Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween Story Time!

Have Fun Sharing Spooky Stories of
Ghost Encounters in the White House
with the Young People in Your Life, the NCBLA's companion educational website for the art and literature anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out, features a treasure trove of exclusive articles, discussion questions, activities, and other resources to help young people connect with American history. Both the Our White House website and book are perfect partners for helping you get kids engaged in next week's presidential election!

This Halloween week be sure to check out our web exclusive "Knock, Knock! Whoooo's There? Spooky Stories from Children of the White House" by NCBLA volunteer writer Renee' Critcher Lyons.  

Parents, teachers, and librarians---did you know that many White House residents throughout the years have claimed that it is HAUNTED? Do you know WHOSE ghosts stalk the bedrooms, fireplaces, and gates? You can read all about the stories of ghostly encounters experienced by presidential children Margaret Truman, Jenna and Barbara Bush, Susan Ford, and Lynda Johnson Robb, in our exclusive article "Knock, Knock! Whoooo's There? Spooky Stories from Children of the White House." We encourage you to share this article--and the accompanying discussion questions and activities--with all the young people in your life.

Here is an excerpt:

Other ghostly noises linger along the gates and upon the doors of the White House’s North Portico. Legend says the banging is the ghost of Anna Surrat rattling the doors and gates, pleading for her mother’s life. (Anna is the daughter of Mary Surrat, hanged in 1865 after her conviction as a conspirator in the murder of Abraham Lincoln. Mary became the only woman ever executed by the U.S. government). Anna’s weeping swells throughout the White House’s entrance hall, even with the doors shut! And on July 7th each year, the anniversary of her mother’s execution, Anna’s ghost paces back and forth on the front steps, supposedly awaiting the arrival of President Johnson.
Renee' Critcher Lyons is an assistant professor in the School Library Media Program at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, teaching children’s and young adult literature. Prior to her appointment at ETSU, she served as a school/instructional librarian for eight years at the elementary and middle school level and nine years at the high school/community college level. Renee’s book, The Revival of Banned Dances: A Worldwide Study (McFarland), was published in September 2012. She is a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA Program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and the Appalachian State University Masters in Library Science Program.

Our White House is an outstanding collection of essays, personal accounts, historical fiction, and poetry that melds with an equally stunning array of original art to offer a look at America’s history through the prism of the White House. Starting with a 1792 call for designers and continuing through the present day, these highly engaging writings and illustrations, expressing varied viewpoints and interwoven with key historical events, are a vital resource for family and classroom sharing -- and a stirring reminder that the story of the White House is the story of every American.

To learn more about Our White House, click here.

Looking for Even MORE Spooky Stories?
Check out the "Boo to You!" list on
for scary and not-so-spooky tales filled with pumpkins, ghosts, and monsters galore, and peruse the "Monsters Bookshelf" on the New York Times website.

For more great fall reading suggestions, check out the NCBLA's "Great Books for Boys" list and "Discovering Fantasy Beyond Harry Potter."