"It was a dark and stormy night..."
Now you take it from here to create your own family Halloween story. It's really pretty easy, if you follow the advice of professional storyteller Sue Black of Naperville
"If parents want to tell a Halloween story, start talking about their childhood, their costume disasters, the house everyone was afraid to walk past at night," she says. "As they talk, and as kids ask questions, more details will come out."
She recommends keeping stories simple.
Each story should have some fundamentals: a few characters, the place (give a clear, detailed description so the kids can visualize the scene), a problem to be solved and the resolution. If you're telling a ghost story, take your cues from your children as to how scary it should be.
"They want to be scared, but not too scared," Black says. "Younger kids relate better to animal (characters), where they're frightened and run away but all's well. With older kids you can get more into the supernatural, with the foggy mist."
And remember that the scary part of the story is what's taking place in kids' imagination. "You don't need to be graphic in the horror."
A fun way to create a scary family story is to start with one sentence and have each family member add another sentence. Create some ground rules to keep the story from getting too scary. "I have rules, no weapons, no outer space, if you've never done it you can't say it," Black says.
Creating stories can be the beginning of a lifelong tradition for families. "When families are talking and parents begin telling a story and then kids jump in with their own story, wow, they've really started something," Black says.
If you're not ready to tell your own ghost stories, this is the month to head out to the many campfire stories being offered in the area. Check out a few of or recommendations.
Black advises parents to pay close attention to age recommendations for these events and don't bring young children out to events advertised "for the brave of heart."
"If it's early in the evening, it's for younger children," Black says. "But if it's at 8 or 9 p.m. when little ones should be in bed, then it's for older kids."