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Whether you’re a longtime lover of scary stories or you want something new to read, here are a few frightening recommendations.
Watch: “Spirited Away” (2001)
After moving to a new home in the Japanese countryside, 10-year-old Chihiro and her parents stumble across an abandoned amusement park. A witch transforms her parents into giant pigs, and Chihiro realizes she is trapped in a town ruled by spirits, demons and evil gods. She is put to work in the town’s bathhouse and must find a way to find a way back to her world.
This Academy award winning animated film is suitable for kids age 9 and above. Watch “Spirited Away” on HBO Max or Amazon Prime Video.
Read: “Serafina and the Black Cloak” by Robert Beatty (2015)
“Serafina and the Black Cloak” is a historical fiction and fantasy novel set in 1899 North Carolina. Twelve-year-old Serafina lives in the basement of Biltmore Estate with her father. After a chain of child abductions, Serafina and her friend Braeden realize a mysterious man in a black cloak is the culprit. The book follows their mission to find the man’s identity and save the remaining children, as well as Serafina’s coming-of-age journey.
“Serafina and the Black Cloak” is suitable for all readers over the age of 8.
Watch: “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)
Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is set in Halloweentown, which throws an annual Halloween celebration planned by Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King. One year, Jack grows bored of these parties and looks for something new. He wanders into a forest and eventually ends up in Christmas Town. Inspired by the town’s jolly mood, he decides Halloweentown will take over Christmas from Santa Claus. After heading out to deliver presents to the terrified children, he realizes he is not right for the job. Jack and his friend Sally must avoid getting captured by a rival boogeyman as they set out to find Santa and save Christmas.
This PG film is suitable for children aged 8 and up, and you can watch it on Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV.
Read: “Gilda Joyce” series (2005-2011) by Jennifer Allison
This mystery novel series follows a stylish girl named Gilda Joyce, who is a psychic investigator and undercover reporter. Gilda works on her first ever case in “Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator,” by uncovering a family secret that has kept a ghost wandering around the home of her relatives. The young detective encounters more mysterious phenomena in both a Catholic school and an international piano competition in books two and three, respectively. The series’ fourth installment follows Gilda’s experience at the International Spy Museum, where she tries to decode a mysterious message from a spy. In the final book, Gilda investigates suspicious activity surrounding her mom’s new fiance before it’s too late.
This series is a perfect read for kids in grades 3 through 7.
Maya Chu is a student at West High School and an editor and reporter for the West Side Story.