Yesterday, as part of World Book Week celebrations, I was visiting a school to tell stories. I like to respond to their mood so I usually ask them what kind of story they would like to hear. Year 5 and 6 unsurprisingly demanded “a scary story” and “horror”. As I told them an urban legend I noticed the kids started nudging each other and afterwards excitedly told me the story was “like the one Emer told”. The teachers and I watched on as the class demanded that ten year old Emer get up and share her story. She did this with her best friend standing beside her miming the whole thing out and everyone else listening intently- it was thoroughly entertaining.
The story was “circles squares and triangles”, I’ve looked out versions of it online in forums where kids share stories peer to peer. As they were walking out of the hall a boy urgently told me the plot for the story “Jeff the Killer”. “Thats amazing” I said. “It’s not mine” he protested, “it’s just this story I heard.”
As a storyteller there is nothing better than discovering a living tradition existing independently among children that has not been taught (or even encouraged) by adults. And for me, I’m eagerly collecting them, polishing them up a bit and retelling them. Their effect is honestly electric on both children and adults.
If you want to hear some of these stories in their full terrifying glory (plus a couple which I can’t tell in schools because they really are too disturbing!) you can come along to this event.
To finish off, here is a story I recorded a couple of months ago of a ten year old girl (in a different school) telling me a different horror story. It’s obviously a little rough round the edges as she was in a bit of a hurry- it was between storytelling sessions. I have not yet found this one online.
“The scary dolls” by Mae