I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts!

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Jackie Hemond

Jackie Hemond

Now we have entered the scary month. Boo-o-o-o-! When I had young children, it was the favorite month of the year. Groaning skeletons and shrieking bats donned our house from the first of September through November. Decorative turkeys just couldn’t compete. And though I am scared silly by Stephen King books, I loved spooky tales, ghost walks and haunted hayrides. My children did too. Our bedtime stories were filled with witches, goblins and alien spaceships.

I never thought to ban scary stories from my children, but in a recent survey, about one-third of British parents do. Afraid of nightmares, they avoid the Big Bad Wolf in “Little Red Riding Hood”, the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz and Cruella de Ville, the villain in One Hundred and One Dalmatians.

Psychologists say that parents shouldn’t be afraid of the Big Bad Wolf. Instead of causing nightmares, he’s forgettable. The image of his drooling, pointy teeth disappear from a child’s mind once the book is closed. The crone in the candy house who craved roasted children is another full-fledged nightmare in some parents’ eyes. However, because Hansel and Gretel had pluck and survived not only the witch but also a nasty stepmother, they serve as role models. Fears can be faced and overcome. Additionally stories can often (but not always) conjure a much more horrific world than a child’s actual life. Scary stories are cathartic and demonstrate, better than any parent, the power of good and evil. But sometimes a scary story is just fun, like the shivery tingle of a roller coaster ride – pure pleasurable anxiety. There is so much good in a scary story that you need to scare your children, grandchildren and neighborhood children – tonight!

While you’re at it, tell them to scare you by writing a scary story. (Or write one yourself!) October is the time for the library’s Spell Me a Scary Story Contest. Suffield adults and children, from first grade through high school, can enter a 1,000 words or less story for the contest. The prizes are funded by The Friends of the Kent Memorial Library. The deadline for the contest is October 15. Complete rules are on the library’s website, suffield-library.org.

Newsflash: One of the best reasons for reading – book readers live longer, scientists say!

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