Frightening Fiction Book Challenge

October is here and our minds turn to Halloween and spooky book choices. Tales of horror, the supernatural, and mysterious happenings are among the most wanted for readers in the fall months. To promote a love of reading and increase circulation I created a Frightening Fiction Reading Challenge. From elementary to high school, this challenge could be tailored to fit your students’ age level. 

Creating the Creepy Challenge

Creating reading challenges for students can be a great way to get readers out of their genre or book type comfort zone. Just by trying something new for a reading challenge students often find new favorites. For this challenge I wanted to break up Halloween-themed books into sections, not just scary books in general. The hope is that by branching out inside the world of spooky books, readers will find a new thread they enjoy. The Frightening Fiction Reading Challenge form has 6 unique sections for students to explore:

  • Classic Horror
  • Masters of Horror and Fantastic
  • Face Your Fears
  • Supernatural Creatures
  • Halloween Cover Hunt
  • Special Abilities

The challenge for students is to read one book from each of the themes and record the title. When they turn in the completed, they get a prize!

Building a Boo-tiful Book Display

Part of the struggle of reading challenges can be promotion. How do we get the word out about the challenge and get students motivated to participate? One way that I accomplish this is by creating a book display to match the challenge at the front of the library. Students can only enter our library through one set of doors so I know that all students who enter see the display. I try to keep the display stocked with books as they are checked out to keep the choices fresh, and I add things students can take as a small giveaway like a Halloween pencil. 

Infectious Incentives for Reading 

A great way to motivate little or big students is offering prizes for completing reading challenges. This can be as simple as a pencil or a sticker, all the way to a book or a partnership that you may have with a local business or restaurant. For this particular book challenge the prizes that I am giving students is a coupon for a BOGO burrito or bowl at Chipotle. This prize was made possible through a partnership with Chipotle’s Reading Rewards program. Each January Chipotle opens up applications for schools or organizations to apply for reading rewards to support reading challenges from elementary through high school.  

This Frightening Fiction Reading Challenge is just another way to motivate students to read for enjoyment. They will read different subsections of horror books that they may not have been exposed to previously. Capitalizing on this spooky time of year will encourage readers to pick up a book and get cozy as the weather turns colder.

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Author: Elizabeth Pelayo

Elizabeth Pelayo is the library media specialist at St. Charles East High School in St. Charles Illinois. She currently writes book reviews for School Library Journal. She is a member of the AASL AAUP Book Selection Committee. Also, she is a member of the nominations committee for the ISLMA Abraham Lincoln Book Award.



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