing her teaching methods in some of the poorest districts in Italy. It’s interesting that while modern Montessori schools tend to be pricey, the roots of this teaching style are the exact opposite of elitist.

Incorporating Montessori at Home

In the interest of being thrifty, the idea of going out and buying a bunch of furniture/toys/supplies that was supposedly “Montessori” didn’t sit well with me. This is where the Montessori(ISH) comes into play as I began to incorporate Montessori without going all in.

Keeping Things Accessible

With Montessori, I loved the idea of children being independent and free to learn/explore at their own pace. So even as babies, I let my children guide the way (while keeping them safe, of course!)

By following their lead, they were able to learn in a way that kept them excited and curious. In Montessori, this is called having a “prepared environment.”

What is a Montessori Prepared Environment?

A prepared environment is Dr. Montessori’s idea that a child’s surroundings can be designed to allow for maximum independent learning and exploration by the child. 

The 6 main elements include:

  • Freedom
  • Structure and order
  • Beauty
  • Nature and reality
  • Social environment
  • Intellectual environment

Basically it’s the idea that you create space for your child that is meaningfully structured. Everything within their space should have a purpose and nothing should be such that it’s overwhelming to the child.

Do Montessori children play pretend?

Research shows that children under the age of six have a hard time distinguishing between fantasy and reality. This is why it’s so easy for children to believe in the idea of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc.

As such, Montessori encourages play to be rooted in reality. Think actually baking cookies rather than “playing restaurant”.

Personally, while I appreciate the concept, this is again where I don’t necessarily go all in when it comes to Montessori.

Playing School

Here’s a great example of why I think one can pull from Montessori without necessarily being strict with it.

My kids have always been very into playing baby dolls, which is technically discouraged by Montessori, but never by me.

My daughter is now in first grade, and still very much plays with her baby dolls. But now, every day after school and for a lot of the time on the weekends, she plays school with her dolls. She teaches them exactly what it is. She learned in school that week. From her hundreds chart and other mathematical facts to grace and courtesy and being kind to one another.

She is unknowingly reinforcing that which she is learning. Completely on her own…well unless you count the dolls. 😉

It’s a great example of how Montessori and traditional schooling can overlap in a beautiful way.

Discipline in Montessori

I was very blessed in that my children ended up at a preschool that – like me – is Montessori(ISH). 

And one of the first concepts that was instilled at this preschool is the idea of positive reinforcement and conscious discipline.

As someone who was raised by a yeller, I knew that was never the kind of mom I wanted to be.

So while I was very cognizant of the tone and words I would use with my children, the Montessori(ish) preschool that my kids went to helped further develop that skill set.

When it comes to discipline within the Montessori method, it’s true in that punishment isn’t a part of the experience. There are no timeouts or groundings. Instead, it is on the parents or other adults in the child’s life to model ideal behavior and gently guide the children back on track should they stray with misbehavior.

Leading by Example

I’ve always found it interesting that many adults seem to hold their children to a higher standard than they hold themselves. It’s this idea of the adults demanding respect, despite not showing it themselves… Which is probably a whole ‘nother blog post in and of itself. 

But how can we expect children to self-regulate with their emotions if we do not model how to do such? If we are constantly yelling, why would the children not then do the same? If we name call, gossip, degrade ourselves or others… Children will of course mirror those behaviors.

In that same vein, though, when we lead with kindness, children will follow suit.

And that’s a big part of the Montessori method that I’ve always found to be the most attractive – It’s on the adults to model ideal behavior to children and to use kind, respectful words to show children how to take care of themselves, their possessions, and the world around them. 

Being Montessori-Ish

No matter the age of your child, it’s worth looking into Montessori and pulling from it that which you might find useful in how your parenting. Because keep in mind – Montessori is a collection of theories and principles, it’s not a list of hard and fast rules that you must follow in order to “be the best.”

When it comes down to it, Montessori is about following your child’s lead. Even if you enroll your children in traditional schooling, as I did mine, there’s much to be said about how Montessori can support their education outside of school.

I’m absolutely going to take a minute to brag on my own children, in that they are two of the brightest, most incredible kids. They love to learn. Their reading levels far surpass those of their peers. They are brilliantly creative in ways that blow my mind each and every single day. I fully expect them to have a better grasp on mathematical concepts than I do in the next year or two… Hehe though to be fair, I was in English major, math has never been my strong suit. 

You can be Montessori(ish) and still reap so many of the benefits that come with following the Montessori Method. Believe me when I say that doing so will not only benefit your children, but your family as a whole. 

Above all else – have fun with it!

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