Most children I’ve met love a spooky, scary story. They love to huddle in a tent, flashlight beneath their chins, and whisper about the scarecrow that climbs down from his post and creeps through their neighborhood at night. They love to shriek with terror when the family dog scratches against the tent wall, whining to join the fun.
It’s a rare campfire when someone doesn’t share a ghoulish ghost story. Everyone peers into the shadows beyond the firelight, excited with nervous anticipation that the ghost might be listening too.
But, take away the sleepover in the tent, the campfire… and where do these children find their tantalizing tales of terror?
In books, of course.
In 2010, author Neil Gaiman had a brilliant idea while on a flight home. Why not, he mused, combine the delight of a morbid monster story with the gifting of books. On that flight was born a new tradition.
It’s a simple tradition. Give someone (even yourself) a scary book either the week of Halloween, or on that special night.
You could just buy a book and give it to a child you know. But you could also give comic books or small paperback books instead of candy as your Trick or Treat offering. Or maybe, along with the candy, because you do not want all those little monsters coming to your door to go all Hulk on you. Yeah, better make the book a bonus to go along with the sugar-high.
Tell them a good book is just as scary as their dad leaping out from the bushes wearing their grandma’s wig and wax vampire teeth. Tell them reading a good scary book will give them ideas they can use when they grow up and write their own books. Tell them that one day they can give those books to their own children when it’s too cold to build a campfire or it’s raining buckets and the tent has a hole in it.
On the off chance there are no children in your life and you don’t know a single child belonging to someone else, give a scary book to an adult who enjoys childrens’ books. Or an adult who just acts like a child.
Will you be gifting someone, or yourself, with a scary book this All Hallow’s Read? Which book will it be, and why? I’m gifting a young lady who loves to read and to write her own stories with a copy of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz. She’ll have fun with this book for years, as she reads to her younger cousins. For myself, it’s going to have to be The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.