Featuring colorist Ronda Francis

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Scary Books and KIDS!

When I was in grammar school I loved Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Middle school had me interested in a book called The Active Enzyme, Lemon-Freshened, Junior High School Witch, and high school found me sleeping at the foot of my parent's bed after reading The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror.

My son had a fascination with the Bone series, and my friend's daughter insisted on reading more Neil Gaiman even after Coraline rendered her an insomniac for months.

What is it in horror and the paranormal that intrigues us, even as children?

I am not implying that everyone loves to be scared, but there is surely an attraction.

Another friend's son, at six, filled up her queue at Blockbuster Video with enough Frankenstein and Dracula films to keep them viewing for months. This kid couldn't figure out how to unlock the front door, but he could figure out the computer AND the DVR when he wanted to watch a scary film.

My son read Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark when he was in middle school. He told me it was silly, until he read The Wendigo, then it was nightlights on for a few weeks. 

We were terrified reading shivery, scary stuff as kids, and our kids want those same delightful chills now.

Of course they will read the same things we did like The Witches by Roald  Dahl, all the Goosebumps books, The House With a Clock in its Walls, and Bunnicula, but I've also heard of a few new thrillers. 

For there youngest set there is The Monster at the End of this Book, featuring a Sesame Street favorite, Grover. There is nothing there that will really scare even the smallest of kids, but the idea is exciting to them. 

Middle-grade kids will like The Last Apprentice, a creepy tale of  ghost and witch hunting. Monstrumologist, a Gothic, Dickens-like book about a scientist and his apprentice who find and identify, (and kill if necessary) a variety of monsters, will appeal to the slightly older horror reading aficionados. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is also very popular with high school kids. In fact that book was popular with everyone last year. 

We know kids love horror, and I think I might know why. Kids are relatively powerless. They are told what to do and when to do it, and are afraid of many things--the dark, their closets, mean kids, and even school.

When they read a horror book they meet monsters, crazy teachers, witches, ghosts, and goblins. They get involved in tales about getting lost, eaten, and haunted. Sure they get scared--but they all survive. Every time a kid finishes a scary book they come out the other end, maybe a bit frazzled and scared, but basically unscathed. AND they have slayed a dragon, faced the monster in the closet, and come face to face with their fears, and WON.

Of course we want to protect our kids and keep them safe, but these dark books help our kids meet their own personal monsters--and be the victor! 

So turn down the lights, open your books, and get ready for a night of shivery and spooky fun. There is more to horror than meets the eye!

Quick How To lesson for the kids who love Where the Wild Things Are!


  1. I think we as children sought out scary stories as a way to test ourselves.

    1. Oooo William I think you're right! Kind of like a roller coaster--we are testing our bravery in a safe and relatively non-threatening way.
      Great point. :)