Want to read more middle grade horror? Start here! 2021 edition

1024 674 Writer and the Wolf Editorial

Maybe you write horror for adults and want to dip your toe into the middle grade pool. Maybe you write realistic fiction for kids and want to try your hand at something spookier. Maybe you’ve never written anything but children’s horror is calling to you. Or maybe you’ve already written a scary middle grade but you’ve realised you just don’t know the market enough. Never fear! Here’s my introduction to finding recently published MG horror that everyone’s raving about.

Of course you can find middle grade horror books to read in a thousand places: the library, Amazon, recommendations from friends, browsing your local bookshop, reading reviews in publishing magazines. These are all excellent options and I encourage you to go do them, now! But if you’re feeling lost in a sea of titles and don’t know where to begin or what’s worth reading, this post is intended to point you in the right direction and get you started with the category. By hunting out books that have won or been nominated for genre awards, received buzz from specialist publications and blogs in the field or been chosen by libraries to actively promote to children, you can be fairly confident those titles have been popular and well received by those in the know.

Summer Scares 2021 Middle Grade

Every year for National Library Lover’s Day, the Horror Writers Association, United for Libraries, Book Rio and Booklist come together to select their Summer Scares Reading List. These are titles selected by a panel of librarians and authors to promote horror to all ages. Here are their 2021 picks:

Ollie’s Odyssey by William Joyce

Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi

Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods by Hal Johnson


Ladies of Horror Fiction Award for Best Middle Grade 2021

The Ladies of Horror Fiction select a middle grade shortlist and winner each year and here are their six 2021 choices:

Hide and Seeker by Daka Hermon (winner)

Crater Lake by Jennifer Killick (nominee)

Ghost Squad by Claribel A Ortega (nominee)

The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf (nominee)

The Stitchers by Lorien Lawrence (nominee)

Thirteens by Kate Alice Marshall (nominee)


Bookshops’ and publishers’ top picks

Take a look at the middle grade bestsellers at the big book stores in your country or children’s publishers online. You might not be able to filter by middle grade AND horror but you could pick one category and scroll through the results for titles and covers that shout ‘horror’ at you. Alternatively, you can Google ‘bestselling children’s horror’ and you’ll find publishers’ top lists that way.

Where else can you look?


Thanks so much for reading, lovely writer! Want empowering, feel-good writing chat and fairy dust in your inbox? Plus receive a PDF of my recommended writing craft books for children’s and YA writers (including go-to genre guides and Children’s Lit MA reading list) AND £20 Wolf Credit to spend with me! Sign up today!

Siobhan O'Brien Holmes

Siobhan O'Brien Holmes is a developmental editor working with middle grade and YA authors. She specialises in speculative and genre fiction, particularly horror, fantasy, mystery, sci-fi and anything with a dash of magic or macabre. She is a member of the SfEP, EFA, ACES, British Fantasy Society, Horror Writers Association and SCBWI. She has an MA in Novel Writing and an MA in Children's Literature.

All stories by: Siobhan O'Brien Holmes