“No sooner had the reverberation of my blows sank into the silence than I was answered by a voice within the tomb!”

October 25, 2012

I must admit that I am not a huge fan of Halloween. Growing up my family didn’t celebrate it like most families did and to this day I’m neither here nor there on the traditions that come with it. I am, however, the biggest fan of the most legendary writer of Gothic fiction and twisted horror stories, and that man is of course, Edgar Allan Poe.

My love for the works of Poe came during my studies in college as an English literature major. I took a course on Gothic fiction and Poe was one of the focuses of our studies. Ever since I have enjoyed reading and re-reading his works. I feel so passionately about his writing style and his unique ability to thread a story and his use of language. I’ve tried to bring Poe into the classroom whenever I had an appropriate opportunity because I believe that his stories are not only gruesome and totally cool, but that educationally, his works are filled with great learning opportunities. I especially like to use his works to show students examples of imagery and figurative language. I’m sure by now you are wondering why I’m going on and on about Poe, and it’s for two reasons.

1.) Tradition. My tradition. Every year around late October (Halloween) I like to read Poe’s tales. I always find myself going back to my favorites; Ligeia, The Cask of Amontillado, Morella, and my favorite- The Black Cat.

2.) Educational Benefits. Just today, I was in a team ELA meeting in a local Middle school and we were reviewing the sample of this years NYS ELA exam. I was noticing the large amount of high-level and truly difficult vocabulary words in one of the fiction passages. The passage was an older work, and true to its nature, many of the words are not commonly used or known by students today. Poe’s works are ripe with challenging words, however the content is engaging and exciting.

When you combine these two reasons, I think it is easy to see how these opportunities are not ones we can pass up! I feel that when we can bring texts into the classroom for a read aloud or a mini-lesson, and we bring relevance and passion or excitement, the students can easily be engaged, not to mention they are working with a more complex and challenging text for a very specific purpose. When I read Poe’s stories I read the originals, for myself, but I own two AWESOME graphic novel versions of his stories that I love to read and share with students. Check out this book, illustrated by Gris Grimly. There is more than one but this one has The Masque of the Red Death, Hop-Frog, Fall of the House of Usher, and my favorite, The Black Cat!

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