The Green Ribbon

The Green Ribbon

This spooky story comes from a children's book collection of scary tales titled In a Dark, Dark, Room and Other Scary Stories. It's a collection of horror stories, poems, and urban legends retold for children by Alvin Schwartz and illustrator Dirk Zimmer. Being as such, it's a perfect guide for ESL students.

The third story in the book, The Green Ribbon, follows a girl named Jenny. She always wears a green ribbon around her neck, and meets a boy named Alfred. She refuses to reveal to Alfred why she wears the ribbon, and even when the two are wed, she wears the ribbon. After reaching old age, Jenny lets Alfred untie the ribbon, causing her head to fall onto the floor. The Green Ribbon is derived from a French story of unknown origin, which was popularized by Washington Irving's 1824 short story The Adventure of the German Student.

Utilization in Class

A great way to use this story is to print it out and read it to your students as they follow along. Depending on the level of English they're at, they may or may not understand the twist at the end. This is where the fun starts.

You can use all sorts of activities to help your students understand the story. Including but not limited to:

  • direct translation
  • using images
  • verbal re-telling
  • making skits of what they think happened

Useful Documents

Other Stories

Of course, be creative when introducing your students to scary tales in English. Perhaps use Japanese stories that have been translated for easier understanding. Or make up your own spooky tale! You are your own limitation.

  • Ookiku's Plates (Banchō Sarayashiki)
  • Tales about yokai (Japanese demons and goblins)
  • the countless Japanese kaidan

Happy Haunting.