Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Recently, I had some time to hang out with a couple of friends and author, Adam Gidwitz.  Adam's book A Tale Dark & Grimm is one of my favorites and his new book In a Glass Grimmly has just recently been released.  As we talked, the topic of scary stories came up.  One of my friends started talking about how scary Rick Yancey's The Monstrumologist is.   Each of us in this group had various levels of tolerance for creepy stories.  After a run in during 9th grade with books by Stephen King and John Saul, I have decided that I like my scary stories with a sufficient dose of snark and lite on the super creepy scary parts. 

All of this discussion and with Halloween right around the corner, I started to think more about whether there is a benefit for children in reading scary stories.  Some might ask if children should ever read scary stories.  As I thought about it and read some blog posts by others, my answer is a definite yes, but with some guidelines. First, especially as teachers and educators, it is important to know your students.  Everyone has a different threshold for what is scary and what isn’t.  Additionally, teachers need to be respectful of parents’ wishes. What I might be comfortable with a parent isn't.  With that said, here are some benefits to children to reading those creepy books.

Many experts divide scary stories into three categories:  Fairy Tales, Campfire Type Stories, and Real Life Scary Situations.  

Fairy Tales: Grimm not Disney – Most of us have become accustomed to the adaptations Disney has made with the original Grimm Fairy Tales, but pull out the original stories and what you have are tales that were quite dark.  What do children gain from these tales?  The stories allow children to grapple with lessons related to concepts such as greed, envy, vanity, abandonment, and more.  Also, children get to work through issues of good versus evil.  One of the regular patterns in these stories involve the evil witch dying in the end and the children triumphing over adversity.  As Adam Gidwitz mentioned in our informal chat, the happy ending balances out the gruesomeness of the story.

Spine-tinglers & Campfire Stories – How many of us recall times when we were children sitting around a camp fire or curled up on the floor in a darkened living room listening to a friend or an adult tell a ghost story or urban legend or other tale designed to scare us?  What was the common reactions to these stories, usually lots of screams, grabbing one another, running around, and inevitably laughter followed by the words "tell another one".  It is why books such as RL Stine's Goosebumps series is so popular.  It hits us with the right balance of scary and glad that it is happening to someone else.  

Real Issues that are Frightening – Children of all ages have to go through life challenges that can be difficult and truly scary.  Issues such as divorce, death of a close family member or a friend, fears of dogs or flying or what's under the bed, and even family abuse may be difficult to talk about.  Reading stories about these circumstances can help children develop ways of dealing or coping with the situations in their own live and provide them with words in which to discuss what may be bothering them.  One of my favorites from 2011 is Patrick Ness’ AMonster Calls, which uses a fantastical element of a monster who arrives at the same time each night as a means for a young teen boy to come to grips with his mother’s pending death. 

Some additional resources:
Check out the blog post for just right scary book reads for preschooler to teens – GettingReady for a Shivery Good Read on rocketcitymom.com.  For a professional look at the benefits of reading scary stories, look into Sheldon Cashdan’s TheWitch Must Die: The Hidden Meaning of Fairy Tales.   

This Halloween join author Neil Gaiman (Coraline, The Graveyard Book, and more) is celebrating by recommending that people give away a scary book(s) this year.  Check out his site All Hallows Read for book suggestions, and additional resources. 

To celebrate the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop hosted by I am a Reader, Not a Writer and The Diary of a Bookworm, I am celebrating by giving away a scary book of your choice (under $15 on Amazon) to one lucky winner.  And this is a big giveaway hop - 500 bloggers participating.  Blogs will start posting sometime today though the giveaway technically begins tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern - feel free to start entering. 

Rules for the Giveaway:
1. Though comments are very much appreciated, please do not enter any personal information in the comments section (including your email, website, etc.). If you do enter personal information, your comment will not be posted.
2. You must complete the entry form to official enter the giveaway.
3. The Contest runs from 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time on October 24th to 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on October 31st.
4. You must be 13 years or older to participate.
5. If you are selected as the winner, you will be notified by email. If you do not respond within 48 hours, I will select a new winner.
6. US participants only.