“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.” – J.K. Rowling
As summer draws to a close and winter slowly approaches, here are some of our suggestions for the golden time of the year – or the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness‘ as Keats called it in his romantic poem “To Autumn” (1819/20).
- Sarah’s picks: Gusts of wind, thunderstorms and crisp autumn air… the perfect time of year to cuddle up inside with a cup of tea, fuzzy socks and a good book! And although we can’t always hide away from the outside world under a cosy blanket, we can try to bring that atmosphere to the classroom with some autumnal stories! For young readers, Room on the Broom offers a fun story full of rhymes about a witch, a dragon and a flying broomstick to get everyone in the Halloween spirit. For a short story about a relationship that has run its course, take a look at Early Autumn by Langston Hughes. Although the conversation seems to stay in the realm of small talk, the awkward dynamic between the two hints at a complicated past and unresolved feelings. The autumnal setting reflects their relationship. We hope these suggestions help you (pumpkin) spice up your autumn reading list!
- Sarah-Sophia’s picks: As the veil of darkness falls a little earlier every day, it is time for me to unbox some old scary Gothic stories. Mary Shelley provides us with a quite extraordinary one, a favourite of mine in the time leading up to Halloween: Frankenstein (1818). Combine some ingenuity with an omnium gatherum of body parts. Add some stitches and a little electricity and you won’t need a ghost to haunt you as you have a corporeal monster: Frankenstein’s monster. This multi-layered character will wake sympathy and terror likewise and pull you into its tragic life story of becoming a monster in the process. My suggestion: Read it to someone in the dark with a flashlight under your face. Fancy something more romantic and slightly easier on the mind? Here are some powerful lines of hope and transition by Emily Brontë: Fall, leaves, fall (1846) Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away; Lengthen night and shorten day; Every leaf speaks bliss to me; Fluttering from the autumn tree. I shall smile when wreaths of snow; Blossom where the rose should grow; I shall sing when night’s decay; Ushers in a drearier day.
- Rico’s picks: All kinds of animals may be preparing for a good winter’s sleep … but you certainly don’t, avid reader, no. You are used to sharpening your senses through the looking glass which is literature. May I suggest Vox, Christina Dalcher’s dystopic novel, for that very purpose? Set in a future version of the USA, which has taken yet another turn for the worse, this story forcefully demonstrates how quickly freedom can be lost if we don’t uphold it in our every day lives. If that isn’t enough to keep you up at night, how about a more classic scare treatment in the form of The Cats of Ulthar? Chills up your spine are guaranteed in this 2-page short story by the great H. P. Lovecraft. Once Halloween has passed, however, we would be wrong in not offering some consolation which, of course, also is literature. Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle is a nicely illustrated story for the young – and young at heart – about a small, hard-working creature stumbled upon by a curious little girl. So do feel encouraged to not freak out about the way things are at the moment. Where is lit, there certainly is hope!
- Simon’s picks: Cold foggy mornings and warm burning sunsets: In autumn, summer shows the last flair of rebellion against the approaching winter, and thereby creates a colourful, mysterious and melancholic season. Here comes my first suggestion – a classic gothic tale that some of you might know from its film adaptation with Johnny Depp from the year 1999: Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow“ (1820). The classic short story of the ‘pumpkin-topped headless horseman‘ does not only play around Halloween, but it also features the somewhat awkward schoolmaster Ichabod Crane as a main character, who strongly believes in the supernatural. After a harvest party, Ichabod rides home on his old horse ‘Gunpowder‘ and becomes the victim of a rather mean prank in the middle of the night. My second suggestion is rather suitable for the elementary classroom and the earlier grades, whose colours reminded me of autumn: Ruth Brown’s Greyfriars Bobby (2013). This beautifully illustrated picture book tells a heartwarming story about a faithful, little dog, who became a local hero for the people of Edinburgh.
Also, if you come across a brilliant new story which you think the world should know about, make sure to suggest it, so we can feature it in our next holiday reading list. Enjoy your autumn holidays, especially long walks in the park, but remember: Winter is coming…