Spooky text that says Scream-In

By Rebecca Denham

Duration: 1-10 hours

Everyone loves to be a little scared and this is the perfect program for teens to revel in their inner ‘fraidy-cat. A “Scream-In” can be as simple or extravagant as you wish and could be scheduled as a series of 1-2 hour programs during a week, for a few hours after the library closes, or even as an overnight event at your library. (Note: After hours or overnight programs should require a permission form.  See sample permission forms at end of chapter.)

This program allows teens to use their creativity and imagination while experiencing the fun side of fear. Activities in this program can be tailored to the age of attendees so everyone can have a spook-tacular time!

Books to Share

The Alien Invasion Survival Handbook by W. H. Mumfrey
Carrie by Stephen King
Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare by Darren Shan
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Encyclopedia of Urban Legends by Jan Harold Brunvand
Forest of Hands & Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Ghosts & Haunted Places by Rosemary Guiley
Ghosts Along the Texas Coast by Docia Williams
Ghosts Caught on Film: Photographs of the Paranormal by Melvyn Willin
Ghosts in the Graveyard: Texas Cemetery Tales by Olyve Abbott
Haunted Hikes: Spine Tingling Tales and Trails from North America’s National Parks by Andrea Lankford
House of Dark Shadows by Robert Liparulo
How to Build a Robot Army by Daniel H. Wilson
How to Survive a Robot Uprising by Daniel H. Wilson
How to be a Villain by Neil Zawacki
The Paranormal Caught on Film by Melvyn Willin
Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allen Poe
Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe
The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks

Books to Show or Booktalk

How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack: Defend Yourself When the Lawn Warriors Strike (And They Will) by Chuck Sambuchino
How to Survive a Horror Movie: All the Skills to Dodge the Kills by Seth Grahame-Smith
Mythbusters: the Explosive Truth Behind 30 of the Most Perplexing Urban Legends of All Time by Keith and Kent Zimmerman; with Jamie Hyneman, Adam Savage and Peter Rees

Bulletin Boards

Set the mood with spooky board art! Create a creepy forest or deserted bone yard; you could even put up a big witch’s head and play “pin-the-wart-on-the-witch”.


For each of these contests I would suggest a panel of 3-5 judges, who can score participants with flashcards.  If there is a tie, have a scream-off, laugh-off or walk-off.

Fun and funky prizes can be bought at a dollar store, or you can give away copies of the aforementioned books. If you choose to have contests, they should be held during the last part of the program after the teens have had a chance to get to know one another.

Scream Queen - This one is just for the ladies! Have each girl give their most blood-curdling scream to determine the winner.

Mad Scientist Laugh - And the gentlemen get a turn too!  Boys must give their best maniacal laughter to win.

Witch’s Cackle - Girls cackle their hearts out to be the truly “wicked witch”.

Villain’s Muahaha - Boys can awe the crowd with their most villainous “muahaha”.

Costume - Multiple categories can be determined ahead of time (scary, funny, original, or most well-made) whatever you choose. Teens should be encouraged, but not required, to come in costume. 

Songs and Audio Recordings

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, Howard Koch, and Orson Welles


Cookie Monsters Craft

  • Plain round cookies
  • Colored icing
  • Candy Corn
  • Toppings (i.e. sprinkles, candies etc)


Each teen will need 2 cookies to complete this craft.  First place a cookie top-side down on your preparation space. Use icing to add a thick layer of icing onto the cookie leaving a small empty space towards the front of the cookie. Place desired number of Candy Corns in the icing facing out from the front of the cookie. Next, place the second cookie top-side facing up on the icing.  You should now have something that looks like a disk with candy teeth.  Have teens use the remaining icing and toppings to decorate the top cookie and create their own Cookie Monster

Spider Craft


  • Headphone covers
  • Black pipe cleaners
  • Googly eyes (medium size)
  • Glue


If your library provides headphones for customers, chances are you have hundreds of headphone covers that are never used. You will need 1 headphone cover, 2 black pipe cleaners, and 2 googly eyes for each spider.  First, cut 2 pipe cleaners in half so that you have 4 halves. Next, stick the pipe cleaners through the headphone cover (spider’s body) to make 8 legs. Threading the “legs” though at an angle works best so that the spider can stand on its own. Choose a side to be the front and use glue to stick 2 eyes on the front. Bend the legs so the spider can stand on its own.

Four photos showing the steps to make a felt spider

Finger Pens

  • Pens (plain ball point)   
  • Crayola model magic (any color)
  • Fake nails
  • Glue
  • Toothpicks
  • Nail polish
  • Scissors


Take a medium amount of model magic and wrap it around the pen until pen is completely covered leaving tip of pen free. Select a fake nail and use scissors to trim nail so that tip of pen can reach paper to write (making the nail jagged will look creepier). Glue fake nail to model magic positioned to cover the exposed section of pen but with the tip of the nail and tip of the pen aligned so that pen can still be used.  If needed you can push nail into model magic a bit to align the tips of the nail and pen. Use the point of the toothpick to create realistic “joints” on the finger. Use a small amount of nail polish to color nail and leave to dry.

(Adapted from Family Fun’s Ghostwriter Craft)

Demented Dolls

  • Felt
  • Buttons
  • Thread
  • Needles
  • Glue (fabric-tac works best)
  • Scraps of ribbon or lace
  • Poly-fill
  • Embroidery floss
  • Markers/Pens/Pencils


Let the imagination run wild on these creepy-cute constructs. Cut two pieces of felt into the shape of your doll and stitch it together leaving an opening for poly-fill. Stuff doll and stitch completely closed. Using glue or stitches add buttons, sequins, ribbons etc to add personality to the doll.  There is no right or wrong way to make a Demented Doll, so they are impossible to mess up!

For inspiration: See Zombie Felties: How to Raise 16 Gruesome Felt Creatures from the Undead by Nicola Tedman and Sarah Skeate.  You can also turn on the movie Coraline inspired by Neil Gaimon’s book for the true meaning of demented doll!  For more crafting ideas check out Witch Craft compiled by Margaret McGuire and Alicia Kachmar.


Classic Monster Trivia


  • Poster board/foam board
  • Markers
  • XL post-its
  • Scissors
Create a “Jeopardy” style game with questions about classic monsters/villains in film, books and folklore/legend

Sample “Monster Jeopardy” Questions

Q: Who is the main character of the Cirque du Freak series? A: Darren Shan

Q: Which actor played many of the classic movie monsters? A: Bello Lugosi

Q: How long has Casper been haunting the screen? A: Casper first appeared on screen in 1945 in The Friendly Ghost

Q: On which historical figure was the character of Dracula based? A: Vlad II of Wallachia a.k.a Vlad the Impaler

Q: Where is Percy Shelley’s heart buried? A: Both Percy and Mary Shelley’s hearts share a grave. When Mary Shelley died in 1851 her husband’s heart was found in the drawer of her desk wrapped in a poem. It was subsequently buried with her.

Food Fear Factor


  • A trash can for each contestant
  • Large garbage bags to use as smocks
  • Food
  • Spoons
  • Water
  • Gum (for after the contest)

In this gastronomic challenge teens will subject their taste buds to truly horrific flavor combinations. Food Suggestions: baby food, feta cheese, anchovies, liver (cooked), chicken feet (cooked), casu marzu a.k.a. maggot cheese, spam, vegamite.  Think of food you really dislike and add it to the list. *You will need signed permission forms for these participants*

Great Library Zombie Walk

Everyone gets their zombie groove on for the GLZW! Have teens line up at one end of the lobby, or any large open space in your library.  Then have them moan and lurch across the space in all their “undead” glory. Film or photo this event to encourage optimum teen zombification! *If you take pictures or film you will need a signed photography release form for participants.*



Whiteboard and markers


Chalkboard and chalk


Play this classic game using spooky or macabre words and characters. This is a good starting game while teens are getting checked-in.

Sample Hang-Man Word List

Macabre, Haunted, Scream, Wolfman, Dracula, Thing, Bats, Ghost, Zombie, Voodoo, Creepy, Spiders, Arachnid, Chilling, Undead, Frankenstein, Monster, Alien, Creature, Scary

Haunted Library

Convert part of your library to a place fit for ghouls! Get some of your older teen volunteers to help you make a “haunted” pathway through your shelving.  Take a tip from Ghostbustersand stack books throughout the library, move furniture around.  If you have reading rooms, or a computer lab, hide a person in the room to bang on the windows/wall/door as the teens file past.

If you have a two-story branch use one floor for running programs and the other for Haunting. If you have only one floor, partition off an area/room where the lights can be turned off. Use black lights, glow sticks or strobe lights for minor illumination in the Haunted Library.  *If using a strobe light make sure that parents/participants know about it before hand.* Have some older teen volunteers help run the Haunted Library.  Adults can also volunteer (we had a great mother-dressed-as-a-witch help out who was truly creepy in the Haunted area).  Delineate a clear path through the Haunted Library and caution teens to follow directly behind you.  (It helps to have one adult lead the group and another bring up the rear.) In setting up, make sure to move chairs, stepping stools, projecting displays out of the way so teens don’t damage themselves or library furnishings. Dark libraries can be pretty creepy without much help, so if you don’t have much to work with don’t worry, you can still have a spook-takular Haunted Library. Have volunteers toss books, rattle blinds or knock over chairs while the teens are walking through.  Make up a story about a death during construction of the building or tell the teens that the grounds used to be an “Indian grave yard”.  Have a couple good screamers placed around the area to let rip with periodic bloodcurdling screams. *Make sure volunteers are either in costume or in dark clothing and wearing shoes in which they can run around.

Horror Movie Survival 101

How do you determine if you have fallen into the “horror-verse”? What can you do to even your chances of survival? Use Seth Grahame-Smith’s How to Survive a Horror Movie to outfit this panel on the tricks of surviving a horror movie.


Give traditional Charades a spooky twist. Have teens act out scenes from famous scary movies, books and urban legends. This is a great ice-breaker game.

Scary Stories Area

This can be the “chilling” area for teens to take a break in. Have them take turns telling scary stories and be willing to jump in with a few of your own. Remember, some of the scariest stories are true, so don’t be afraid to bust out your knowledge of serial killers and strange occurrences.

Relay Races

Depending on the number of teens, divide them into 3-5 groups. Each member of the team must participate.  If one team is short a person, one member must go twice. Use masking tape to mark out racing lanes so everyone races the same distance.

Bigfoot Walk


  • Poster/foam board
  • Marker
  • String/yarn
  • Tape
  • Exacto knife or box cutter


Cut foam board in half once, then cut that ½ in half once more. Draw a monster foot sizing it to use most of the 1/4 of foam board. Color in your Monster Feet; different colors for each relay team.  Use a pen to punch two holes through each foot about midway between the toes and heel of each foot. Then use twine or braided yarn to make two ties for each foot. Thread one end of the yarn through one of the holes in the foot and tie a knot around a large paperclip. Pull yarn until the paperclip is flat against the bottom of the foot and tape in place using packing tape or duct tape. Repeat with each foot until each foot has two ties.  Caution: Bottom of foam board can be slick on carpet, make sure the teens know to expect some slippage before the race starts.

Two photos showing what the finished foot looks like







Running the Relay

Each participant ties “bigfoot feet” onto their own shoes using a bow that is easily undone. Teens must then race up the taped out track and back as best they can with large “feet” attached and then switch feet to the next contestant.

Two photos of kids with the large feet attached









Dracula Bat Flap


  • Cheap vampire capes – can be made out of black plastic table clothes
  • Plastic vampire fangs (optional)

Running the Relay

Have teens loosely tie on cape with a bow for easy release. Then, as they run down the taped out track and back, teens must flap cape with their arms and shout: “I am the terror that flaps in the night” or “I vant to suck vur blood!”, while running the race.

The Great Pumpkin Sweep


  • One Medium Pumpkin for each team
  • Broom for each team

Running the Relay

Each team gets a broom and a pumpkin and must sweep the pumpkin down the taped out track and back then hand off broom and pumpkin to the next teen. This race is hysterical to watch because the pumpkins do not roll in straight lines and end up all over the place.


Running the Relay

Teens must say, “Yesss, Massterrr,” while hunching their backs and dragging a foot. Add some hand-wringing for good measure. *To ensure teens don’t do a “basketball drill” type movement have them keep the knee on their back legs straight and drag their back foot along the floor.

Monster Mash-up


  • 20 assorted costume pieces

Running the Relay

Divide teens into four teens.  Each team gets five pieces from different monster costumes. Teens must put all items on, run down taped out track and back take costume bits off and hand over to the next competitor.  Repeat until everyone is finished.

Mummy Wrap


  • 6-8 rolls of cheap toilet paper per team

Running the Relay

Each team gets the same number of rolls of toilet paper that they must use to wrap one member of the team. All toilet paper must be used to wrap the “mummy”. Once wrapping is completed the “Mummies” must then shuffle down the taped out track and back.

Three photos of kids wrapped up like mummies









WEB 2.0

Aliens Attack! - Have teens write a script then create a podcast as though they were newscasters witnessing an alien attack. Free software such as Audacity can be used for this program.  For basic steps to creating a podcast please see http://www.how-to-podcast-tutorial.com/13-basic-podcasting-software.htm.

Blair Witch-A-Like - Set up a camera and break teens into groups of 2-3.  Have the groups take turns filming a documentary style horror mini-clip. Then use a free film editing software such as Microsoft Movie Maker, Apple iMovie, or Avid FreeDV to have teens edit their short films. *This can be done in a program leading up to the Scream-In and then run in the background for the actual event.

Phantom Photos - Using a digital camera, have teens take a three photos each.  Then load photos onto a computer with photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop or GIMP. Let teens try different features in order to make the ultimate freaky photo.


Phantom of the Opera (93 minutes)- Use the 1925 film version of “Phantom of the Opera” (the one with Lon Chaney) and let the teens add their own dialogue. This is a “silent film” so you can probably leave the music running.

Ghost Hunters: The Complete First Season (660 minutes) - If you have permission, air a few episodes of Ghost Hunters to set a spooky mood.

More Films To Set The Mood

Beware! The Blob (87 minutes)
The Birds (120 minutes)
Casper (99 minutes)
Coraline (101 minutes)
Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Legacy Collection (241 minutes)
Dracula  (75 minutes)
Frankenstein meets the Wolfman (73 minutes)
Ghostbusters (107 minutes)
Ghostbusters 2 (124 minutes)
Gremlins (106 minutes)
Hocus Pocus (96 minutes)
The War of the Worlds: Based on the Novel by H. G. Wells (82 minutes)
The Wolf Man: The Legacy Collection (280 minutes)

Professional Resources

Fear Itself: The Origin and Nature of the Powerful Emotion That Shapes Our Lives and Our World by Rush W. Dozier, Jr.

Hitchcock on Hitchcock: Selected Writings and Interviews by Alfred Hitchcock and Sidney Gottlieb

Horror Film and Psychoanalysis: Freud’s Worst Nightmare by Steven Jay Schneider

Witch Craft: Wicked Accessories, Creepy-Cute Toys, Magical Treats, and More! by Margaret McGuire and Alicia Kachmar

Zombie Felties: How to Raise 16 Gruesome Felt Creatures from the Undead byNicola Tedman and Sarah Skeate

American Folklore - collects folklore and urban legend from around the country.

Goosebumps! The Science of Fear - developed by the California Science Center has teen-friendly information on both the physical and emotional reaction cause by experiencing fear.

Teens Health - Gives a basic layout of how teens experience fear and how pleasure and fear can be experienced at the same time.

Page last modified: December 12, 2011