Haunted Histories - Books Boys Love!

Guest Post by Valarie Budayr of Jump Into a Book

Do your kids like ghosts and the idea of a place being haunted? My kids go through phases on this one and so I pick their scary, ghost type books carefully.

My first goal is to grab something that will have them turning the pages, Haunted Histories: Creepy Castles, Dark Dungeons, and Powerful Palaces ! is such a book. Even the most reluctant reader will embrace this fun book by Marilyn Scott Waters and J.H. Everett.

“Reluctant historians may find Virgil’s ghost story appealing.” —Kirkus Reviews

Haunted Histories

Virgil is my new favorite Ghostorian. Taking us on a time tour, Virgil introduces us to the incredible world of castles, dungeons , and palaces. Included are amazing facts of resident ghosts, timely traditions such as how are castles really built, what are the best means of torture, and what are palaces really for as well as having a look at life as a working child and a few grave yard tips.

Happily, this book is creepy but not scary. A perfect read for boys especially ages 8-12, girls will like it, too.

This is one of those books which boys will absolutely love!

Excerpt From The Book:


Some kids think that castles in the old days were pink and filled with princesses and ponies. Guess what? Life back then was no fairy tale. I know ghosts who can prove it.

Filled with great amounts of history told in a very entertaining way. I adored this book and we read it in one sitting. I can always tell when a book is a big hit at our house because it just sort of floats from one person's room to another. And you can hear questions such as; "are you through with that yet?" and "when will you be done?"

About The Authors

J.H. Everett : an artist, visual storyteller, writer, and creativity expert. He is currently Senior Partner of EverWitt Productions, LLC. A multimedia studio in Encinitas, CA. J.H. thinks his official title should be “get’s paid to have more fun than he should be allowed to have.”

Marilyn Scott Waters: loves making things out of paper. Her popular website, www.thetoymaker.com, receives 2,000 to 7,000 visitors each day, who have downloaded more than six million of her easy-to-make paper toys. Her goal is to help parents and children spend time together making things. Her first self published book, The Toymaker: Paper Toys That You Can Make Yourself, was a best-selling paper toy book on Amazon.com, sold out two print runs, and was picked up as a series by Sterling Publishing in 2010.  

Haunted Histories: “Haunted Histories came out of my desire to help kids experience history closer to the approach and point of view of a professional historian,” says J.H. Everett, who himself has a PhD in history, apart from being a multi-media artist.

“History is not just one thing after another in a textbook or dates in a timeline. It is connections, mutations, accidents, trivialities, and everyday life. In short, history is messy. History is about people…History is fun!”

Not only does the book have a great deal of fun embedded in its pages and its images, however, this book also aims to talk up to kids. “The most important thing was to write the best possible book that we could for kids,” says Co-Author/Co-illustrator, Marilyn Scott-Waters, “children deserve our best and highest work.” 

Some Things To Do:


In the back of Haunted Histories is a timeline. We used this as a gauge as to what was happening in the castles, dungeons , and palaces. Using a continuous strip of paper we placed dates and events. Since this timeline focus’ on buildings, we looked up each castle, dungeon, and palace online and printed out a photo to paste onto our timeline. We also took a moment to read more about each place. The following places were investigated for our timeline.

  • Himeji Castle

  • Krak Chevaliers

  • Tower of London

  • Newgate Prison

  • Castle Neuschwanstein

  • the Bastille

  • Hampton Court

  • Hellbrun

  • Jag Mandir


How about a little castle-creating fun?

Here's a fun craft from InCreations

Cardboard Fort with Escape Chute from What I Made.

Haunted Histories gives us loads of ideas on how to attack a castle. For us, the best way is to use a trebuchet. Here’s a fun and easy design made out of popsicle sticks which will have those castle walls coming down quickly….. or at least in our imaginations they will. For throwing purposes we use marshmallows or cotton balls. How to Make a Popsicle Stick Catapult

Go To Jail

In the French prison called the Bastille, telling a bad joke could land you in prison plus some not so nice punishments.

Gather your family and friends. Everyone is to bring a large collection of jokes. Divide into two teams, toss a coin to see which team goes first, and then start telling those jokes.

After each joke is told, those that don’t get laughed at will land the joke teller in “jail”, that is until his team-mate gets a laugh to get him or her out.

Remember to try not to laugh, no matter how funny the joke is.

Good luck with this one. We are a bunch of corn balls that laugh at just about anything, especially really, really stupid jokes. The stupider the better.

Some fun and clean joke sites for kids: 101 Kidz Jokes

Great and plentiful animal jokes on this one: Az Kids Net:

Knock-Knock Jokes Scatty: See if your name has it’s own knock-knock joke. There are literally thousands of great jokes on this site.

What is Gruel?


I’ve always wanted to know and now Haunted Histories has ended that mystery for us.

In work houses and in cruel boarding schools, gruel was served as the one meal of the day. Gruel is a water downed version of porridge made with any grain that was on hand, for example, Rye, wheat, corn, etc., also known as groats. Groats is a combination of grains.

For those of you who are really brave here’s our best gruel recipe:


1 tablespoon of groats or oatmeal

2 tablespoons of cold water

1 pint of boiling water

Cooking Instructions

First put the oats, together with the cold water, into a saucepan and mix together until smooth. Then, over this, stirring all the time, pour one pint of boiling water. Now stirring frequently boil for 10 minutes. Serve.

P.S. : If this is a bit too thin for you add more groats or forget this whole idea and make oatmeal.

Create a Coat of Arms: Here is a great site which shares a wonderful wealth of information about the symbols and messages used in a coat of arms. It also provided free templates and other activities to do with your newly designed Coat of Arms.

Things to Do with your Coat of Arms:

  • Create a shield

  • Make a flag to hang from your castle or front door of your home

  • Place it on a sweat shirt or Tee Shirt

  • Make a badge to place on your back-pack

Test Your Haunted Histories Knowledge

Here are some super cool trivia cards made by the creators of Haunted Histories. The online versions are animated but you can print them out as well.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the world of Haunted Histories.

Best wishes,

Valarie Budayr


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