Not Too Scary Stories

Do you like things that are scary, but not too scary? These fun and spooky stories may be a little bit creepy, and they may feature ghosts or monsters, but they won't keep you up at night. 

Compiled by:
Children's Services staff
Picture Books and Younger Elementary
Beneath the Bed and Other Scary Stories

Max Brallier
(Juvenile Early Readers - J-ER Bra)
Series: Mr. Shivers

A creepy doll in the attic. A hair stuck in your throat. A statue that moves in the night. Toys that don’t like being left outside. A scratching at your bedroom window. These are the subjects of five tales that will give you...the shivers! Part of the Mister Shivers series. Recommended for ages 5–7.

Creepy Crayon!

Aaron Reynolds
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Rey)
Series: Creepy Tales

Jasper Rabbit is struggling in school when he finds a pointy purple crayon. Soon after, Jasper aces his spelling test and wins the poster contest for his purple drawing! But how much credit does the crayon deserve? Can Jasper get rid of the creepy crayon before it’s too late? This morality tale with black and white illustrations evokes The Twilight Zone. Follow Jasper Rabbit’s other eerie tales in Creepy Carrots! and A Creepy Pair of Underwear! Recommended for ages 4–7.

Fox at Night

Corey R. Tabor
(Juvenile Early Readers - J-ER Tab)
Series: Fox Books

The night is full of monsters, or so thinks Fox. While camping at night, Fox patrols outside to see if the things he sees, hears, and smells are monsters after all. Part of the Geisel award-winning Fox series. Recommended for ages 4–8.

Ghosts in the House!

Kazuno Kohara
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Koh)

A young witch moves into a haunted house filled with ghosts, but she knows just what to do! Kohara tells a charming, simple story where everybody gets a happy ending. The black-and-orange art contrasts with the textured white of the ghosts to make a visually interesting picture book that looks like nothing else on the shelves! Recommended for ages 2–6.

Hardly Haunted

Jessie Sima
(Juvenile Holiday - Ej Sim)

A house on a hill suspects it may be haunted since no people live there. The doors creak, the stairs squeak, and the pipes rattle through the night. With its gentle humor and whimsical point of view, this book will impart a heartwarming message about embracing one’s unique qualities. Recommended for ages 4–8.

How to Make Friends with a Ghost

Rebecca Green
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Gre)

This helpful guidebook is useful for anyone looking to create a lifelong (and beyond) friendship with a ghost! Tips include:

  1. Never put your hand through a ghost (it can cause a serious tummy ache).
  2. Feed your ghost with treats like moldy toast and pickled boogers.
  3. Sing to your ghost in eerie hums and wails.

Befriending ghosts, just like befriending people, requires patience, understanding, and empathy. Recommended for ages 5–8.

Leo: A Ghost Story

Mac Barnett
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Bar)

Leo the invisible ghost lives by himself in an old house. He’s happy when a family moves in, but he feels rejected when the family is scared of ghosts. He finally finds a friend with a girl named Jane, and they play together and even stop a robbery! Retro cutout artwork makes the book visually interesting and highlights Leo’s loneliness from being invisible. Recommended for ages 3–6.

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

Linda Williams
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Wi)

One autumn night, while walking in the woods, a little old lady begins to hear eerie sounds. Luckily, this little old lady is not afraid of anything! But will she lose her nerve when the noises follow her home? A classic read aloud favorite for the spooky season! Recommended for ages 3–6.

Los Gatos Black on Halloween

Marisa Montes
(Juvenile Holiday - Ej Mo)

This spooky rhyming picture book describes monsters gathering together at a haunted casa for a ball. Bilingual text mixes in Spanish terms with English words for easy understanding. Surreal illustrations create a creepy atmosphere, but a funny ending relieves any pent up tension! Recommended for ages 4–8.

Never Kick a Ghost and Other Silly Chillers

Judy Sierra
(Juvenile Early Readers - J-ER Sie)

The subjects of this lighthearted collection of ghost stories and rhymes range from a long long pirate bride to a big slobbery monster. Cartoonish illustrations highlight the comedy of spooky situations so even the easily scared can enjoy these tales! Recommended for ages 4–8.

Room on the Broom

Julia Donaldson
(Juvenile Holiday - Baby Book)

A witch flying on her broom is soon joined by a number of animal helpers. She makes room on the broom for everyone, but what happens when the broom breaks? A fun, rhyming tale that culminates in a surprising (but not too scary) ending. Recommended for ages 4–8.

There’s a Ghost in this House

Oliver Jeffers
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Jef)

In this unique and quirky book, ghosts appear before your eyes at the turn of a page! Follow a girl through a haunted house as she looks for ghosts in each room. Translucent pages reveal mischievous ghosts hiding, playing, and even drinking tea! Recommended for ages 4–8.

Vampire Baby

Elias Barks
(Juvenile Holiday - Baby Book)
Series: Hazy Dell Flap Books

Who’s at the castle on Halloween night? It’s Vampire Baby in the candlelight! Small children will enjoy lifting the flaps to see Vampire Baby and his monster friends playing around their gothic castle. This board book is a cute introduction to classic monsters. Recommended for ages birth–3.

Older Elementary
The Ghost Tree

Natasha Deen
(Juvenile First Chapter Books - J-FC Deen)
Series: Spooky Sleuths

Fourth graders Asim, Rokshar, and Max choose to investigate a creepy cemetery for their class science project. There they discover an evil ghost tree straight out of Guyanese folklore! Will these spooky sleuths be able to save their possessed teacher and stop the tree from consuming everything? Recommended for ages 6–10.

The Haunted House Next Door

Andres Miedoso
(Juvenile First Chapter Books - J-FC Miedoso)
Series: Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol

Andres Miedoso and his family just moved into a normal, boring neighborhood in a normal, boring town. Soon, he’s waking up with strange cold chills, his furniture keeps mysteriously rearranging, and his family’s silverware turns into a scary giant man! Lucky for the nervous Andres, his neighbor is Desmond Cole—a professional ghost hunter! This first book in the Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol series provides mysteries, chills, and laughs that will make you want to check out the next installment. Recommended for ages 5–9.

The Haunted Library

Dori Hillestad Butler
(Juvenile First Chapter Books - J-FC Butler)
Series: Haunted Library

Kaz is a young ghost who gets separated from his ghost family and finds a new haunt at a local library. He soon befriends Claire, a human with the ability to see ghosts. Kaz and Claire must work together to find Kaz’s family and investigate the mystery of another haunting at the library. A fast-paced first chapter book that features friendly ghosts and a fun mystery. Recommended for ages 7–10.

In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories

Alvin Schwartz
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 398.208 Sch)

Alvin Schwartz, author of the terrifying Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, retells several creepy stories from folklore in this collection for younger readers. “When there is no real danger,” Schwartz writes, “feeling scared is fun.” Classic stories like The Green Ribbon and In a Dark, Dark Room provide mild frights, while others, like In the Graveyard and The Pirate end with a laugh. Fans of this book may also enjoy Ghosts!: Ghostly Tales from Folklore, another nonfiction easy reader by Schwartz. Recommended for ages 5–8.

Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep

Jack Prelutsky
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 811.54 Pre)

The poems in this classic collection feature vampires, trolls, ghouls, skeletons, and more. Evocative descriptions, such as the “desiccated limbs” of a witch and the “matted hair and jaws that tear” of a werewolf will give readers goosebumps. Chilling illustrations by Arthur Lobel feature the fearsome creatures and often include wandering children unaware of their gruesome fate. While the poems may not be scary enough to give kids actual nightmares, they’re still creepy enough to remind readers that monsters can be deadly. Recommended for ages 9–12.

The Skull: A Tyrolean Folktale

Jon Klassen
(Juvenile First Chapter Books - J-FC Klassen)

A brave girl named Otilla runs away and finds an abandoned mansion in the woods. There, she meets a talking skull hiding from something spooky that visits the house each night. Jon Klassen’s illustrations create a somber and eerie atmosphere, and his sparse writing allows the reader to imagine their own explanations for the mysteries within this old folktale. Recommended for ages 6–9.

Things in the Basement

Ben Hatke
(Juvenile Graphic Novels - J-GN Hatke Things in the Basement)

The basement in the new family house is scary to Milo, but he bravely ventures down looking for his baby sister’s special sock. When he finds a hidden door, he realizes the basement is not as small—or as empty—as he thought. Milo must face his fears in this imaginative and unpredictable quest into the unknown. Recommended for ages 9–12.