Sharing scary & not-so-scary stories: Videos & books for early learners

By Children’s Librarian Shelley Harris

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” This quote by author Neil Gaiman is one I think about a lot when autumn comes and Halloween rolls around.

This is the time of year when our “Chills and Thrills” bin of picture books gets checked out the most, teachers take out stacks of Halloween books, and kids ask for mysteries and scary stories.

Even I love to be scared, within reason, during this month. Everyone has their own level of enjoyable scares: mine is higher than Miss Jenny’s, and much much lower than Miss Beronica’s! 

Some kids love to be scared the right amount, and others don’t want it at all. Caregivers should definitely follow their lead!

For kids who enjoy it, though, research has shown that there’s some benefit to scares. Capstone Publishing put out this article and infographic (pdf) highlighting how scary stories can help kids grow resilience, understanding, control, and confidence, and help kids determine fact from fiction. Dragons may not exist, but evil can be defeated!

Below find videos and books to help you share stories (scary or not-so-scary) together.

Watch these videos

Miss Jenny has some ideas on helping kids figure out their preferred scare level in this video.

Kids need help when learning what is real and not real. Some kids can get scared by some of Miss Jenny’s puppets, but seeing how they work makes them feel safe and ready to take the risk of touching one. See how Ruthie the Camel works in this video.

Share these stories

Looking for some gently scary stories to share with your little one all year long? Try these!

  • Creepy Carrots. The Twilight Zone comes to the carrot patch as a rabbit fears his favorite treats are out to get him. Jasper Rabbit loves carrots—especially Crackenhopper Field carrots. He eats them on the way to school. He eats them going to Little League. He eats them walking home. Until the day the carrots start following him…or are they?
  • Black Lagoon series. Imaginations run wild in this series, as kids wonder if their teachers, principles, doctors, and other grown-ups in their lives are human…or not.
  • Are You Scared, Darth Vader? Nothing can scare Lord Vader, right? Certainly not ghosts, witches, werewolves, or anything like that!
  • The Doghouse. Who will go get the ball that accidentally got kicked into THE DOGHOUSE? It’s impossible not to add an atmospheric “DUN DUN DUN” to those words.
  • The Dark. Laszlo stays upstairs and the Dark stays in the basement…usually.
  • Poesy the Monster Slayer. Poesy is a monster expert, thanks to her trusty toys and reference books. But what can she do about her sleep-deprived zombie parents?
Shelley Harris

About Shelley

Shelley is a children’s librarian with a passion for early literacy, serving and celebrating the disability community, and exploring technology. She can often be found practicing storytime songs with her black lab, Bingo.