Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Books for Beastly Boys and Ghastly Girls

Do your children like scary stuff? If they like to watch movies that have the rest of us under our seats, but are reluctant to read, I have one word for you: Goosebumps! These books by R.L.Stine may be disparaged by literary purists, but with millions sold world-wide, kids are certainly reading them. While I personally find them violent and simplistic, if my child wanted to read them, I'd cheer him on! Then, with typical Book Chook sneakiness, I'd see if I could use them as a springboard to guide him to other books.

The Scholastic site has some fun stuff to support Goosebumps books. Kids can make their own monster with 
Goosebump's MONSTER MAKER, by choosing from a range of body parts, then press play to see their monster come to life. They can also print out the background picture. It would make a great start to creating a story guaranteed to send shudders up any spine. While you're at the Scholastic site, take a look at the Goosebumps Graphix Game, Find Your Family, and all sorts of other activities for "ghouls on the go"!

Once children get started with Goosebumps, they might enjoy other "scary" books. Talk to your friendly librarian or book store owner, or check out some book-alike lists like this one from
Sterling Municipal Library. If your child has seen Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, he might enjoy the books the movie was based on. There are some great creative activities at the Lemony Snicket web site, including one for inventing your way out of a dire situation.

What goes well with reading scary stories? Why, writing scary stories of course! Your kids might like to write a play they can perform, and accompany it with a soundscape. Soundscapes can be made ahead by recording all sorts of noises on a tape or computer. If that's too prescriptive for the performance, they can try using noisemakers and their own voices used at will during the play. A fun idea is to turn the lights off and read the story by torchlight, accompanied by your soundscape, so the audience relies only on their hearing and imaginations. OOOOH!

Some fantasy books have just enough scare factor to make them a logical next step for Goosebumps readers. The Deltora Quest series is a very popular one, and there's a lot of support material for it at the Scholastic site, too. Kids can choose to
play games, learn more about the characters and books, and practise the sorts of challenges they will find in Deltora, "the land of magic and monsters."

Once kids become fans of the series, they might want to see what else this wonderful Australian author has written.
Emily Rodda's Rowan of Rin books come highly recommended, and The Wizard of Rondo has been shortlisted for a Children's Book Council of Australia Award 2009.

Don't despair if your child wants to be a beastly boy or ghastly girl. Go with the flow that goes bump in the night, and let them read scary stories. Once seduced by the thrill of books that put them inside a ghost house or monster's cave, it's not such a stre-e-etch to go further along the pathway to reading.

And that's exactly where we want them to be!

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