My sixth-grade son is getting a full dose of Halloween literature: This week at home, we’ve read “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” by Richard Matheson and “Popsy” by Stephen King (whose gratuitous cuss words I skipped over). At school, one of his teachers has read “The Outsider” by H.P. Lovecraft and “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe.
This year is the bicentennial of Poe’s birth–an occasion I wrote about in the Wall Street Journal. You can honor Poe by reading my article or, better yet, reading some of his work directly as we approach Halloween.
My favorite Poe stories: “The Fall of the House of Usher” (probably the consensus choice as his best piece of writing; it’s quintessential Poe; great first sentence) and “The Gold-Bug” (as a kid, I loved its puzzle; some of the language makes it difficult to share nowadays, unfortunately; I own a “Gold-Bug” t-shirt, purchased from the Poe Museum in Richmond, Va.). Honorable mention: “The Black Cat” (because I live with one).