And I added a dimension to our discussion this month by asking my staff members to read an article in addition to a novel. This is something that really added to our genre discussion and it's something I'm going to continue doing each month.
There has been a lot written about scary stories and children, so I passed out three articles and made one required reading. I found these articles on Inspire, our state library database search, and printed out or ran off copies for each of my staff members.
- "Don't Let a Good Scare Frighten You: Choosing and Using Quality Chillers to Promote Reading" by Patricia O. Richards, Debra H. Thatcher, Michelle Shreeves, Peggy Timmons, and Sallie Barker (The Reading Teacher, Vol. 52, No. 8, May 1999).
- "The Alluring Darkness: Finding Belonging in Fangs and Wands" by Chase M. Will (YALS, Summer 2008).
- "Scary Stories, Mixed Feelings" by Pat Miller (LibrarySparks, October 2011).
We had a great discussion about the appeal of the horror genre for kids (something we saw first-hand when we brought creepy stories to booktalk to a local fourth grade class earlier this month). Sometimes, things that are very scary to adults are actually not that scary to kids (Richards et al., 1999) and changing stories to make them less violent and frightening can actually make them scarier. Richards et. al give the example of Little Red Riding Hood being scarier when the wolf runs away at the end (instead of being killed) because the wolf is still out there!
Reading scary stories can help children work through their fears, experiencing capable characters that solve the mystery and/or defeat the bad guys. Horror is also a socially acceptable medium for reading about and exploring deeper issues, such as coming of age (Will, 2008).
Reading and discussing these articles helped my staff see horror in a new light and gives us some ammo to defend this genre, which is super popular with kids and not always so popular with adults.
Again, we shared our booktalks for the following books (I'm designating the slightly scary titles, as reported by my staff):
- Are You Afraid Yet?: The Science Behind Scary Stuff by James O'Meara
- The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand
- Coraline by Neil Gaiman
- Doll Bones by Holly Black (slightly scary)
- Final Cut by Tony Bradman
- Ghosts I Have Been by Richard Peck (slightly scary)
- Gustav Gloom and the People Taker by Adam-Troy Castro (slightly scary)
- Half-Minute Horrors by various authors
- Haunted U.S.A. by Charles Wetzel
- The Haunting of Swain's Fancy by Brenda Seabrook
- Hook Moon Night: Spooky Tales from the Georgia Mountains by Faye Gibbins
- The Nightmarys by Dan Poblocki
- Voodoo Child by Tony Bradman
- The Wooden Mile (Something Wickedly Weird) by Chris Mould (slightly scary)
- Zombiekins by Kevin Bolger (slightly scary, funny)
I'm pleased that we had a wide variety of books talked about at our meeting this month. We definitely had a range of scary to not-scary that came about organically, and even some nonfiction. Huzzah!
Our topic for next month is nonfiction, which I'm limiting to narrative nonfiction. I explained that narrative nonfiction is nonfiction that tells a story, rather than a textbook that contains lists of facts. I passed out a list of the Sibert Medal Winners and Honor Books and encouraged staff to choose a book from this list if they have any doubts. I'm emphasizing narrative nonfiction because that's where I see kids needing readers' advisory. If they're looking to learn information about snakes, we can answer that reference question. If they're interested in reading true stories for fun, narrative nonfiction may fit the bill. Teachers, also, may be looking for more narrative nonfiction as our school corporation continues to move to the Common Core Standards.
I also assigned an article to read that we'll discuss next month: "Making Nonfiction Accessible for Young Readers" by Sue Christian Parsons (Reading Today, October/November 2012). I'm really excited about the direction our Reading Wildly program is taking and looking forward to our next discussion!
What are you reading? Any favorite narrative nonfiction titles to share?