Thursday, October 17, 2013

Halloween Story Time!

  Share Spooky Stories of
Ghost Encounters in the White House
with the Young People in Your Life

The NCBLA's literature and art anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out 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. 
As Halloween approaches, be sure to check out "The House Haunts" by M. T. Anderson in Our White House. Anderson chose to write about White House ghosts because "I have always been fascinated by ghosts, even though I don't believe in them. I have a whole bookshelf next to my bed filled with ghost stories from around the country (and around the world). I knew that as a kid, the first question I would have about a historical place like the White House would have been, 'Is it haunted?'"
Here is an excerpt from Anderson's "The House Haunts:"
Some say that a British soldier killed on the White House grounds during the War of 1812 still walks the lawns with a torch in his hand. Others say that a dead doorman still welcomes visitors and that a dutiful servant, though deceased, still shuts off lights at night. Some say that Abigail Adams, wife of President John Adams, bustles toward the East Room, carrying a load of laundry to be dried. When gardeners tried to dig up Dolley Madison's rose garden, she returned from the grave to tell them off--so they fled, and the garden remained. Roosevelt, Truman, and Hoover all heard Lincoln knock on their bedroom door; and when Lincoln himself was alive and well, Mrs. Lincoln heard the dead Andrew Jackson tramp up and down the corridors, swearing., the NCBLA's companion educational website for Our White House, includes discussion questions, activities, and other resources to help young people connect with American history and current events. A special Halloween feature is the web exclusive "Knock, Knock! Whoooo's There? Spooky Stories from Children of the White House" by Renee' Critcher Lyons.  

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 "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.
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."