SPOOKY season is in full swing in this little corner of the internet, and nothing beats curling up with a shrilling creepy story. If your middles are anything like mine, they love reading horror, paranormal fiction, and dark fantasy! This year I have decided to incorporate some of my favourite spooky stories into my short story unit to help captivate my middle readers. I’m sharing some of my favourite creepy reads that work well in my Language Arts classroom with middle schoolers.
1. THE TELL-TALE HEART BY EDGAR ALLAN POE
This short story is by far my all time favourite and continues to leave me with goosebumps after every read. The story follows an unreliable narrator who is mad yet he insists on his sanity after murdering an old man with a ‘vulture eye’. The murder is calculated and executed with precision as the narrator then hides the body by cutting it into pieces and then hiding it under the floorboards. This tale is sure to have your students fully immersed into the mind of a mad man.
2. THE MONKEY’S PAW BY W.W. JACOBS
The Monkey’s Paw is a must read each year. This suspenseful short story invites us into the White family home who are awaiting a guest. The guest arrives on a dark and stormy night, who has recently returned from colonial India and has in his possession a monkey’s paw which is said to be able to grant three wishes to its owner. Little do the Whites know of the devastating fate the paw brings with it.
3. MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN
succeeds in giving life to a being of his own creation. However, this is not the perfect specimen he imagines it will be, but rather a hideous creature who is rejected by Victor and the public in general.
. 4. THE LANDLADY BY ROALD DAHL
A classic Roald Dahl short, The Landlady! This story is about a young man, Billy Weaver, who lodges in a eerie boarding house. Billy Weaver travels alone on business and decides to stay in a seemingly cozy boarding house, where he is the only guest. The boarding house’s landlady explains that she has only ever had two other guests, whose names Billy recognizes as those of young men who disappeared. After serving him a strange-tasting cup of tea and complimenting his looks, the landlady tells Billy that her former guests are still there and reveals that she is a skilled taxidermist.
5. THE ELEVATOR BY WILLIAM SLEATOR
The Elevator is a short story about a young boy who has a fear of elevators, especially the creaky old elevator in his apartment. This story is sure to captivate your middles during this season.
6. THE RAVEN BY EDGAR ALLAN POE
Nothing beats Poe during this time of the year! The Raven is a famous poem by Edgar Allan Poe about a grieving man tormented by a raven. At midnight, the poem’s speaker hears a tapping on his door. When he opens the window, a raven flies in. The speaker is amused at first but then begins to ask the raven increasingly desperate questions. The bird always answers, “Nevermore.”
7. LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER BY ROALD DAHL
Roald Dahl’s “Lamb to the Slaughter” details Mary Maloney’s efforts to divert suspicion from herself in relation to her husband’s murder. Patrick Maloney informs his pregnant wife Mary that he is leaving her. In a fit of rage, Mary bludgeons Patrick with a frozen leg of lamb.
If you’re looking for novel recommendations to go along with these short stories for this time of year you can grab my bulletin board display for free HERE. This bulletin board includes a list spooky novel picks with trailer links, along with my favourite short stories.
I love getting middles hooked on spooky stories! Creating engaging displays, sharing horror novels and recommending books are a few ways I can hopefully excite my middle readers. Finding a genre that you love can be difficult for students to do, but exposing them to a variety of genres can lead to a love of reading and less grumbling each time you tell your students it’s time to read. So go ahead, read away if you DARE!