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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Scary Places

Scare these kids and they love it. They rush in with the scary books and relish telling me they had nightmares. My students can’t get enough of scary stuff so I welcomed Bearport Publishing company’s new Scary Places series.  Sarah Parvis has written Haunted Hotels, Ghost Towns, and Creepy Castles, while Dinah Williams wrote Haunted Houses, Spooky Cemeteries, and Abandoned Insane Asylums.

Intended for the interests of Grades 4-8 these six are a must have for middle schools. As for elementary schools, I’m going to suggest five of the titles. The sixth one should be in every high school also. Read on in this post and the next to see why I say this. Am I censoring that title? Ooo, you’ll have to decide for yourself.

When it comes to the elementary grades, I had some reservations about only one of the titles so I spoke with Adam Siegel, Bearport’s Editorial Director and the editor for Scary Places, about this series. I may be intimidating to editors when I ask them why they wrote certain series and for whom they’re aimed, but Adam stayed late at work to chat.  He explained the series was created to engage students in learning about historical places through history, legend, culture, and folklore. "Kids love scary places!" Adam added. Bearport aimed to get kids excited about reading while learning at the same time without realizing it.

The format of this series is perfect for  this age group. Each title contains the top eleven scary places in their category with each on a two-page spread. The Haunted House title includes Lizzie Borden’s House, the Winchester Mystery House, the Myrtles Plantation and 8 other equally mysterious homes from the United States. Spooky Cemetaries includes places in Asia, Africa, and Europe, while Ghost Towns has the greatest variety of places around the world with Roanoke Island, the Anasazi cliff dwellings, Angkor, Cambodia, Pompeii, Uxmal, and six others.

Each title has a map at the end showing where these scary places are in the world. A creative educator can take advantage of student interest to inspire discoveries in geography. I found that wherever I carried these titles teens and adults would take the books from me to examine them. Students were rubbing their hands with anticipation of reading. Two of them took turns reading about scary places from their books – each trying to top the other with the fear factor. Interest is high and these titles meet a need.


  1. teacherninja says:

    Do they include critical thinking about the evidence? My kids love this stuff, but I get the ones that definitively say there are no such things as ghosts. Thanks.

  2. Melissa Henderson says:

    Thanks, Diane, for your always interesting blog. Reading somewhat between the lines, I am assuming that you are NOT picking up the “Insane Asylums” title; that’s the only one of the six that wasn’t included in the cover images. I didn’t get a clear idea WHY you weren’t including it. My initial reaction to the title is that it’s not a term one uses for facilities for the mentally ill; was that the major concern or were there additional issues? Thanks for any extra insight you’re will to offer! (PUBLIC LIBRARIAN)

  3. DIANE CHEN says:

    Thanks Melissa, I am actually finishing the next post about the Insane Asylums title that will answer these questions. I welcome discussion on this title. Stay tuned.

  4. Diane again says:

    This series continues to be a big hit before I even get it processed. Teachers’ children have discovered it and come slipping in before school to read each title. I ended up sending the entire series home with one teacher because her children begged her to ask. What a powerful feeling to have something that everyone wants.

  5. Thanks for mentioning these. My son would love them! I’d not heard of the books before, but am writing them down.

    Susan T.
    Chicken Spaghetti