Summer Scares for Middle Grade

Do you love Halloween? Are you tired of waiting all year for the spooky season?

Have no fear, for the Horror Writers Association has you covered! HWA (in partnership with United for Libraries, Book Riot, and Booklist) offers Summer Scares, a booklist of horror recommendations for all ages. Plano Public Library gives you access to all of these titles and more. Check out the 2022 Summer Scares for middle grade readers below!

The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown (Print; eBook)

On a cold winter night, Iris and her best friend, Daniel, sneak into a clearing in the woods to play in the freshly fallen snow. There, Iris carefully makes a perfect snow angel — only to find the crumbling gravestone of a young girl, Avery Moore, right beneath her.

Immediately, strange things start to happen to Iris: She begins having vivid nightmares. She wakes up to find her bedroom window wide open, letting in the snow. She thinks she sees the shadow of a girl lurking in the woods. And she feels the pull of the abandoned grave, calling her back to the clearing…

Obsessed with figuring out what’s going on, Iris and Daniel start to research the area for a school project. They discover that Avery’s grave is actually part of a neglected and forgotten Black cemetery, dating back to a time when White and Black people were kept separate in life — and in death. As Iris and Daniel learn more about their town’s past, they become determined to restore Avery’s grave and finally have proper respect paid to Avery and the others buried there.

But they have awakened a jealous and demanding ghost, one that’s not satisfied with their plans for getting recognition. One that is searching for a best friend forever — no matter what the cost.

The Forgotten Girl is both a spooky original ghost story and a timely and important storyline about reclaiming an abandoned segregated cemetery.


Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker (Print; eBook; eAudio)

The haunted season has arrived in the Antler Wood. No fox kit is safe.

When Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they discover a dangerous world full of monsters. In order to find a den to call home, they must venture through field and forest, facing unspeakable things that dwell in the darkness: a zombie who hungers for their flesh, a witch who tries to steal their skins, a ghost who hunts them through the snow . . . and other things too scary to mention.

Featuring eight interconnected stories and sixteen hauntingly beautiful illustrations, Scary Stories for Young Foxes contains the kinds of adventures and thrills you love to listen to beside a campfire in the dark of night. Fans of Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Auxier, and R. L. Stine have found their next favorite book.


Beetle & the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne (Print)

An enchanting, riotous, and playfully illustrated debut graphic novel following a young goblin trying to save her best friend from the haunted mall–perfect for fans of Steven Universe and Adventure Time.

In the eerie town of ‘Allows, some people get to be magical sorceresses, while other people have their spirits trapped in the mall for all ghastly eternity.

Then there’s twelve-year-old goblin-witch Beetle, who’s caught in between. She’d rather skip being homeschooled completely and spend time with her best friend, Blob Glost. But the mall is getting boring, and B.G. is cursed to haunt it, tethered there by some unseen force. And now Beetle’s old best friend, Kat, is back in town for a sorcery apprenticeship with her Aunt Hollowbone. Kat is everything Beetle wants to be: beautiful, cool, great at magic, and kind of famous online. Beetle’s quickly being left in the dust.

But Kat’s mentor has set her own vile scheme in motion. If Blob Ghost doesn’t escape the mall soon, their afterlife might be coming to a very sticky end. Now, Beetle has less than a week to rescue her best ghost, encourage Kat to stand up for herself, and confront the magic she’s been avoiding for far too long. And hopefully ride a broom without crashing.

Plano Public Library has much to offer for horror book lovers. Explore some of our favorite titles and authors below, all available at a PPL location near you!

Enter if you dare:

Vacancy by K. R. Alexander (Print; eBook; eAudio)

When Jasmine moves to Gold River after her mother’s death, she finds herself powerfully drawn to the Carlisle, an abandoned hotel on the edge of town. It appears in her nightmares and calls to her during the day.

It’s a local tradition in Gold River for kids to try to stay a night in the Carlisle without being scared away. When Jasmine hears about this, she convinces her friends to join her. How hard can it be to stay up all night in an abandoned old building?

Only… the building isn’t abandoned. There are plenty of people staying there — dead people. And once you walk into the hotel, they will do everything possible to stop you from checking out.

The Ash House by Angharad Walker (Print)

When Eleven-year-old Sol arrives at the Ash House, desperate for a cure for his complex pain syndrome, he finds a community of strange children long abandoned by their mysterious Headmaster.

The children at the Ash House want the new boy to love their home as much as they do. They give him a name like theirs. They show him the dorms and tell him about the wonderful oasis that the Headmaster has created for them. But the new boy already has a name. Doesn’t he? At least he did before he walked through those gates…

This was supposed to be a healing refuge for children like him. Something between a school and a summer camp. With kids like him. With pain like his. But no one is allowed to get sick at the Ash House. NO ONE.

And then The Doctor arrives…


A spine-chilling twist on a familiar game:

Hide and Seeker by Daka Hermon (Print; eBook; eAudio)

One of our most iconic childhood games receives a creepy twist as it becomes the gateway to a nightmare world. I went up the hill, the hill was muddy, stomped my toe and made it bloody, should I wash it? Justin knows that something is wrong with his best friend. Zee went missing for a year. And when he came back, he was . . . different. Nobody knows what happened to him. At Zee’s welcome home party, Justin and the neighborhood crew play Hide and Seek. But it goes wrong. Very wrong. One by one, everyone who plays the game disappears, pulled into a world of nightmares come to life. Justin and his friends realize this horrible place is where Zee had been trapped. All they can do now is hide from the Seeker.


Spooky monsters:

Dark Waters by Katherine Arden (Print; eBook; eAudio)

Until next time. That was chilling promise made to Ollie, Coco and Brian after they outsmarted the smiling man at Mount Hemlock Resort. And as the trio knows, the smiling man always keeps his promises. So when the lights flicker on and off at Brian’s family’s inn and a boom sounds at the door, there’s just one visitor it could be. Only, there’s no one there, just a cryptic note left outside signed simply as –S.

The smiling man loves his games, and it seems a new one is afoot. But first, the three friends will have to survive a group trip to Lake Champlain where it’s said Vermont’s very own Loch Ness monster lives. When they’re left shipwrecked on an island haunted by a monster on both land and sea, Brian’s survival instincts kick in and it’s up to him to help everyone work together and find a way to escape.

One thing is for sure, the smiling man is back and he wants a rematch. And this time Brian is ready to play.


Witches and magic galore:

Snapdragon by Kat Leyh (Print; eBook)

Snap’s town had a witch. At least, that’s how the rumor goes. But in reality, Jacks is just a crocks-wearing, internet-savvy old lady who sells roadkill skeletons online–after doing a little ritual to put their spirits to rest. It’s creepy, sure, but Snap thinks it’s kind of cool, too. They make a deal: Jacks will teach Snap how to take care of the baby opossums that Snap rescued, and Snap will help Jacks with her work. But as Snap starts to get to know Jacks, she realizes that Jacks may in fact have real magic–and a connection with Snap’s family’s past.

Root Magic by Eden Royce (Print; eAudio)

It’s 1963, and things are changing for Jezebel Turner. Her beloved grandmother has just passed away. The local police deputy won’t stop harassing her family. With school integration arriving in South Carolina, Jez and her twin brother, Jay, are about to begin the school year with a bunch of new kids. But the biggest change comes when Jez and Jay turn eleven– and their uncle, Doc, tells them he’s going to train them in rootwork.

Jez and Jay have always been fascinated by the African American folk magic that has been the legacy of their family for generations–especially the curious potions and powders Doc and Gran would make for the people on their island. But Jez soon finds out that her family’s true power goes far beyond small charms and elixirs…and not a moment too soon. Because when evil both natural and supernatural comes to show itself in town, it’s going to take every bit of the magic she has inside her to see her through.


Haunted history:

Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie (Print; eBook; eAudio)

Claire has absolutely no interest in the paranormal. She’s a scientist, which is why she can’t think of anything worse than having to help out her dad on one of his ghost-themed Chicago bus tours. She thinks she’s made it through when she sees a boy with a sad face and dark eyes at the back of the bus. There’s something off about his presence, especially because when she checks at the end of the tour…he’s gone.

Claire tries to brush it off, she must be imagining things, letting her dad’s ghost stories get the best of her. But then the scratching starts. Voices whisper to her in the dark. The number 396 appears everywhere she turns. And the boy with the dark eyes starts following her.

Claire is being haunted. The boy from the bus wants something…and Claire needs to find out what before it’s too late.


Ghosts: Eerie, delightful, and everything in between:

Bridge of Souls by Victoria Schwab (Print; eBook; eAudio)

Where there are ghosts, Cassidy Blake follows . . .

Unless it’s the other way around?

Cass thinks she might have this ghost-hunting thing down. After all, she and her ghost best friend, Jacob, have survived two haunted cities while traveling for her parents’ TV show.

But nothing can prepare Cass for New Orleans, which wears all of its hauntings on its sleeve. In a city of ghost tours and tombs, raucous music and all kinds of magic, Cass could get lost in all the colorful, grisly local legends. And the city’s biggest surprise is a foe Cass never expected to face: a servant of Death itself.

Ophie’s Ghosts by Justina Ireland (Print; eBook; eAudio)

Ophelia Harrison used to live in a small house in the Georgia countryside. But that was before the night in November 1922, and the cruel act that took her home and her father from her. Which was the same night that Ophie learned she can see ghosts.

Now Ophie and her mother are living in Pittsburgh with relatives they barely know. In the hopes of earning enough money to get their own place, Mama has gotten Ophie a job as a maid in the same old manor house where she works.

Daffodil Manor, like the wealthy Caruthers family who owns it, is haunted by memories and prejudices of the past–and, as Ophie discovers, ghosts as well. Ghosts who have their own loves and hatreds and desires, ghosts who have wronged others and ghosts who have themselves been wronged. And as Ophie forms a friendship with one spirit whose life ended suddenly and unjustly, she wonders if she might be able to help–even as she comes to realize that Daffodil Manor may hold more secrets than she bargained for.

Sheets by Brenna Thummler (Print; eBook)

Marjorie Glatt feels like a ghost. A practical thirteen-year-old in charge of the family laundry business, her daily routine features unforgiving customers, unbearable P.E. classes, and the fastidious Mr. Saubertuck who is committed to destroying everything she’s worked for. Wendell is a ghost. A boy who lost his life much too young, his daily routine features ineffective death therapy, a sheet-dependent identity, and a dangerous need to seek purpose in the forbidden human world. When their worlds collide, Marjorie is confronted by unexplainable disasters as Wendell transforms Glatt’s Laundry into his midnight playground, appearing as a mere sheet during the day. While Wendell attempts to create a new afterlife for himself, he unknowingly sabotages the life that Marjorie is struggling to maintain.

Sheets illustrates the determination of a young girl to fight, even when all parts of her world seem to be conspiring against her. It proves that second chances are possible whether life feels over or life is over. But above all, it is a story of the forgiveness and unlikely friendship that can only transpire inside a haunted laundromat.


Short stories perfect for reading at night:

Hide and Don’t Seek: And Other Very Scary Stories by Anica Mrose Rissi (Print; eBook; eAudio)

A contemporary collection of original short stories by Anica Mrose Rissi that is sure to elicit chills, laughs, and screams, even from the most devoted fans of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark!

A game of hide-and-seek goes on far too long…

A look-alike doll makes itself right at home…

A school talent-show act leaves the audience aghast…

And a summer at camp takes a turn for the braaaains…

This collection of all-new spooky stories is sure to keep readers up past their bedtimes, looking over their shoulders to see what goes bump in the night.

So, if you’re feeling brave, turn the page.

Only If You Dare: 13 Stories of Darkness and Doom by Josh Allen (Print)

Thirteen chilling short stories to keep you up at night–but only if you dare.

You never know what’s out to get you. Though you might think you’re safe from monsters and menaces, everyday objects can turn against you, too. A mysterious microwave. A threatening board game. A snowman that refuses to melt. Even your own heartbeat has its secrets. Thu-thump. Thu-thump. When you stop to listen, each beat sounds more menacing than the last.

Master storyteller Josh Allen brings thirteen nightmare scenarios to life in this page-turning collection that’s perfect for budding horror junkies. In his wondrous world, danger waits behind every doorway . . . even in the most ordinary places.

Each summer, the HWA releases a curated list of horror titles for adults, young adults, and middle grade readers. Highlighting horror books “introduces readers and librarians to new authors and helps start conversations extending beyond the books from each list and promotes reading for years to come” (HWA, Summer Scares).

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