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Local professor publishes book of scary stories for children


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Listen to our entire interview with the author in the video above.

REXBURG — A local professor is publishing a children’s book filled with 13 spooky stories.

Josh Allen, an English professor at Brigham Young University-Idaho, wrote “Out to Get You: 13 Tales of Weirdness and Woe,” a children’s book of scary stories coming out Sept. 3. As a father of four children, Allen is passionate about helping children learn to love reading. He said he wrote the spooky stories because “freaky stuff is fun.”

“There are 13 short stories in the collection,” Allen said. “They’re sort of zany and creepy. You could think of it as ‘Twilight Zone’ for kids.”

“A stray kitten turns into a threatening follower,” the book’s summary on Amazon reads. “The street sign down the block starts taunting you. Even your own shadow is out to get you! Spooky things love hiding in plain sight.”

Allen said he wrote “Out to Get You” for readers between 8- and 12-years-old.

Allen said spooky stories are a way for children to experience emotions like fear and anxiety in a safe environment and learn how to manage those emotions.

“Kids today live in a pretty frightening world,” Allen said. “There’s a lot for young people to be afraid of. A lot of the adults in their lives are upset — upset at the television, upset at each other, upset at the leaders of the countries. And I think it’s difficult for kids to navigate that sometimes.”

His book has already received favorable reviews and was named a Junior Library Guild selection.

“You know those books that you can’t put down because you absolutely have to, have to, have to know what happens next? This is one of them,” children’s author and two-time Newbery medal winner Gary Schmidt wrote. “‘Out to Get You’ is wonderful and weird, compelling and unsettling, happy and appalling. It plays with some of our deepest desires and suggests what creepy things might happen if those are fulfilled — or even just spoken. These stories are scary because they are so very true.”

In addition, the American Library Association reviewer Booklist gave “Out to Get You” a starred review.

“Out to Get You” is available for pre-order at IndieBound, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

“Reading equips us to deal with the real world. We often think that reading is an escape from the world in which we live, but I don’t believe that. I think that reading allows us to practice emotions and situations that we’re going to have to navigate eventually in our real lives,” Allen said.