Illustration by Harry Clarke
Halloween gives us the opportunity to go beyond arts and crafts and use the holiday as an excuse to dive into some classic suspenseful stories. Luckily, many of these stories are in the public domain.
Most of these are probably most suitable for middle and high school. I put the word count so you can get an idea for pacing. But, remember, you don’t have to read an entire story. Just grab some interesting passages to entice your class and explore how famous authors build tension and suspense.
Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart (~2,000 words) is short enough to print on one sheet of paper. I read this one with my 6th graders every year. So fun to act out. You’ll find many other Poe short stories at the same link.
From Arthur Conan Doyle, of Sherlock Holmes fame, The Horrors of the Heights is a supernatural tale involving a pilot trying to reach an altitude past 30,000 feet (~6,500 words).
Finally, The Brothers Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel seems somewhat appropriate for Halloween (~3,000 words). There are many other Grimm stories available at the same link.
Irving Washington’s classic The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (~12,000 words), familiar to many students because of the Disney cartoon.
Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story: The Adventure of the Speckled Band builds Halloween-like suspense (~10,000 words)
And if you want full length novels, you’ve got such classics as:
A Radio Drama
Orson Welles’ The Hitchhiker performed as a radio play. Great suspenseful build up. Starts about three minutes in. This story was also made into an episode of The Twilight Zone.