by J. A. White

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Informational Resources:

Author Information:

J.A. White Biography:

Activities & Resources:



Begin collecting stories you have written into your very own nightbook. Include dreams, stories from your life, and made up stories.

Use a spooky writing prompt to write your own scary story:

Use a plot generator to write a fill-in-the-blank horror story:

Start a scary story club where you share your scary stories. You can do this in the dark and add a flashlight for an extra spooky effect.


Create a collection of flowers using recycled materials. Here are some examples:

Design your own greenhouse layout and create a list of magical plants you would like to grow there. Draw a floor plan and create elevations of your ideas. Create an index for your magical plants with the properties and characteristics including drawn pictures.

Start your own garden from seeds using baggies or flower pots:

Paint a picture of a garden using UV reactive paint. Use a blacklight to make your garden come to life.


Build a gingerbread house covered in candy. Use a premade kit or build it yourself.

Create a candy dog and other critters:

MakerSpace Activities:

Design the cover for your own book of writing. Use any materials and art mediums as you would like.

Create a fake fireplace to tell scary stories around:

Alex is lured into the witch’s apartment with one of his favorite horror movies. Write a script for your own horror movie and film it with your friends or classmates using a camera, tablet, or phone.

Natacha has secret, magical rooms, hidden in her apartment. Build a diorama of your own hidden magical room inside a shoe box.

Discussion Questions:

The basement of Alex’s apartment building is filled with “towers of knick-knacks left behind by former tenants.” Imagine the kinds of things you might find in such a place? What might someone find left behind from you?

The spell on the apartment leads children to see, hear, and smell their favorite things in order to entice them inside. What would the apartment use to lure you in?

Chapter three is entitled “The Thing Inside The Backpack.” What do you predict to be inside? What is inside your backpack?

Natacha implies that the stories she has the children read are not for her. For whom might the stories be?

Alex discovers a china cabinet filled with little figurines of children and is creeped out. Why do you think he is creeped out? Would you have felt the same? Why or why not?

Alex discovered the notes of another child written in the margins of books in the witch's library. What do you think happened to the other child?

Alex reveals that he tried to change himself, and his journal, to be more like other kids. Describe a time you tried to change yourself to fit in.

The apartment has a number of hidden rooms. What kind of magical hidden rooms would you include in your home if it were possible?

When Yasmin makes a mistake with the plant she is taking care of, it begins to grow “danglers” with creatures inside of them. Describe what you imagine could come out of a dangler.

The apartment’s need for stories continues to grow and the earthquakes become worse over time. Why do you think this is?

Alex and Yasmin discuss different ideas for how to escape the apartment. What plan would you use?

Alex has a passion for writing scary stories and Yasmin has a passion for baseball. What are you passionate about?

Natacha has a spell she uses to communicate with her cat, Lenore. What do you think your animals would say if you could talk to them? Imagine your conversation.

Alex is afraid that Yasmin will stop being his friend if she finds out the truth about his nightbooks. Have you ever felt that you might lose a friend over something? How did you handle the situation? How did it turn out?

Alex tells Yasmin a scary story to spook her. Come up with your own scary story or tell one that you have heard before.

Once Alex and Yasmin escape into the woods, they are confronted with bizarre unicorn-like creatures. What do you think is the connection between these creatures and Unicorn Girl?

When Natacha was made to clean the oven, she became a different person. What events in your life have changed you? Were they good or bad changes?

Natacha tried to tell Alex that he had darkness in his heart, and that is why he was so good at writing scary stories. Alex stands up for himself and says that he is a good and brave person. What kind of person are you? Have you ever had to defend yourself to someone else who thought they knew you? Explain.

Once Alex and Yasmin escape the front door they must deal with the witch before they are free. How would you handle the witch? Explain.

Alex and Yasmin meet up after escaping the witch and going back to their homes. What would be the first thing you did after escaping and going home? What would you eat? Where would you visit?

Book Talk Teasers:

Show the book trailer for Nightbooks. After viewing, ask for predictions for what will happen in the story.

Perform the readers theater for Nightbooks and discuss the different kinds of favorite things people can have.

Read Alikes:


Anderson, Sophie. The House with Chicken Legs. Marinka dreams of a normal life, where her house stays somewhere long enough for her to make friends. But her house has chicken legs and moves on without warning. The only people Marinka meets are dead; they disappear when her grandmother, Baba Yaga, guides them through The Gate. Marinka wants to change her destiny, but her house has other ideas. (NoveList Plus)

Hahn, Mary Downing. Took: a Ghost Story. A witch called Old Auntie is lurking near Dan's family's new home. He doesn't believe in her at first, but is forced to accept that she is real and take action when his little sister, Erica, is 'took' to become Auntie's slave for the next fifty years. (NoveList Plus)

McCoola, Marika. Baba Yaga's Assistant. When her father announces that he is remarrying, Masha decides to leave home and become Baba Yaga's assistant. But to earn her place at the witch's house, she must first pass a series of tests. (NoveList Plus)

Battling Evil:

Beatty, Robert. Serafina and the Black Cloak. In 1899, a twelve-year-old rat catcher on North Carolina's Biltmore estate teams up with the estate owner's young nephew to battle a great evil and, in the process, unlocks the puzzle of her past. (NoveList Plus)

Horror Stories:

Kerr, Philip. The Most Frightening Story Ever Told. Scary-story enthusiast Billy Shivers helps out when the Haunted House of Books threatens to go out of business. (NoveList Plus)

Book Trailer