October is underway and I’m here to help add a little fright to your language arts class! Recently, I sat down with author of spooky books, Jeff Szpirglas (who is also an educator), and his book and stories are just what we need this month! The book we discussed is for older students but he also writes for younger children and adults!
His book, Tales From the Fringes of Fear is definitely for grade five and above. It entails 13 short stories that leave the reader grappling with what the heck just happened? And it’s beautiful. In my recent chat with Jeff, he explained why he prefers short stories and how the ambiguity at the end is a lot like real life where there aren’t always happy endings or the situations are complex.
Wondering if this book is for you and your class or kids? Think Goonies meets Stranger Things. The theme of analog within our present life was a commonality. If you are looking for a book to keep yourself and students (or kids) interested and engaged, he nails it in these 10-12 minute, short stories. For the rest of October, you could tell one story a day!
There were so many teachable moments I just couldn’t pass up when reading these stories with my own students:
- Foreshadowing and analyzing clues
- Making inferences/Drawing Conclusions
- Discussing new vocabulary
- Plot twists and surprises
Here are some ideas to encourage creative writing after reading a short story from this book (or any short story):
- Continue the story and end it any way you choose
- Write a similar short story, one that leaves the reader hanging
- Write a creepy poem
- Compare two stories and explain the rating you give them (five stars or two stars)
- Write a letter to the author asking him questions you thought of while listening
- Create an illustration and explain how it goes with one of the stories.
Have Creepy Fun Reading and Writing
We loved Tales From the Fringes of Fear, but if you watch my bookchat, about 24 minutes in, Jeff Szpirglas reads “Bad Moon Rising” and if you click the button above, he reads another short story “The Lunchroom.” You can use these two stories to do all of the extenstion activities. We just hope you have some fun in your classroom this month. Some creepy fun, that is!
About The Author
Melody McAllister is a wife, mother of five, educator, and author. She and her family relocated to Alaska from the Dallas area in 2019. McAllister is 2017 Garland NAACP Educator of the Year and author of the I’m Sorry Story. She is also the Logistics Manager for EduMatch Publishing and Alice Keeler, LLC. McAllister has spoken at ISTE and ASTE about equity issues in education, and writes about her journey in her blog, HeGaveMeAMelody.com. If you would like to schedule an author read with your class, please contact her on Twitter or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join Melody’s BookChat every Wednesday at 8pm EST at YouTube.com/melodymcallister