I love the fall. I hate Halloween. I love apple cider. I hate blood and gore. I love pumpkins, but Jack-o-lanterns creep me out. I love to read books, but I hate to watch horror films. It’s pretty black and white with me. Some would say I’m boring or too literal. I say, “To thine own self be true.”
When I was 20, I saw “Friday the 13th.” It was peer pressure, pure and simple. I didn’t sleep well for weeks. When I was 30, I saw “Silence of the Lambs.” I was well into my third trimester with my daughter, Hannah. I had no idea what the movie was about when I entered the theater. My unborn baby got so much adrenaline that evening that she could have auditioned for River Dance and been a shoo-in. I’m still trying to forgive my husband for that ill-advised date.
I’ve never watched “Jaws,” “The Exorcist,” “The Shining,” “Nightmare on Elm Street” or “Poltergeist.” I’d rather curl up with a good book. There’s never any manipulative musical score lurking in the pages of a book, and if the story line gets overly suspenseful, I can just put the book aside for a while.
Oct 31 is fast approaching, but I am not putting up any freaky porch decorations, planning a trip to the local haunted house, or taking any spooky hayrides. I just despise being scared or startled. The physical electric shocks that run up my arms are not pleasant. The pounding heart is no fun either.
I am not alone. According to Dr. Glenn Sparks, a Purdue University communications professor who studies people’s reactions to terrifying imagery in media, about one-third of the population falls into this category. He says our kind just doesn’t see any redeeming value to stories that leave us frozen with fear. However, that leaves about two-thirds who do.
The 2011 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey by the National Retail Federation indicates that seven out of 10 Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this season – the largest number in the nine years that the NRF has conducted the poll. Spending is expected to be a little over $72 per person with total expenditures tallying $6.86 billion. That’s a whole lot of candy corn and faux spider webs, if you ask me!
In a WebMD article, Dr. Sparks said that some studies show that males like to be scared more than females. "It's not that they truly enjoy being scared, but they get great satisfaction being able to say that they conquered and mastered something that was threatening. They enjoy the feeling that they ‘made it through.’”
Some girls fit into this category for sure. I had middle school and college friends that loved riding roller coasters and jumping off the 10-meter diving tower at a nearby water park. Some of my daughters’ friends fit this category. You probably have a few of these future bungee jumpers in your own classrooms right now! Very often they are the ones with the skinned knees, casts on their arms and oozing shenanigans. If you can harness this energy and direct it, these kids can learn all sorts of things and be highly successful. I like to think of these children as leaders in disguise!
…So, I remind you to know your children – whether they are your own or kids in the classroom. Some will gravitate toward scary tales like zombies to a graveyard, while other sensitive types will prefer more sanitized or realistic tales. Know where your children are developmentally. It’ll help you direct them to reading material they will enjoy. Understanding their families’ cultural backgrounds and spiritual beliefs are an additional piece to the diversity puzzle. Your Hispanic children may observe the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos), while others may observe All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day or Reformation Day.
Children’s Halloween Books at Big Universe
- Five Trick-or-Treaters, Grades K and up.
- Gruesome Grub Halloween Party, Grades K and up.
- Kid's Halloween Party, Grades K and up.
- Halloween, Grades K and up. (Audio included)
- When I Go Trick-or-Treating, Grades 1 and up.
- Haunted Party, Grades 1-2.
- Boo Cow, Grades 1-3.
- Penelope and the Monsters, Grades 2-3.
- Haunted Houses, Grades 4-6.
- Ghosts, Grades 4-6.
- The Secret of Grim Hill, Book 1, Grades 4-6.
- Grim Hill, Book 2: The Secret Deepens, Grades 4-6.
- The Shade, Grades 5-9.
Have a fun and SAFE holiday. (Don’t forget to brush those teeth and floss after sampling your Halloween candy. )
*NOTE: For the adrenaline junkies in your classroom, check out the children's picture books highlighted in the Big Universe blog “Extreme Sports Books for the Reluctant Reader.”
* NOTE: Don’t forget to enter the Charlesbridge dragon-themed writing contest for children, K-3rd Grade. The deadline for entries is Dec. 31, 2011. Prizes include an author school visit and a $100 certificate for books. Click this contest submission guidelines link to read more about the rules.