Storytelling: A Halloween Story


Storytelling is, and has always been, the foundation for language and learning.  I write about children, yet storytelling applies to all people.  Words and ideas are how we start to learn, and how we continue to learn.

Everybody loves a good, gripping story.  I am the storyteller at school, and all my stories are true- things that happened to me in my childhood.  A pretend story starts with Once Upon a Time.  A true story starts with It Happened Like This.

Whenever I say the words, “It happened like this”, children are captivated.  They know it is a ‘Jennie Story’ and a true story.  Best of all, they are getting far more words and language into their brains because storytelling has no pictures.

This is “The Halloween Story”.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  Children beg for this story even in the summer.

“It Happened Like This”… When I was eight years old I went trick-or-treating with my little sister, Sarah.  Back then children went trick-or-treating alone.  There were no Moms or Dads.  And, we never went out until it was really dark.  All the way dark.  I dressed up as Raggedy Ann and Sarah dressed up as a scarecrow (although she looked more like a hobo than a scarecrow).  We each had a pillow case to collect all the candy which we called our ‘loot’.  We were so excited!

Then my mother said, “Jennie, don’t forget to go trick-or-treating at Mrs.  Crotty’s house.”  Mrs. Crotty!  She was really old.  She always looked mean and she never smiled.  Her house was dark brick with big bushes and trees everywhere.  Everything was always dark.  Her house was as old as she was.

I said nothing to my mother.

Sarah and I headed out trick-or-treating.  We had the best time!  We got tons of candy, too.  When we got back home we dumped our pillowcases out on the rug in the den and sorted through all the candy.  I gave Sarah all my Tootsie Roll Pops and she gave me all her Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Yum!

Then my mother said, “Did you go trick-or-treating at Mrs. Crotty’s?”  I had forgotten, of course.  When I heard her words I felt like a lightening bolt had hit me while I was falling off a roller coaster.  Again she said, “Well, did you go to Mrs. Crotty’s house?”  All I could do was look down and shake my head.  My mother was not happy!  She said, “Jennie, I told you to go.  So take your sister’s hand and go right now”.

I took Sarah’s hand and we went back outside together.  Now it was really dark and trick-or-treat was over.  There were no lights on at anyone’s house.  We slowly walked to Mrs. Crotty’s house.  As we turned the sidewalk and walked up her walkway I squeezed Sarah’s hand and she squeezed mine.  I was so scared.  We got to Mrs. Crotty’s porch which was pitch black and surrounded by weird branches.  As we approached the front door I said to my sister, “You knock.”  “Oh, no” she said, “Mother told you to do it.”  So, I took a deep breath and knocked on the door.

A moment later I heard the door slowly creak open.  Just as I was ready to run away, the lights came on and there stood Mrs. Crotty, smiling.  I’d never seen her smile before.  She said, “Hi Jennie.  Hi Sarah.  Come in.”  We stepped inside the door.  “Wait right there!”  We didn’t move.  She ran to the back of the house and returned with two gigantic popcorn balls, covered in melted butter and caramel.  They were still warm.  Yum!

And I was so afraid.  Silly me.


P.S.  This is a popular ‘Jennie story’ in my classroom.  Happy Halloween!

About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
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21 Responses to Storytelling: A Halloween Story

  1. Ah, the good old days, when a popcorn ball wasn’t something to be afraid of. 😉

  2. Norah says:

    I love your story, Jennie. You obviously should have trusted your mother! I understand why the children enjoy it so much. Hopefully stories like this will help them overcome their fears.

  3. I love the way you differentiate between a made-up story and a true one. I’ve been thinking of a Bonfire Night post for my blog using memories from my childhood. Each time I’ve started to write I’ve stalled because ‘once upon a time’ is wrong but then what is right? You have inspired me! I won’t borrow your words, but I will try to think of something similar. Your true story is wonderful, no wonder it is such a favourite.
    Writing was a problem to me as a child and in some ways it still is. I was labelled stupid in school. In my forties, I decided to do something about it and went to night school to take my very first GCSE. I followed that with an A level (just one) and then went on to become a qualified accountant. Gaining those letters after my name meant so much. All it took was a caring teacher at night school – she gave me confidence and then sent me off to a centre for Dyslexia. I’m not stupid, and never have been I just have a few problems with words.
    I marked your blog as one I wanted to read some months ago, and I’m so glad I did. You remind me of the teacher I met at night school.

    • Jennie says:

      Barbara! Thank you so much for all you have shared with me. I so enjoyed reading what you had to say that I had to read it twice. If I remind you of that night school teacher who inspired you… well, then I am blessed. Thank you! Please, please use “It happened like this” if that works for you. Again, many thanks for your thoughts and story.

  4. Hayley says:

    What a lovely tale! I can see why the children love that story xx

  5. srbottch says:

    I loved it. I actually felt the hair on my neck rising. It reminded me of an episode in my young life in loving and old woman and a spooky old house. The house was real but the woman was a figment of my imagination. I may have to write about it. Thanks for your creative mind. Words really are great and listening, instead of watching, is so much more stimulating.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you! And by the way, what name do you like to be called? I tell the story in the dark of course. You are right that words are the golden key, in so many ways.

      • srbottch says:

        Words and arranging them to elicit feelings is why I started writing last year. A mental challenge to keep sharp. You do a very effective job at that. I struggle to get it right but that’s the challenge, isn’t it? Have a great weekend. Your friend, Steve

      • Jennie says:

        Thank you, Steve. Yes, arranging words to elicit feelings is what we both like to do. The challenge always is to get it right. I sometimes assume my readers know or follow my words, yet I have learned that is typically not the case. I try to write as if it is a new, clean slate for the reader. When I do that, it is a good thing. Have a great weekend.

  6. Haha. Never judge a book by its cover? Great story!

  7. Tanya says:

    I ❤️ this story so much! I’ve recently gotten into a bit of a rut with my writing but I found this so inspirational in the sense that it was so cleverly written! Using memories mixed with fiction is so fresh! It gives a realistic tone to a fun story and that is what I love about your writing!! I am defo going to try this on my blog!

  8. I loved the way u wrote it….nice story ❤😊

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