20 October 2016

Suggested Reading: Spooky Halloween

Halloween is coming (said in a stentorian voice as if I were on Game of Thrones) which means it is time for some scary stories. While I wouldn’t call myself a fan of horror stories, I do enjoy a good scare especially at this time of year

Picture Books

The Dangerous Alphabet
written by Neil Gaiman
illustrated by Gris Grimly

written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
illustrated by Howard Fine

I’m Not Afraid of This Haunted House
written by Laurie Friedman
illustrated by Teresa Murfin

Chapter Books

All Hallow’s Eve: 13 Stories*
written by Vivian Vande Velde

written by Joseph Bruchac

written by Lauren Myracle

Happy reading!

For the purposes of the Suggested Reading posts, chapter books refers to any books with chapters. Those that are appropriate for teens are marked with an asterisk.

12 October 2016

And It Really Happened

When I was in graduate school, I worked on the If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything reading incentive project at the Laguna Elementary School on the Pueblo of Laguna Reservation in New Mexico. My professor and I would go out to visit the school about every six to eight weeks bringing books and some sort of giveaway prize.

Most of the books were donated, and the students and teachers loved them. Their favorites—above any other genre—were scary stories, and the best ones were the scariest ones. In fact, the school's librarian told a version of "The Ribbon" in one of the best ways possible. She would bring the students into the library's storage closet, which was big enough to accommodate everyone, and turn off the lights before launching into the story. No matter how many times those children heard that story, they always screamed at the climax. It was such a scary, fun, glorious moment to be a part of.

Of course, my professor and I couldn't get away without telling a scary story of our own. While I always read one from a book, my professor would tell one. She did, however, have a rule that she would only tell scary stories that had happened to her or someone she knew—and she had some scary stories! The children loved hearing them, too.

In honor of that tradition, I will tell a scary story that happened to me and friend of mine when I was about eleven years old.

My friend V and her older sister were spending the night at my house. We lived out in the country down a gravel road, five miles from town and a mile and a half from our nearest neighbors. The house was an old farmhouse with no air conditioning and large windows. Because we had no neighbors, we only had lace valance curtains. 
All three of us were in the living room. It was terribly late (or incredibly early, depending on your point of view), and V's sister was asleep on the couch. V and I were watching videotaped music videos on TV because we didn't have cable, and I relied on my cousins to record videos on VHS and mail them to me (this is why I will NEVER not have cable as an adult). 
We were total dorks, but we didn't care. We were having a great time singing along and goofing off when we heard a voice by the window.  Both V and I distinctly heard a male voice say exactly the same thing—"They're awake. They're watching TV."—like he was talking to someone else! 
I paused the video and stared at V. "Did you hear that?" I asked. 
She nodded. 
Naturally, we did not look out the windows. We never saw nor heard a car. We woke up V's sister, but she thought we were crazy and told us to go to sleep. Deciding that was sound advice, we turned off the TV and the lights and tried to fall asleep. It took a while. 
While I have my suspicions about who I think the mystery boys were, I can never prove it. In the end, nothing happened, but it sure was terrifying at the time. Even now I get chills thinking about it.