One week away from Halloween – are you and your family getting ready? Picking out costumes, choosing which candy to give out (what you like or what you don’t so you won’t eat it all?), decorating the house, making spooky crafts and snacks are all part of the fun.
One of my favorite parts of Halloween has always been the funny, spooky story books that I read as a child. Personally, my very favorite was always Patricia Coombs’ Dorrie the Witch stories. Her simple pen and ink illustrations were fascinating to me. They inspired my own drawing style and brought me into her world of a haunted house in the woods.
“A book is a safe place to explore fear – much, much safer than the real world,” says Phil Nel, director of Kansas State University’s graduate program in children’s literature. “And if a book is too scary for a child, she or he can close the cover and stop reading it.”
KSU’s associate professor of English Anne Phillips recommends the following for the younger crowd:
“John Pig’s Halloween” by David McPhail which tell the story of John Pig who is reluctant to go out trick-or-treating. When a friendly witch shows up, he finds out how fun Halloween actually is.
“Six Creepy Sheep” by Judith Ross Enderle and Stephanie Gordon Tessler, illustrated by John O’Brien, is a story that incorporates counting when six friends go out trick or treating and meet all sorts of interesting groups including pig pirates, horse hobos and geese goblins. The end of the story is a giant Halloween party.
Nel offers the following suggestions for the over-4 crowd:
Dr. Seuss’ “The Sneetches and Other Stories” – specifically the “What Was I Scared Of?” story
“Shadow” by Suzy Lee
“Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears” by Emily Gravett
“Ghosts in the House!” by Kazuno Kohara
“The Mysteries of Harris Burdick” by Chris Van Allsburg
“Mommy?” by Maurice Sendak, Arthur Yorinks and Matthew Reinhart
“The Charles Addams Mother Goose” by Charles Addams
“The Gashlycrumb Tinies” by Edward Gorey (Gorey is my very favorite but caution – this one is very dark)
“There’s a Nightmare in My Closet” by Mercer Mayer
“As the City Sleeps” by Stephen T. Johnson
Joe Sutlif Sanders, assistant professor of English at KSU, recommends these picture books:
“Pumpkin Eye” by Denise Fleming
“My Monster Mama Loves Me So” by Laura Leuck
“Feathertop” by Robert D. San Suici and Daniel San Souci
“Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak
“Outside Over There” by Maurice Sendak
For first grade and up, Nel recommends a little bit scarier of a book “The Wolves in the Walls” by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean.
Here are some stories suggested by Associate Professor of English Naomi Wood for Ages 10 and Up:
“The Witches” by Roald Dahl
“The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman
“The Moaning Bones: African-American Ghost Stories” by James Haskins
“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving
“The Dark Forty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural” by Patricia McKissack
“The Headless Horseman Rides Tonight” poems by Jack Prelutsky
She also recommends two at-times banned books including “Scary Stories” by Alvin Schwartz, Lemony Snickett’s (aka Daniel Handler) “A Series of Unfortunate Events” starting with “The Bad Beginnings” and R.L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” series.
“Dahl and Snickett present children as resourceful and competent to deal with scary things, even when the thinks are very scary indeed,” says Wood. “Of the poetry and folklore collections, the form of the poem help contain the fear through rhyme – which is predictable and pleasureable, and can be dramatized for great effect – or through sudden/surprising endings, as in the children’s folklore, which often involves jumping, screeching or other eruptions. Prelutsky is known for his humor rather than his out-and-out scariness, so his poems are more interesting to kids for the gross-out factor.”
Sanders also recommends several comic book options that are Halloween-themed including:
“Little Vampire” books by Joann Sfar, especially “Little Vampire Goes to School”
“The Stuff of Legend” by Mike Raicht, Brian Smith and Charles Paul Wilson III about a child’s toys who rescue him from his nightmares.
“Ghostopolis” by Doug TenNapel – “These are great scary stories for young readers,” says Sanders.
To read more about the experts’ other suggestions, please check out http://kstatenews.org/?p=6245]]>