Mysterious, Classic, Scary and Sweet - a Fall booklist perfect for cold nights and cozy blankets

Fall is the perfect time for reading. The shorter days and colder nights drive us inside and create the ideal opportunity to snuggle up with a cozy blanket and a good book.

Yep, Autumn and reading go together like peanut butter and jelly, a classic combination.

There are certain genres of books that feel especially appropriate this time of year. Cold and gray outsides, make the insides extra cozy and the thought of diving into a thick book or classic work more inviting. Shorter days and longer evenings can be motivating to start a longer series of books. A spooky story or compelling mystery can be just the thing to set the mood for a late night read in bed while the wind howls outside the window.

Today’s list contains ideas and recommendations from all of these categories, making it a fairly diverse list. If you have a sensitive reader, some of these books might not be a good match. But, if your young reader enjoys the thrill of a scary story every once in awhile, I am excited to share some new discoveries.

Wherever your child falls on the spooky spectrum, I think today’s list has a little bit for everyone. Hopefully you will find the perfect book for your kids to dive into this Fall, to read on their own or to share together.

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone

Whether your child is starting Harry Potter for the first time, or reading it again, Autumn feels just right to crack open this series. If your child is not a huge reader, Harry Potter could be the series to change that. They are so hard to put down once you begin.

Readers 9 and up

Anne of Green Gables

Anne Shirley is widely quoted this time of year for saying, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” I agree. And, I think that October is the perfect time for reading about Anne Shirley.

When I was a kid, I remember this book being a little hard to get into. Anne talks so much on the ride to Green Gables! But, once I gave it a chance I couldn’t stop reading. I ended up finishing the entire series and many more of L.M. Montgomery’s books. She was one of my favorite authors as a tween and teen.

Readers 8 and up

The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden is a classic for a reason. I remember loving the mysterious feeling of this book when I read it as a kid. It is a book I have meant to revisit as an adult but haven’t gotten around to yet. Both of my girls enjoyed this book and Burnett’s other classic, A Little Princess which would also be an excellent choice this time of year. Both of these books are engaging stories that should be enjoyed and shared often.

Readers 8 and up

The Night Gardner

Mysterious, dark and scary, The Night Gardener is not for more sensitive readers. But, if your child loves a thrilling and suspenseful book this one will be very hard to put down. Death and monsters are a part of this story, but it is not graphic and also includes positive themes and a happy ending. I loved it!

Readers 8 and up

The Graveyard Book

A child raised by ghosts after his family was murdered, I hesitantly started this book, but honestly loved by the time I read the last page. You can read my full review here.

Readers 10 and up

The Book Thief

Death is the narrator; the setting is Germany during World War 2. Keeping these two details in mind, it will come as no surprise that this novel is oh-so-sad. But, it also offers a unique perspective into World War 2 that is intriguing, thought-provoking and really hard to put down. This would be a great pick for teen readers and their parents.

Readers 12 and up

City of Ember

It is the last known city on a dark earth and the lights that have kept the darkness away are beginning to flicker. City of Ember is a book with a unique story and a plot that keeps readers turning the pages. My kids’ third grade teacher reads this to her class every year. This book is great as a read aloud or a read on your own.

If your child struggles with reading novels, this story was recently released as a graphic novel.

Readers 8 and up

Little Women

Classics make great fall reads and give readers a sense of accomplishment when they have finished one. My girls and I loved Little Women. It is a story that holds up over time with characters that are as relatable today as they were then.

Readers 10 and up

Nooks and Crannies

A mysterious mystery that felt one part Willy Wonka, one part Agatha Christie and one part Series of Unfortunate Events. Six children, including our heroine Tabitha Crum an unloved girl with a pet mouse, are randomly summoned to an eccentric Countess’s mansion where a blizzard traps them without their parents. A maid dies, mysterious noises are heard within the walls and kids begin to disappear. Thankfully Tabitha is an avid reader of mysteries and sets out to solve the case. This story gets a little spooky before the author begins to reveal bits and pieces of the mystery. But, not to worry, the overall ending is happy and quite satisfying.  

Readers 10 and up

The Wizard of Oz

I think the first book I read in the Wizard of Oz series was Ozma of Oz and I remember loving it. The movie is an obvious classic, but the original book and the many Oz stories that follow are classics as well. This is a fun series that sometimes gets overlooked; pick up a copy from your library and see if your kids will give them a try. If they like the first one, they will have many more books to read this fall and beyond.

Readers 8 and up

Fuzzy Mud

If you have read Holes by Louis Sachar, this is a very different book. It is a suspenseful story that is also a little creepy. But, the overall themes are good and it’s ending is happy. It would be good pick for kids who are a little more science-minded or like a good thriller. It would not be the best pick for sensitive readers.

Readers 10 and up

The Secret Keepers

A powerful secret, a dangerous mission and an evil villain, what more could you want in a good story? Mysterious with excellent characters readers will have no problem rooting for, The Secret Keepers is a well-told story. I am a huge fan of Stewart’s Mysterious Benedict Society (another great fall read) and loved this story as well.

Readers 8 and up

The Westing Game

The Westing Game is the perfect mystery for any kid (or adult) who loves to solve puzzles. An eccentric, game-loving millionaire is dead and his fortune is being left to a stranger? Something doesn’t feel right leaving a mystery that definitely needs to be solved.

What types of books do you like reading in the Fall? There are so many more books that could be added to this list, what would you put on it?


PS If you are looking for a solid list of picture books perfect for Fall, or October, the Read-Aloud Revival site has a good one. You can check it out here.

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