It’s Summer Reading time! A time to read books and win prizes.
I and many others love the Summer Reading program because it means reading freedom! No longer being tied to what you “have” to read, but instead being able to savor some of your favorite genres—or maybe even try out some new ones.
As our regular blog readers know, I am a horror fan. I’ve written some historical horror posts and posts on why I think kids should read horror. However, I firmly believe that spooky isn’t seasonal—meaning, you don’t have to save your love for spooky stories for October.
This year’s Summer Reading theme is “Treasure Reading.” While that invokes some fun images of pirates and buried treasure, I think of it as a command. A short phrase telling me to treasure the act of reading, and I do that by reading the things that get me excited to read—which happens to be the scarier stuff.
And I want you to treasure horror, too!
So I’m taking this early summer post to discuss the 4th annual Summer Scares selections.
The Summer Scares Reading Program is a program that provides librarians and schools with an annual list of recommended horror titles for adult, teen, and middle-grade readers. In addition, it introduces readers and librarians to new authors and helps start conversations extending beyond books. The goal is to encourage a national discussion about the horror genre across all age levels and ultimately attract more interest to the genre.
Aside from selecting the books and providing read-alike lists—they also provide some discussion guides and program ideas for libraries. Unfortunately, the timing for us to do any of these didn’t work out, but I’m excited to try to advocate for a spooky Summer Reading theme next year.
In the meantime, I want to share with you some of my favorites from the selections and leave you with some fun lists so that, hopefully, you can find your new treasured horror read.
Before that though, a quick note about something you’ll see in my reviews. I’ve listed some “appeal factors.” I got these from NoveList, and they help to explain some aspects of the novel that people might find, well, appealing. NoveList even has an appeal mixer, which is cool. So you can search for books that have all sorts of factors that you enjoy.
My favorite Adult Horror Pick: My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris
- Character: Authentic, Flawed; Introspective
- Tone: Moving; Nostalgic
- Plus, it’s illustrated!
Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of late 1960s Chicago, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is the fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazine iconography. Karen tries to solve the murder of her neighbor, Anka, a holocaust survivor, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold. When Karen’s investigation leads back to Anka’s life in Nazi Germany, the reader discovers how the personal, the political, the past, and the present converge.
To see the other adult picks and read-alikes check out this list: Summer Scares 2022 – Adult Reading List | Main library (jcls.org)
My favorite Teen Horror Pick: Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare
- Storyline: Action Packed
- Tone: Atmospheric; Darkly humorous; Gruesome
- Writing Style: Engaging, well-crafted dialogue.
Quinn Maybrook and her dad just moved to tiny, boring Kettle Springs for a fresh start. But since the Baypen Corn Syrup Factory shut down, Kettle Springs has been caught in a battle between old and new. On one side are the adults, who want to make Kettle Springs great again, and on the other are the kids, who just want to have fun. It’s a fight that looks like it will destroy the town. Until Frendo, Baypen’s creepy clown mascot decides that the only way to fix Kettle Springs is to cull its rotten crop of kids.
To see the other teen picks and read-alikes check out this list: Summer Scares 2022 – YA Picks | Main library (jcls.org)
My favorite Middle-Grade Horror Pick: Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker
- Character: Anthropomorphic, Courageous, Mischievous
- Tone: Atmospheric, Suspenseful
- Plus, it’s illustrated!
The haunted season has arrived in the Antler Wood. When Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they discover a dangerous world full of monsters. To find a den to call home, they must venture through field and forest, facing unspeakable things dwelling in the darkness: a zombie who hungers for their flesh, a witch who tries to steal their skins… and other things too scary to mention, in these interconnected and illustrated stories that paint a thrilling portrait of survival and an unforgettable tale of friendship.
To see the other middle-grade picks and read-alikes check out this list: Summer Scares 2022 – Middle Grade Reading List | Main library (jcls.org)
I hope you find some spooky treasures in these lists and that you too treasure reading—no matter the genre—this summer.
And don’t forget! Your reading treasures can turn into real treasures! The more you read, the more opportunities you have to win great prizes. Learn more about the summer reading program here.