Sunday, March 1, 2009

Introduction to the Horror and Suspense Genre

Why This Genre is Important

Horror and suspense is an important genre to include in the classroom. It gives students a greater selection of books to choose from and read. If adolescences enjoy reading fantasy they might find that horror books appeal to them as well. Boys especially like reading horror books because they include, at times, gruesome descriptions of supernatural characters such as vampires and monsters. Also, many students will select a suspenseful book because they know that it is going to be fast paced and exciting. This genre of books keeps readers on the edge of their seats trying to see how the story turns out. As educators, we want our students to want to find enjoyment from their reading selections. So, if the genre of horror and suspense encourages them to pick up a book and read, we should support their literary selection.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions:

How frequently is suspense books used in the classroom?
From our experience, this isn’t a genre frequently used in the classroom. When this genre is incorporated into the curriculum many teachers choose classics such as Edgar Allen Poe which is not favored by many students. However, there are interesting lessons teachers can use such as mini lessons with Stephen King’s books.

How do you judge age/grade level?
We would judge grade and age level based on the content in the story. Horror and suspense for young readers isn’t going to be too intense. However, if at a particular time the student feels uncomfortable with the content they will be encouraged to stop. Also we advocate for parental involvement when choosing controversial books.

What are the statistics for comparing horror movie viewers versus horror book readers?
There aren’t very many statistics comparing horror movie viewers and book readers. In many cases students who enjoy horror and suspense movies will find satisfaction from reading horror and suspense novels.

What is the audience for horror/suspense books?
Anyone can enjoy this genre. If students like to read fantasy, science fiction, or mysteries they will probably like this type of book.

Do they cause nightmares?
We encourage personal discretion. Anyone can have nightmares from a variety of media, not just horror and suspense books. If the student isn’t comfortable reading the book, we would help them choose a less graphic or intense book.

What is the connection with violence and horror/suspense?
We don’t believe that there is really a connection between violence and horror/suspense. Many horror books use fantasy plots rather than real like events. For example, a one-eyed violent monster isn’t going to encourage students to pursue violent behavior. Horror and suspense books do not advocate violence; if there is violence present it has a minor role in the plot.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Top Four Resources for Future Classes:

Everything you would like to know about this genre :

Lists of books updated frequently :

Describes the horror genre:
A list of books and authors for the horror genre:

Where to find the best Horror and Suspense Books:

Horror and suspense book reviews for all ages:

  • The following is the official website for the author of the Fearstreet series. It also include teacher resources.

Research articles:

  • The following article is about how teachers can capture reluctant readers by introducing them to suspense stories and poems of ghost and mysteries. This article discusses how teachers can use horror and suspense in their classrooms through cultural awareness and creativity to intrigue their students.

  • This next article provides movie adaptions to books of horror, suspense, and many other genres.

  • The following article disscusses the success of young adult horror books. The author analyzes the qualities that make these books popular for young adults while also covering major controversial issues with the genre.

Techniques to use when reading Suspense and Horror:

Story Map: Movie/Book
The student will read a horror and suspense book and complete a story map. After reading the book the student will watch a movie related to the book they read. While watching the movie, the student will fill out another story map.

Reflection: Movie vs. Book
The student reflection will compare and contrast the book and movie story maps. Students will share similarities and differences between the book and movie.


Red Rider's Hood
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Puffin, 2006
Summary: After learning that there are werewolves in his city, a sixteen-year-old is even more surprised to discover the identities of the hunters who drove them out decades earlier, but he soon infiltrates the Wolves gang to help destroy them for good.

Why we recommend it: This book provided a fast pace, unique telling of the classic Little Red Riding Hood tale we are all very familiar with, while adding an interesting twist.

Fearstreet Series
Author: R.L. Stein
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Summary: Kody Frasier returns to 99 Fear Street to star in a movie about the evil that had murdered her sister, Cally, but Cally's ghost has vengeful plans of her own.

Why we would recommend it: R.L. Stine has continued to capture young readers with his compelling mysteries and world of the supernatural.

Don't Look Behind You

Author: Lois Duncan
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Summary from Novelist: “Seventeen-year-old April finds her comfortable life changed forever when death threats to her father, a witness in a federal case, force her family to go into hiding under assumed names and flee the pursuit of a hired killer. Includes material on the Federal Witness Protection Program.”

Why we would recommend it: This is a gripping, fast paced read that’s hard to put down.

Raven's Gate

Author: Anthony HorowitzPublisher: Scholastic Press
Summary from Novelist: “Sent to live in a foster home in a remote Yorkshire village, Matt, a troubled fourteen-year-old English boy, uncovers an evil plot involving witchcraft and the site of an ancient stone circle.”

Why we recommend it: This book is book one in an upcoming series. Its terror and mystery keep this quick-paced book in the hands of readers waiting to see what will happen next.


Author: Annette Curtis Klause
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Summary from Cynthia Leitich Smith: “A sensual exploration of Vivian's longing for a calm life beyond her wolf pack. She falls in love with a human, what her people call a "meat boy," but she wonders whether he will accept her for what she is. Though her wolf nature is explored in all its bloodiness, at times she could be any teenager who's not sure who she is or where she fits. More fantasy than horror; one sexy werewolf story. One of my favorite YA books of all time! Ages 12-up. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION”.

Why we would recommend it: We would recommend Blood and Chocolate because it is a growing of age novel that shows teens that they can endure friendships and love and the trust and sense of belonging that comes with that. This is also a classic that combines horror and suspense with romance that makes a great enticing read.


The Graveyard Book

Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrator: Dave Mckean
Publisher: Harper Collins, 2008
Summary from NoveList: "Nobody Owens is a normal boy, except that he has been raised by ghosts and other denizens of the graveyard."

Why we recomment it: This makes a fantastic read for all young

The Red Ghost

Author: Marion Dane Bauer
Illustrator: Peter Fergusen
Summary from NoveList: "After Jenna gives her little sister an old doll dressed in red velvet as a birthday present, the occurrence of some very disturbing events make Jenna suspect the doll might be possessed."

Why we would recomment it: This would be a great book for new readers because of the page format of text and pictures. It is also great in introducing readers to a suspensful and scary genre while not being too scary.

Coraline: Graphic Novel

Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: Harpercollins Childrens Books
Summary from Novelist: “Coraline ventures through a mysterious door into a world that is similar, yet disturbingly different from her own, where she must challenge a gruesome entity in order to save herself, her parents, and the souls of three others.”

Why we would recommend it: This is a different take on horror and suspense. The format of a graphic novel makes this book really interesting. Also, since it is coming out in movie form soon, it would be interesting to read before viewing the movie.

Stonewords: a Ghost Story

Author: Pam Conrad
Publisher: Harper & Row
Summary from Novelist: “Zoe discovers that her house is occupied by the ghost of an eleven-year-old girl, who carries her back to the day of her death in 1870 to try to alter that tragic event.”

Why we would recommend it: This is a suspenseful story which unites the past with the present when the main character Zoe goes back in time to save her ghostly friend.

Danger at the Fair

Author: Peg Kehret
Publisher: Cobblehill Books/Dutton
Summary from Novelist: “Ellen receives a spirit message during a séance at the county fair, warning that her brother Corey is in danger and that she must rescue him.”

Why we would recommend it: This third book in the series is fast paced, exciting, and will keep the readers in suspense.

Lily’s Ghosts

Author: Laura Ruby
Publisher: Harper Collins
Summary: Thirteen year old Lily and her mom are new in town. They just moved into her great Uncle’s Victorian home in Cape May NJ where inexplicable things begin to happen. Lily and her new friend are determined to get to the bottom of things. Ghostly pranks and secrets unravel in this haunted and ghost chilling adventure.

Why we would recommend it: We would recommend this book because it has an intriging plot with a great twist in the end. At this age readers are being introduced to ghost and the supernatural and this is a great book that will guide them for more independent reading in the future.