When I was in college, my extra-awesome English department started the October Unhappy Hour to celebrate Halloween. We’d all get together, dress up, eat food (the more sugar and unnatural orange dye, the better), and listen to each other read spooky stories in the library for a few hours.
|Designed by Jennifer Williams|
Dressing up wasn’t mandatory, but many of those who did don costumes pulled out all the stops. One professor completely steam-punked himself, wearing, among other things, knee-high boots with way more buckles than necessary, a bowler hat, and some kind of futuristic eye goggles. My literary theory professor had a Victorian black-and-white striped dress on with a spray of black feathers shooting off from one shoulder. One of my friends wore a cloak—we usually didn’t let him out in public with it, but we made an exception for Halloween. His backpack crammed with physics homework underneath gave the appearance of a hunchback.
Reading material varied, too. Poe was a favorite, but Neil Gaiman’s work showed up as did Stephanie Meyer’s. Let me tell you, a passage from Twilight read aloud in a creepy voice by a classmate in a cape is a frightening thing undead. Er, indeed.
|Also designed by Jennifer Williams, the aforementioned literary theory prof|
Our Unhappy Hours were anything but unhappy, and I encourage all of you to host a Halloween story time yourself, no matter how old your audience members are. If you’re not sure which books to read, Neil Gaiman’s All Hallows Read website is a great place to start looking. (If you’re not familiar with All Hallows Read, it’s basically an encouragement from Neil Gaiman to buy your friends and relatives scary books for Halloween.)
Here are a few spine-tingling Lerner titles to share:
|by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff|
Attention, YA fans! This collection of eerie short stories by celebrated YA authors includes doodles and notes (see picture below) from the authors themselves and is perfect for fans of the weird, magical, and paranormal. And, drumroll please, there’s a sequel coming soon from these talented, slightly twisted authors.
|A spread with the authors’ notes|
|written by Larissa Theule and illustrated by Adam S. Doyle|
This middle-grade book is probably my favorite title of the season. The standalone-yet-intersecting stories revolve around slightly supernatural events that take place on a farm. Farmer Bald has just died, leaving his son Bones in control. Fat the fairy, Bones’s bitter enemy, is not happy about this. While their simmering resentment comes to a boil, a mouse fords an ocean of tears to reach his true love, a spider composes sonnets, and a pig dances fancy-free while the farmer’s wife prepares to make pig’s foot stew. This book will delight and terrify fourth graders on up.
These books are definitely more cute than terrifying, but they’re great for young readers who might have heard of creepy creatures but aren’t quite sure what they are. The eight-book series covers werewolves, zombies, vampires, fairy-tale witches, dragons, mummies, aliens, and ghosts.
|by Samuel Hiti|
|written by Laurie Friedman and illustrated by Teresa Murfin|