Thursday Reviews at Inklings

Suffice it to say that Halloween is going to look a little different this year. Why not make Halloween 2020 an out-of-the-box experience?  The crisp autumn weather makes the perfect time for a cozy family read along. Choose a ghost story, pop some corn or make some hot chocolate, and settle in for a spooky middle grades chapter book. These books are written at the 5th-6th grade reading level and would be perfect to read aloud to your upper elementary aged youngsters. Each is scary, but not too scary, and captivatingly suspenseful.

Trace, by Pat Cummings. This story’s most exciting events take place on Halloween in New York City.  Trace's parents were recently killed in a tragic car accident and he has been sent to Brooklyn to live with his eccentric Auntie Lea. While working on a school project at the New York Public Library  he finds himself wandering lost in a remote part of the vast basement. There he meets the ghost of a little orphan boy from 1863. It’s a terrific ghost story about grief, family, acceptance, and self-confidence.

If you were a middle grader in the nineties you may remember Wait Till Helen Comes, by the first lady of middle grades suspense, Mary Downing Hahn. In Wait Till Helen Comes  three siblings deal with an entity who tries to lure the children into the pond behind their home in order to see them drown. Many consider Wait Till Helen Comes the flagship of children’s chapter suspense. Your audience will be in the palm of your hand!

Also by Mary Downing Hahn is Took: A Ghost Story. In this one, 13 year old Daniel moves from posh Connecticut to rural West Virginia.  His new classmates tell him the mountain tale of the Ghost Witch who steals children, especially little girls. Daniel is pretty sure he is getting the “new kid treatment” until his little sister goes missing. Was she “took”?

Here are other recommended ghostly titles we have in the shop this week:

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

The Puppet’s Payback and Other Chilling Tales by Mary Downing Hahn

Scary Stories to Tell To Tell in the Dark and More Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark both by Alvin Schwartz

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Many times we don’t consider reading to children past the time when they can read to themselves. But reading to your older children has at least three important benefits. You are modeling the behavior of a reader. Children from homes where books are important are more likely to be lifelong readers. Secondly, sharing a story often allows conversations on bigger subjects like peer pressure, choices, empathy, and compassion. But most importantly, it’s fun! It’s screen-free! It’s a just-for-us time that builds special memories and strengthens family bonds. I hope you take this opportunity to make this unusual Halloween especially SPOOKtacular!

Review by Luanne Clark.