By February 16, 2021 0 Comments Read More →

Summer Scares, Who Cares?

I do! And it’s not just because I was the Middle-Grade Expert on the Summer Scares committee this year (not-so-humble-brag). It’s because the titles on the 2021 list are pretty darn fantastic, and summer reading season is just around the corner. Spooky, right?

Fear not: Though Summer Scares includes books that will appeal to readers of all ages and terror tolerance, from horror fiends to scaredy-cats, it’s not just a book list. Summer Scares will also provide you with read-alikes, programming ideas, discussion questions, and the opportunity to (virtually) bring the authors to your library to talk about their books, what inspires (and scares) them, and whether or not they sleep in a coffin.

But what, exactly, is Summer Scares? So glad you asked. The Horror Writers Association (HWA), in partnership with United for Libraries, Book Riot, and your friends here at Booklist, developed Summer Scares, a reading program that provides libraries and schools with an annual list of recommended horror titles for adult, teen, and middle-grade readers. The goal is to introduce new authors and help librarians start conversations with readers that will extend beyond the books from each list and promote reading for years to come.

Get ready for goosebumps! Here are the official selections for Summer Scares 2021 </drumroll>:


The Hunger, by Alma Katsu (2018)

The Cipher, by Kathe Koja (reissued by Meerkat Press, 2020)

Frankenstein in Baghdad, by Ahmed Saadawi, translated by Jonathan Wright (2018)


Undead Girl Gang, by Lily Anderson (2018)

The Diviners, by Libba Bray (2012)

The Marrow Thieves, by Cherie Dimaline (2017)


Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods, by Hal Johnson and illustrated by Tom Mead (2015)

Ollie’s Odyssey, by William Joyce (2016)

Whichwood, by Tahereh Mafi (2017)

Visit RA for All: Horror for more information on Summer Scares 2021, and keep an ear out for the next episode of Booklist’s Shelf Care: The Podcast, bravely hosted by Susan Maguire, who falls firmly among the horror scaredy-cats. But we love her anyway. It will be dropping later this month and features interviews with members of the selection panel (including Silvia Moreno-Garcia!) and librarians who participated in the program last year. StokerCon events and a Summer Scares-themed podcast episode from Ladies of the Fright are also in the works. Can you even handle it?!

And please do yourself a favor and watch this horrifyingly cute video of an old bat named Statler:

Photo from Bat World Sanctuary

Posted in: Books and Authors
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About the Author:

Julia Smith is a senior editor for Books for Youth at Booklist. She is a graduate of the MLIS program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is also an aspiring aerialist. Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaKate32.

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