Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Reads

Halloween casts an eerie glow on our reading. We choose spooky books and read in hushed whispers. We flip through old favorites and delight in the dark and creepy tales. We let scary books creep in and give us a little chill.

Here are some of our favorite Halloween-time stories. None of these specifically name Halloween, but they each illustrate the spookiness of the season.



The Ghost-Eye Tree, by Bill Martin and John Archambault, takes readers to a quaint country home where two children must walk to town in the dark to fetch a bucket of milk for their mother. They dread passing the ghost-eye tree, so named because it appears to have two glowing eyes that stare at the children and branches that reach like arms.
                                         
 
This story has enough suspense to keep us turning the pages and enough subtle creepiness and realism to give us the chills. This is by far Aidyn's favorite spooky tale, and he loves cuddling up and reading it with me every year.

In a Dark Dark Room and Other Scary Stories, by Alvin Schwartz, is packed with intricately illustrated drawings and scary tales. Many of the stories have moments that cause us to jump but all in good fun. Some of the stories are pretty creepy and macabre, and so may be unsuitable for some children. However, Aidyn loves the stories, even if he remembers the little twist endings.


Bony-Legs, by Joanna Cole, is another favorite. A Russian folktale, Bony-Legs isn't exactly scary, but it has fantastical fairy tale elements that feel creepy as you read (like a witch that eats little children). Despite the creepiness, there are a wealth of messages within the story, like the themes of charity and bravery.


Yesterday, after reading the trio of spooky stories, we talked about elements of horror fiction, what makes these stories particularly creepy, what kinds of vocabulary created scary images, what kinds of illustrations gave us the chills, and the elements of fairy tales (fantasy--talking animals and things in 3s).

I invited Aidyn to think of his own scary story, and he came up with one on the fly and told it to me in his best creepy voice. We then took the idea to the dining room table where I supplied him with paper, a pencil, crayons, markers, and some Halloween music for inspiration. 


He wrote out his story and drew the illustrations. We talked about the use of color in the three books to help him decide what kind of pictures he wanted to include with his story. I also congratulated him on his use of words like "grabbed" and "tossed" because I could visualize those action much better than if he used words like "picked up" and "threw."

Hard at work.

When he finished, we took a little break and talked about covers and titles. We remembered titles of some of our favorite books and movies and analyzed the covers of the three books we read as far as their titles, cover drawings and placement of credits. He decided to title his work "Frightening Monster."


We love cuddling and sharing stories, and I am so excited that Aidyn's becoming a little storyteller himself.


In other news...

Because of my crazy school schedule, moving, and my training for a half-marathon, I am behind on posting. We have done a light chocolate unit study and are in the middle of a Roald Dahl unit study. I hope to post soon, though there won't be many pictures (the camera was lost for weeks!). We're also developing some exciting plans and a possible Destination Disney World unit study for next year. Check back to see what we do!