Telling a Halloween Story – A Classic “Jennie 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.  I told it today to a captive audience.  You could have heard a pin drop.

“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!  Oh, no!  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.  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 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 am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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87 Responses to Telling a Halloween Story – A Classic “Jennie Story”

  1. Opher says:

    I bet she was so delighted to see you! You made her day! What a lovely story.

  2. I would have been so delighted, whether I were Mrs. Crotty or you girls!

    I love popcorn balls. ❤

  3. Our imaginations can really do a number on us sometimes!

  4. beth says:

    our imaginations are powerful and I love your stories

  5. Agreed: there’s a gripping power to great storytelling! We can see ourselves in parts of the story, and the story becomes part of us. Thank you for sharing part of yourself (as the storyteller) with us!

  6. Your wonderful story brought back childhood memories… Oh, the beautiful lessons we learn, even on Halloween! ❤ Lovely share, Jennie. xo HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

    • Jennie says:

      I’m glad it brought back childhood memories, Bette. That’s the best! Our trick-or-treating was far different than today. We had to be brave, and we were alone! Those lessons are so very important. Thank you! ❤️

  7. I so love this. In our day, there were some houses where none of us wanted to go. One big old mansion had these two absolutely huge dogs named Amos and Andy, and their size alone was enough to scare the bravest child, but one bark from them and we all nearly had accidents in our costumes! But one day one of the children ventured near them at that giant iron gate, and the dogs came up and licked him happily, barking now and then to show their appreciation. They were Great Danes, a dog type we were not familiar with, but now if I ever see any again, I will know that they are actually good and friendly dogs. Not quite the same as getting nice homemade popcorn balls. Oh, I so remember those!

    • Jennie says:

      I love your story! I can imagine those two big barking dogs, and watching that brave child approach them. When we were out on our own and had to figure things out ourselves, even in the dark on Halloween, those were great moments. The popcorn balls were definitely an added plus. 🙂 Thank you, Anne.

    • Thanks as always, Jennie. I miss those days a lot and I miss all the times I was able to make things to brighten the holidays for the children.

  8. AJ says:

    Aww what an awesome story!!!

  9. jilldennison says:

    The wonder of this story is in the telling … the build up … I half expected her to come out wielding an axe!!! Great story, my friend!

  10. Ritu says:

    Aw so cute 🥰 🎃

  11. beetleypete says:

    I have a fond memory of Mrs Crotty, from previous tellings of the tale. You teach the kids a valuable life lesson with this story, Jennie. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  12. Norah says:

    A wonderful Jennie story. Happy Halloween!

  13. GP Cox says:

    It teaches us not to lose our heads….

  14. quiall says:

    What a lovely memory. And an important lesson on several levels!

  15. What a great Halloween story! I bet she was thrilled to see you and share those popcorn balls with you both. They sound delicious!

  16. Such a good story, Jennie. I’m going to tell this to my grandson. It’s perfect. Happy Halloween.

  17. I can see why the kids were captive! Great story.

  18. kevin cooper says:

    Lol… Great story, Jennie. Happy Halloween! 🙂

  19. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you for another wonderful story!

  20. Dan Antion says:

    Just like the children, I love Jennie stories.

  21. I love it, Jennie! I could almost feel that warm popcorn ball in my “little” hands. You captured the child’s perspective perfectly. As I read, I was small and looking up at everything. Happy Halloween hugs, my friend!

  22. Great story, Jennie. I think I lived this one as well.

    • Jennie says:

      You did? Do tell what happened! 🎃 Thanks, John.

      • We had an old woman on our block that we used to avoid. Her house was run down and the weed filled yard was surrounded by a metal fence. She was always in black. One Halloween I was double dared to trick or treat there. I went to the door shaking like a leaf and croaked “trick or treat.” The door flew open and I almost lost everything inside me. Turns out she had a bunch of Hersey big bars and gave me three or four (Might have been two but I can’t remember) She was so nice. All my frends went to her door after I showed them my big bars.

      • Jennie says:

        I love your story, John! It reminds me of the movie, The Sandlot. Way to go for being the brave one. Do you have any idea how huge that was for you and how that made you who you are today? I do.

      • No, I never thought of it until your story. Thanks, Jennie.

      • Jennie says:

        You’re welcome, John.

  23. A great lesson for all kids. 😉 Love how you tell stories.

  24. Lovely story, Jennie! My mother used to make popcorn balls for trick-or-treat.

  25. The Hook says:

    We all knew a Mrs. Crotty back in the day.
    She was scarier in our minds than reality.
    I bet you made her year with your unintentional act of kindness.

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story.

    • Jennie says:

      I think we all we all knew a Mrs. Crotty who was scarier in our minds. Here’s where I make the leap (or try) to kindness and understanding. Please stay with me on this. I told my mother this story ten or 15 years ago. She remembered. And then we talked about Mrs. Crotty. Mother told me that she really was a mean old woman. She was also a teacher, and there was an incident where she whipped/beat a boy. I immediately remembered my 5th grade teacher who brought a boy to the front of the class and whipped him with a wooden paddle with holes. I think watching was worse. I have thought about that boy, Gary Dawson for years. That’s the mother/teacher in me. And as I’ve gotten older, with wisdom and years of experience, I have thought about the other side of the fence, Mrs. Crotty. Surely this mean sourpuss had a life, something of purpose. We never know what’s behind the door. We don’t really know at all. When I (hopefully) get to heaven, I want to get to know Mrs. Crotty. I know you understand, Hook. Apologies for the long response.

  26. Love the story, Jennie! Its amazing, with popcorn too. 🙂 Hope you had a beautiful celebration of the night. Best wishes, Michael

  27. It is really quite amazing how scared kids can be of elderly ladies who live alone. I am glad it all worked out well, Jennie.

  28. Annika Perry says:

    Jennie, at the words, “It happened like this” … I feel like a child again, ready to settle on the rug and listen to the story. I love this one and what a perfect happy ending for you and your sister. Her gift sounds delicious!

  29. Kally says:

    Although Halloween has passed but what a wonderful story! Even I’m not a child, I enjoy it immensely.

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