Halloween always comes at a perfect time during the school term when both teachers and students are ready to have some fun. Of course this means spooky moments with scary stories and mysterious scenes. A few weeks before Halloween is the perfect time to start getting into the mood with some readers. Halloween is surrounded with mystery, darkness and excitement – all of which teens love reading about.
The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde, Level 4
What happens when an American family inherits an old English mansion with a ghost? Will they run away or will they confront this new ’friend’?
- Start with a discussion about ghosts and old English houses. You can also talk about the differences between American and British English.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, Level 4
This story is a nice combination of themes such as superstition, ghosts and old beliefs.
- Bring a map to class and look at pictures of the area along the Hudson River.
- Find out about the history of Sleepy Hollow.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Level 4
“I’ll grow old and ugly. But this portrait will always stay young.” Artist Basil Hallward sees Dorian Gray at a party and suddenly feels that something bad is going to happen. But then the young and handsome Dorian becomes his friend and Basil paints the most wonderful picture of him. What does Dorian wish for when he sees his picture? And why does Dorian then hide his picture for no one to see?
- Find out more about the novel with our interactive lesson plan and project ideas: An Interactive Lesson Plan: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Dracula by Bram Stoker, Level 5
Tell your students that they will read the most original vampire story. This story will also take you all across Europe, from London through Transylvania to the Black Sea.
- Use a map to follow the journeys of Jonathan Harker.
- Compare this old story with other popular stories about vampires.
Tales of Mystery by Edgar Allan Poe, Level 5
This collection of three tales can be the perfect solution to engage some more reluctant readers. You will read about ghosts and supernatural cases, and explore mysterious places.
- Why not read a story in class? Focus on the discussion boxes and let your students share their feelings and opinions about the stories.
The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, Level 5
Who are these two men, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? This is a classic Gothic novel about the dual nature of man.
- Start with looking at the illustrations in the book to make predictions, and talk about the dark side of human nature.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Level 5
As a young scientist, Victor Frankenstein becomes obsessed with creating life. After searching desperately for material and isolating himself to complete his task, Frankenstein finally meets his own creation: only to be disgusted by it and then to reject it. So this monster, rejected by his own creator and all humankind, becomes first sad and then violent and wants revenge. Will Victor Frankenstein be able to stop his creation from taking his revenge?
- Read our Man or Monster: Frankenstein in the Classroom post for more ideas.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, Level 4
When a young girl accepts a position as governess to look after Flora and Miles little does she know that her job will be so difficult. Both children seem perfect and charming but after a few weeks at the grand house of Bly two strange figures appear. Are these figures real people or ghosts? And what influence do they have on the children? Can the governess protect Flora and Miles?
- Ask your students why people might believe in ghosts.
- Check out our Meet our favourite classic ghosts for ghost stories.
Would like more ideas?
- Visit our post on Halloween party costume ideas.
- Read our writing lesson plans: