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Santa Susana High School

Boo Bash
A Reading Awareness Night
Senior Project Final Paper

Reasha Sharma
AP English 12
Period 2
November 20, 2015

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Reasha Sharma
Mr. White
English 12AP - P2
20 November 2015
Boo Bash
A Bootiful Night
For my senior project, I planned a reading awareness night called the Boo Bash, which
took place on October 23rd in the MPR. The event featured a variety of storytellers, both
teachers and students, including Mr. White, Ms. Carrigan, Michael Hannawi, and many more.
There was a variety of age groups that came to the event and pumpkin carving was available to
those who paid for a sugar baby pumpkin. With the different age groups, there were different
levels of stories told to satisfy each peoples likings, ranging from Edgar Allan Poes Cask of
Amontillado to Jack and Jill: Pumpkin Edition. In order for the event to fit the guidelines of a
senior project, an educational element had to be incorporated. Since stories were the main
attraction of the event as it was a reading awareness night, I wanted to keep the books
entertaining as well as informational to the audience. I began to research the importance of
storytelling, the messages they send, and how authors construct effective stories. For adults and
teenagers, I studied how it affects them emotionally and mentally. I focused on how adults get
attached to stories, both at the surface level and deeper, as in what goes on in the brain through
the whole process. I looked how the policies are implemented on the teachings of students. For
children, I considered how it affects their development and creativity. I also researched how
leadership is affected by stories due to my interest in leadership as ASB President as well as the
involvement of ASB in planning Boo Bash. Looking at the business aspect, I examined how

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organizations utilize the tool of storytelling. Eventually my research evolved to how scary
stories affect people and society to keep the research relevant to the event theme. I further
looked into how gothic literature was relevant to modern scary stories.

Bats about Research


Storytelling is the exaggerated or embellished communication of words, sounds, and
images in order to spread culture, education, morals, or entertainment (Butler & Bentley). This
tool serves as a device which emerges identities, a statement that applies to society, groups, and
individuals (Bird). Before technology existed, stories were the only way humans could
remember any kind of information or means of expression (Abrahamsen). Thus, many
civilizations survived due to the fact that their stories were passed along through generations
(Dietz). Stories are told with the purpose of being relatable, applicable, or comparable to a
certain situation in someones life which is why they are appreciated so much by adults
(Rossiter). Personal stories and gossip make up about 65% of peoples conversations (Green &
Brock). Educationally speaking, the story serves no function if it cant relate fully to the subject
or topic being studied (Bird). The connections people construct with story narration and human
experience makes storytelling easier to compare to real life, which makes storytelling the most
effective type of education (Dietz). Stories have even shaped society to the way it is now just
from the connection between gender roles and genres (as in girls tend to like romantic stories
while boys tend to like more action tails) (Rossiter).
Stories create a picture in the mind, allowing people to grasp concepts easier and
participate more towards the topic at hand because they are more than just a simple example
(Green & Brock). Opinions, reasons, and inspiration all stem from the messages stories convey,
which is why stories are used widely as a means of teaching (Dietz). Authors connect their

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stories to real life by making their characters realistic, relatable, and independent through their
actions (Zak). Stories need to not only have proper character development, but also a moment
of truth - a moment in which the message is clearly conveyed in order to be most effective
(Dietz). Effective storytellers enhance their stories through the utilization of vocal inflection,
gestures, and movement to further engage their audience (Rossiter). Predictability is what
authors try to steer clear of unless that is the trait of the character, so the reader is more engaged
(Popova).
While society uses law to define adults, most adults actually learn through experience and
interest, or rather the situation is absorbed more than the subject (Lindeman). Adults tend to only
listen to those they can relate and compare to, which is why characters in these narratives recap
the audience on familiar background as well as introduce the audience to new ways of thinking
and different perspectives (Butler & Bentley). If a character holds ones attention long enough,
they begin to develop an emotional attachment, what narratologists call transportation (Zak).
Many stories have an infinite amount of interpretations based on the perspective of the person
who is reading or teaching the matter, which gives people different approaches and expands their
minds (Rossiter).
On a higher level, stories that are more personal and relatable are more compelling and
memorable, therefore remembered in the brain in the long term rather than facts stated plainly
with no part standing out (Zak). A Powerpoint with plain text bullet points is ineffective to
storytelling because while it activates the Broca and Wernicke areas of the brain and hits our
language processing, there is no comprehension beyond that (Bird). In comparison, even the
simplest stories bring out an empathetic response from humans, triggering certain

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neurochemicals, which have been proved by studies to help the person be more engaged and
focus on the subject at hand (Popova).
Young teens and adults have begun to learn stories in a therapeutic aspect, in order to
bring light to forgotten values (Boal & Schultz). Problematic and dysfunctional teens relate
better to stories and express themselves sometimes more through the stories than through their
therapist or family members (Polichak & Gerrig). This expression helps teens to dwell on their
challenges and triumphs they have faced in the past, present, and future (Zak). Techniques to get
teens to speak openly include answering questions about characters, relate the character or
situation to someone other than themselves, and then relate the situation to their own life
(Driscoll & McKee).
Storytelling also teaches students - mostly composed of teens - to understand, respect,
and appreciate other cultures and promote a positive attitude of a variety of different races and
religions (Boal & Schultz). Themes are a major literary term taught to students, which is the
entire purpose of the story being studied (Zak). Through their English courses, students are
taught to have a voice and also have focus, which stories expand on (McKeachie).
One of the first ways a child learns of the world around them is through stories (Zak). An
infant first begins to communicate with their people through words, sounds, and pictures, all
elements of storytelling (Popova). Language and literacy development begins in infancy by
dialogue, which in turn helps develop skills to read, and in the long run gets them through
school and starts them on the journey to become lifelong learners (McKeachie). Many dont
realize that reading bedtime stories actually enhances the childs ability to think while they
sleep (Popova). Facts and messages are absorbed best while they sleep which is why reading a
story before bed helps a child to ingest the teachings (Byington & Kim). Children learn how to

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write through stories by drawing pictures in order to depict concepts they cant quite
communicate, and then explaining their picture after (Driscoll & McKee). Preschoolers are
taught through stories the values and morals of society (Byington & Kim).
Expressing themselves through pictures and stories allows a childs mind to develop
creatively as well as gives them ease in social situations (Polichak & Gerrig). Children begin to
develop a creative mindset as well as recognize patterns in stories and can therefore predict the
rest (Zak). In addition, children who are exposed to a variety of stories are more advanced in
vocabulary and syntax (Speaker, McGrath, Taylor, & Kamen). While language is learned
through social situations, stories advance childrens thought process and development (Byington
& Kim).
The key to being a leader is narration because narration helps a leader have a sense of
organization, encompass the message or change they wish to convey, establish credibility,
communicate with the people they lead, and transform dull information into a compelling insight
(Denning). Through storytelling, leaders influence those who follow them to promote ethical
behaviour while degrading unethical behaviour (Driscoll & McKee). Strategic leaders can
convey their visions through telling a story, which promotes dialogue and communication as well
as gives a universal comparison in which everyone can understand (Boal & Schultz). Studies
have also shown that a leader who is more empathetic and relatable is one with many followers
(Denning).
Not only a persons background can be taught, but an organizations past, present, and
future can be taught through stories and dialogue as well (Denning). A more recent method is the
utilization of novels, which can assist in courses such as business, management, and accounting
(McKeachie). By starting with the story, the direction and details of the story can then be

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understood after the big picture is comprehended, consequently allowing organizations to evolve
and learn (Denning). The source of success for business is big picture thinking, which can be
expressed through stories (Driscoll & McKee). A teaching method which incorporates the use of
storytelling as well as leadership is the case study method in which a problem is set up with
background information and students are to find solutions, encouraging active learning, social
development, and different perspectives, as well as give the students a chance to finish writing
the end of the story (McKeachie).
Horror stories have become very popular in the modern day due to, as many researchers
believe, it giving humans a way to fill in the blanks about the historical and cultural parts of
society that have been lost (Jarrett). It also represents the destruction of society, the values of
staying with the bandwagon, and the unrealistic fears humans feel (Tropp). Many psychologists
believe this obsession of society of fear of becoming dinner to a carnivorous predator and other
unnatural features of horror stems from the idea of feeling fear within a controlled setting
(Collins-Standley). Societys decomposition shows there is a dark side to reality and allows
people to escape for a few hours in an emotional trance that has no real threat (Jarrett). Popular
novels, including Frankenstein and Dracula, give people a way to confront fears safely through
frightening yet familiar language, imagery, and relatable characters (Tropp).
The origin of the well known horror of today stemmed from gothic literature, a genre
which combined horror and death with romance (Abrams). Popular novels of gothic literature
include most works of Edgar Allan Poe, Dracula by Bram Stoker, and Frankenstein by Mary
Shelley (Collins-Standley). Stephen King is an example of modern works which play very
closely with the elements of gothic literature (Abrams). The twenty first century focuses
especially on vampires and werewolves, with modern television such as Vampire Diaries and

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Teen Wolf being some of the most popular series (Tropp). Events are held to celebrate and
appreciate works of gothic literature, such as the Lumous Gothic Festival and the Drop Dead
Festival, showing just as much how gothic literature affects society (Collins-Standley).

The Spooktacular End


After researching immensely, I have filled in blanks and answered questions I had before
about my project subject. I learned many facts and statistics pertaining to the topic of reading,
while also expanding my horizons by researching topics more useful to my own position and
knowledge. When beginning my research, I started with searching for the benefits of
storytelling, which there was an abundance of sources for but was too broad of a topic to really
focus on my senior project. However as I continued to find sources, my research changed more
towards specific aspects of how storytelling affects people and how I could apply the information
to my own life. Not only did I discover how different age groups are affected, but I also learned
of what parts are affected in the brain. I found sources pertaining to my ASB president role, with
helpful articles discussing how leadership and storytelling are related. While horror stories are a
controversial subject in terms of if they are more beneficial or harmful, I found many scholarly
articles which explained how they are actually a necessity to society and its development, as well
as to a human beings development, both adult and child. Horror stories were the main feature as
the event was held a week before Halloween, so they had to be advertised with the benefits in
order to promote Boo Bash in a positive light to parents. While the stories being featured were
more childish (with the exception of a few such as Edgar Allan Poe), this research on horror
stories helped to better understand the world of horror as well as helped advertising and sales.
Gothic literature was a huge part in this process. Because this genre shaped the world as we
know today in terms of not only horror and romance literature but also societal workings, I felt it

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was important for me to see how horror evolved from this well known icon and how it was
beneficial to society in order to further promote learning. My results on the topic were quite
satisfying in that I was able to obtain information on the well known novels, many of which have
been featured in English classes all through my high school career. After gaining all the
knowledge on the topics researched, I applied the skills to not only the advertisement and set up
of Boo Bash, but also to my own personal device with my experiences and positions in school.

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Works Cited
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8(3). Retrieved October 7,2005 fiom the Ebsco Host database.
M.H. Abrams, A Glossary of Literary Terms, Ninth Edition, Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009.
Bird, S. (2007), Sensemaking and identity, Journal of Business Communication, Vol. 44 No. 4,
pp. 311-39.
Butler, S., and Bentley, R. Lifewriting: Learning through Personal Narrative. Scarborough,
Ontario: Pippin Publishing, 1996.
Byington, Teresa, and Yaebin Kim. "Emergent Writing!" Early Years Educator EYE 8.5 (2006):
62. Emergent Writing. Web. 30 October 2015.
Collins-Standley, Tracy. "Choice of Romantic, Violent, and Scary Fairy-Tale Books by
Preschool Girls and Boys." Child Study Journal 26.4 (1996): 279-302.
Denning, Steve. Why Leadership Storytelling Is Important. Forbes (2006). Web. 30 October
2015.
Driscoll, C. & McKee, M (2006). Restorying a Culture of Ethical and Spiritual Values: A Role
for Leader Storytelling. Saint Marys University. Web. 30 October 2015.
Green, M. C., & Brock, T. C. (2000). The role of transportation in the persuasiveness of public
narratives. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 30 October 2015.
Lindeman, E.C. (1926), The Meaning of Adult Education, New Republic, New York, NY.
McKeachie, W.J. (1999). Teaching tips (10th ed.). Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath & Company.
Meyer, R. G. (2003). Case studies in abnormal behavior (6th ed.). Boston: Allyn and
Bacon.

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Polichak, J.W., & Gerrig, R.J. (2002). Get up and win: Participatory responses to narrative. In
Green, M. C., Strange, J. J. & Brock, T. C. (Eds.), Narrative impact: Social and cognitive
foundations. 30 October 2015.
Popova, Marie. The Neurochemistry of Empathy, Storytelling, and the Dramatic Arc,
Animated. Brain Pickings. Web. 30 October 2015.
Rossiter, Marsha. Narrative and Stories in Adult Teaching and Learning. ERIC Digest. Web. 30
October 2015.
Speaker, Kathryne McGrath, Deborah Taylor, and Ruth Kamen. "Storytelling: Enhancing
language acquisition in young children." Education 125.1 (2004): 3.
Tropp, Martin. "Images of fear: how horror stories helped shape Modern Culture (18181918)." (1990).
Zak, Paul J. How Stories Change the Brain. Greater Good, Berkeley (2013).