Spirits & Ghosts in Middle School Fiction
Today’s Halloween attire runs the gamut from fairy tale characters, superheroes, and smiling pumpkins, to monsters, classic ones like vampires and witches as well as current characters such as Sulley from Monster’s Inc. and creepy clowns.
Historically, however, Halloween has been a night when the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead have been so thin that spirits could cross over. People would wear costumes to ward off these roaming ghosts.
Ghosts and spirits are in the limelight in the books below; though some are not very scary, all of them pay tribute to Halloween’s original goings-on.
The House on Stone’s Throw Island : A Ghost Story by Dan Poblocki. 9780545645560. 2015. Gr 6-8.
When a storm blows in, Josie and Eli are the youngest of the wedding guests trapped on an island off the coast of Maine. This island is haunted by spirits seeking revenge, and the only clue that Josie and Eli have is a scrap of an old Nazi uniform and a voice crying out for help in German.
I Text Dead People (Dead Serious) by Rose Cooper. 9780375991387. 2015. Gr 5-8.
After moving into a mansion next door to a cemetery, thirteen-year-old Anna finds a cellphone that keeps receiving text messages from ghosts. As she tries to help the ghosts with their problems, Anna also attempts to sort out normal middle school dramas, including cliques, a stalker, and liking someone else’s boyfriend.
Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George. 9781619634312. 2015. Gr 7-10.
Cousins Dacia and Lou know little about their Romanian relatives. After their 17th birthdays, they are sent to Romania, where they learn the family’s dark secrets and discover the family’s centuries-old bond with the royal Dracula family. When they are ordered to help Prince Dracula, Dacia and Lou must decide if they will accept their supernatural inheritance or fight to break free.
Thirteen Chairs by Dave Shelton. 9780545816656. 2015. Gr 7-12.
In a dark, abandoned house Jack finds a group of twelve odd-looking people seated around a table. As Jack takes the only empty chair, the others take turn sharing their stories—each one creepier and spookier than the last. When it is almost his turn, Jack finally realizes who his companions are and why he is with them. The framework of this collection makes it read almost like a novel.
Took : A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn. 9780544551534. October 2015. Gr 4-7.
At first Daniel doesn’t believe the superstitious tales of the mean classmates at his new school. They tell him that his new home, a rundown farm, is haunted by Old Auntie, a witch who kidnaps and keeps a girl for fifty years, then lets her go to get another one. When his sister Erica is taken, Daniel knows he cannot ignore the truth of Old Auntie anymore, and summons his courage to get his sister back.
Woven by Michael Jensen & David Powers King. 9780545685726. 2015. Gr 7-9.
Nels always wanted to be a knight in the kingdom of Cobblestown, but he was murdered. Now a ghost, Nels approaches the kingdom’s heir, Princess Tyra, the only person who can see him, for help. Realizing they are linked by a common secret and enemy, they embark on a magical quest to find an ancient needle that can mend what is broken before Nels becomes unwoven and disappears forever.
More middle school fiction about ghosts and spirits:
The Last of the Spirits by Chris Priestley. 9781408854136. 2014. Gr 6-8.
SERIES : Lockwood & Co. by Jonathan Stroud. Gr 5-8.
The Screaming Staircase (Book 1). 9781423164913. 2013.
The Whispering Skull (Book 2). 9781423164920. 2014.
The Hollow Boy (Book 3). 9781484709689. 2015.
The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier. 9781419711442. 2014. Gr 4-7.
The Swallow : A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter. 9781770495913. 2014. Gr 4-7.