In Part 3, I talked about telling scary stories. Children love that anticipation of being scared. One of my most popular Jennie Stories, “The Bat Story”, is just that – being scared.
Adventure and ‘cliffhanger’ moments, when they really happened to your teacher, are gripping stories for children. Every word becomes a thread to hang on to. That means language and literacy is at a peak. Bonding with your teacher is an added bonus.
The Raccoon Story
“It happened like this.” Many years ago when my children were little, we lived in an old stone farm house in Ivyland, Pennsylvania. In the summer it often got very hot and we had no air conditioning. Our house had three doors, two on the front and one on the back. They each had a screen door, and those screens went all the way from the top to the bottom of the door. On hot days we opened the doors wide and just used the screen doors.
One night in August it was so hot! The doors were opened wide and the screen doors were latched. I was upstairs in bed reading before I turned off the light to go to sleep. Oh, no! I could tell that I’d left the kitchen light on. So, I climbed out of bed, went downstairs to the kitchen… and there in the middle of the kitchen floor was a raccoon! He was huge. The whole bottom of the screen door had been ripped open by his little paws. And, there in the kitchen was our dog, frozen, and staring at him.
We kept the dog food bowl by the kitchen door. On that hot summer night the raccoon must have smelled the food and torn open the screen to get it. I didn’t know what to do, so I yelled for my husband, “Steve!” A few seconds later I heard his feet running down the stairs. He ran into the kitchen, saw the raccoon, and like the others, he froze and stared.
Then he said through gritted teeth, not really moving his body, “Jennie, get me the broom. Please.” I did. With fear and bravery he scooted the raccoon out the door with the broom. Whew!
Then my husband said, “Jennie, I want to make sure the raccoon is gone. I’ll just open the door and have a look.” I wasn’t so sure about this.
I said, “Well, I don’t know…” but he cut me off to reassure me everything was fine. He opened the door and looked to the left. No raccoon. Then he looked to the right. No raccoon. So he closed the door and we headed back up the stairs to bed. Then he said, “You know, I really should make sure that old raccoon is gone. I’ll just step outside and have a look.”
This is where children’s eyes grow big and they shake their heads ‘no’. The anticipation of something big happening swells. They know it’s coming.
I said, “Steve, I really don’t think this is a good idea.” “Jennie, don’t worry”, he said. “It will be fine.”
He opened the door and looked to the left. No raccoon. Then he looked to the right, and there was the raccoon! The raccoon started to chase him. We had a root cellar in the yard, so Steve started running around it in circles, hoping to make a dash back inside. One, two, three times he ran around that root cellar with the raccoon chasing him, yelling, “Jennie!” And guess what? He was wearing his underwear! Peals of laughter! After that night, we made sure we never kept the dog food bowl beside the kitchen door, especially on hot summer nights.”
That story brings howls of laughter from all the children. It is a favorite, along with “The Bat story”. Then, there’s “The Bird Story”, “The Spider Story”, “The Tree Story”, “The Halloween Story”, and at least ten more. I’ll post as many as I can this summer. They’re all true, and I hope they inspire you to tell your own stories.