Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ghost Stories For Middle School Readers.

Who doesn't like a good scare every now and then?   Even the weak of heart sometimes seek  a little thrill when it comes to creepy noises, howling night winds, and other things that go bump in the night.  Halloween is the perfect time to dust off old favorite tales as well as be introduced to new ones.  For Middle school readers  (5-8 grade) giving them a book that is a treat can be quite tricky.    Halloween themed picture books are no longer intriguing as they were when they were younger.  Their view of the holiday has changed in many ways.  For example, in the choices they make in costumes.   They go from being a princess or policeman when they were in preschools  to zombies and Freddie Kruger when they are in middle school.  These readers have grown up and are ready for horror/mystery books.

    R.L Stine has done wonders for young readers' seek the horror thrill.  His work is brilliantly done in style that is easy to read and scary enough for young readers, inviting them to stay for one more page turn.  Kids will devour these books and ask for more.  While Stine is awesome, there are a few other writers that are just as entertaining and introduces young readers to another style of writing.

Ray Bradbury is best known for his adult fiction.  In his long list of accomplishments,  his books written for children are often overlooked.  The Halloween Tree is an example of one of his best horror/fantasy books for children.  The story is familiar to readers in that it begins with the holiday traditions that every young reader  can relate to.  Eight little Trick-or-Treaters go off for a night of fun but find themselves in spooky surprises that they won't soon forget.  The suspense keeps the readers entranced and not overly frightened. 

The Ghost of Saturday Night, written by Sid Fleishman,  is not a Halloween story but it does fit provide the eerie feeling that fans of the holiday know all to well.  It has every eerie Halloween backdrop that one could hope to find. Everything from dense fog, strange visitor to town and raising a man from the dead.  Not any old man but a famous robber.   Can all this really be true? Opie is not sure, he has a health dose of skepticism that leads him to the truth.  As the story unfolds, readers will be delighted at the outcome and even more so that the ghostly plot is as thick as the fog in the story.

  Once in awhile, a book comes along and becomes an instant classic.  The reader feels this from the very first line to the very last period.   The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is such a book.  This unusual tale won the top prize in children's literature winning the Newberry Award in 2009.  By far, this book is the most imaginative, sensitive and captivating ghost story of our generation.  Gaiman's cast of characters, ghosty and otherwise, leap off the pages inviting the reader into an unseen world that is surprisingly very nonthreatening.  Clever details throughout the book are rich, leaving an impression on the reader that this ghostly reality may indeed exist.  Gaiman's other works include Coraline which is just as imaginative as this instant classic.   Both books will satisfy the  horror/fantasy reader looking for something different.

On this Halloween night, why not suggest to the middle school reader in your life  to spend the rest of the evening than with a ghost story or two.   As a matter of fact, it could be the beginning of a wonderful tradition.  Or at least give a really good excuse for young readers  to curl up with a book after an evening of successful   trick or treating.

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