Usually my schools visits are pretty straightforward, I just stand up in front of the group and tell them stories or facilitate the class to make up their own. I don’t usually offer floor spots to random kids!
Yesterday I was visiting a school in Kent. 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 in bafflement as the children demanded that ten year old Emer get up and tell her story right now. She did it without hesitation- with her best friend standing beside her miming the whole thing out and everyone else listening intently. At the end they all applauded.
The story was “circles squares and triangles”, there are dozens of versions online in forums (like the famous creepypasta ) where kids share stories peer to peer. As they were walking out of the hall a boy ran over and started rapidly telling 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!
This school was a particularly good example but you will find these horrific/ scary stories told anywhere there are children and teens together. Of course we always knew this went on back in the pre-internet age: campfire or sleepover stories… but I cant help feeling glad that this oral tradition continues to thrive and flourish.
And for me, I’m collecting and retelling them. For example I told three as part of a big corporate event for staff of Lloyds Bank Head Office at Halloween. (Feedback “I’ve heard nothing but good things about the stories…For me the first one had the most shock factor! I did not see the end coming!”) Once they have been polished up a bit, their effect is honestly electric on both children and adults, they are an indispensable part of my repertoire.
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