I am not brave. In fact I am a scaredy cat. I don’t like things that go bump in the night. I don’t watch Doctor Who before bed. I have a somewhat vivid imagination and have often been known to hear a bump and go and investigate (yes, that bit where everyone yells at the screen ‘Don’t go and look!’) with hair straighteners as my weapon and phone in hand. What do I think I can do? Whack them with the straighteners and tweet about it? #takethatburgler!
So, I may seem a somewhat strange choice for writing about spooky, scary, spine-tingling stories, but it seems I like a bit of mild terror in my children’s literature – and children love it!
One of my ‘most used in the classroom’ books would have to be Kevin Crossley-Holland‘s Short – A Book of Very Short Stories. A useful book for every classroom, it has some great spooky (amongst others) starting points for stories. My favourite is the following story, it’s an entire story in one sentence and what a great starting point!
Talk About Short
He was alone, and in the dark; and when he reached out for the matches, the matches were put in his hand.
For younger children, the fun of Wolves by Emily Gravett has a mild sense of terror inbuilt as the Wolf follows poor Rabbit as he reads about the danger of Wolves. It has real elements of “He’s behind you!” and I love that Gravett leaves you with an alternative ending too. It’s also a great mix of information text encased in a narrative.
Following the theme of wolves, how about Wolves in the Walls, a great graphic-novel-style picture book by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean. They make a fabulous pair with Neil’s no-nonsense text and Dave’s atmospheric illustrations. His Picasso inspired people give a strange and disjointed air to the characters. It may be a picture book, but this one’s for KS2. Did you hear something?
Neil Gaiman probably deserves mention as being one of my current favourite writers of scary, spooky spine-chilling books for KS2 and you may want to think about Coraline and The Graveyard Book if you teach in upper KS2.
Looking for something lighter? There is The Monster Diaries by Luciano Saracino and illustrated by Polly Bernatene, which is an encyclopaedia of monsters and great for character studies. Each monster is introduced through a diary entry and could be used as a springboard from which to write a story or some diary entries of your own.
And, lastly, a couple of Marmite love ’em or hate ’em books. Beware of the Frog by William Bee has the appeal of a book from your 1970s childhood with psychedelic colours and patterns and a wicked twist at the end. You wouldn’t want to kiss that frog. The Haunted House by Kazuno Kohara is a beautiful limited pallet picture book in orange, black and white about an innovative little witch who finds some very good uses for those pesky ghosts.
Charlotte Reed – Primary English Consultant Coventry
Pop over to our Spooky Stories Pinterest board too, where we have some more suggestions. Do feel free to leave some ideas here for us too, so we can add to the board.