Thursday, October 25, 2007

I promised you a listing of scary stories. Instead, I am going to insert the article I wrote for our little freebie weekly newspaper - The Bethlehem/East Penn/Parkland/Easton/somewhere else/ News. Here it is. Not exactly the way it was printed - because my editor has to edit. That's her job. Read on for some classic scary story collections.

On a recent Saturday night, I made my way to Little Pond Retreat Center ( in Nazareth for the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild’s ( Fright Night Bonfire. WOW! What a wonderful night to sit under the stars on the top of a hill around a crackling, snapping bonfire! The sparks looked like orange fireflies and they rose 20 feet into the air. The night was just cold enough to make the fire seem cozy. The storytellers, Maryann Paterniti, Vicky Town, Chaz Kiernan and myself, were awesome. (Well, THEY all were awesome. I played the accordion!). Our MC, Larry Sceurman, did some magic and told personal reminiscences of the tricks he played on Halloweens long past. I was never a big fan of scary stories - not as a child - not as a teen - not, now, as an adult. You won't catch me reading Steven King or Dean Koontz. Real life is scary enough. Anyone who has ever sent her children off to school for the first time knows just how scary life can be. And then there's your teen's first solo trip as a new driver. The very thought turns more of my hair white. So, creepy things oozing from the walls, evil lurking in the subways??, thank you.That said, I actually like telling scary stories. Since they are not my favorite stories to tell, it takes me forever to find the perfect stories. The tales I told on Saturday came from Ghosts Go a-Haunting, a collection of Scottish ghoul yarns collected by Sorche Nic Leodhas. I have used Alvin Schwartz's collections, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, etc. for some great spine tingling-ness as well.

Telling creepy tales is a time honored Halloween tradition. Here are some books to get you started. Read them out loud or tell them from memory. Sharing a shivery moment as the nights grow longer is great family fun.

The Scary Book, compiled by Joanna Cole and Stephanie Calmenson, (Morrow Junior Books, 1991) is a collection of funny-scary stories, riddles, tongue twisters and games. None of the stories are TOO scary and some of them are just plain fun.

Early readers can learn to tell the stories they read themselves in Alvin Schwartz’s collection, In a Dark, Dark Room, and Other Scary Stories (HarperCollins, 1984). Or they can read Scared Silly!: a Book for the Brave compiled and illustrated by Marc Brown (Little, Brown, 1994).

For fun read-alouds, little ones will enjoy Kay Winters’ Teeny Tiny Ghost series. In these books illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, a timid ghost tries to overcome his fears with great success.

Jarrett Krosoczka wrote and illustrated a Halloween tale of bravery against dreadful odds, Annie Was Warned (Alfred A. Knopf, 2003). Annie WAS warned but that doesn’t stop her from going out on a dark night.

Old readers and listeners will find a lot to chill their bones in the ghost story collections of Robert D. San Souci. The series starts with Short & Shivery and continues with More Short & Shivery and A Terrifying Taste of Short and Shivery (all from Delacorte Press). Like Schwartz’ Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, San Souci’s collections each contain dozens of scary stories for braver readers. Schwartz concentrates on American folklore. San Souci’s stories come from all over the world.
(Schwartz’s series is available in a boxed set from HarperTrophy, 2001. The set includes Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Scary Stories III.)

Raw Head, Bloody Bones: African-American Tales of the Supernatural Collected by Mary C. Lyons has some of the creepiest, most blood-curdling stories EVER between its covers. Reader, beware!

Some readers want real ghosts – or the rumors thereof. Daniel Cohen has collected stories of “real” ghosts since the 1980s. His books include The Ghosts of War (Putnam, 1990) and Civil War Ghosts (available in paperback from Scholastic), both of which concentrate on stories of haunted battlefields and soldier ghosts. Star-gazers can read Cohen’s The Ghost of Elvis, and Other Celebrity Spirits (Putnam, 1994).

People who are looking for local ghosts can read Charles J. Adams III’s Ghosts of the Lehigh Valley (Exeter House, 1993). There are some horrifying stories about local landmarks in this book. Keep the light on!

You missed the bonfire this year but if you want to listen scary stories told well, the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild will perform more spine-tingling yarns at Godfrey Daniels in South Bethlehem on Halloween night – October 31st – at 7 p.m. Check out Godfrey’s website for directions –

And now for a disclaimer: Read all of these books at your own peril. This writer will not be responsible for nightmares and/or sleepless nights. Happy Halloween!

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