With few exceptions (e.g., Invasion of the Body Snatchers), I do not enjoy horror novels or films. When I was a freshman in college in the late ’80s, my friends decided to go see Witchboard, a horror movie that was playing at a local theater. I tried to bow out, saying I really couldn’t handle it, but they insisted I just needed more exposure. I reluctantly let them (pretty much literally) drag me along, but it wasn’t long before I was out of my seat and cowering in the lobby for an hour while they finished the movie. As far as I can recall, that was the last horror movie I ever (partially) watched.Stay Out of the Basement by R.L. Stine

My daughter Tali, who is now the same age I was when I saw Witchboard, recently had a similar experience. (It would not be at all surprising if, like many of our preferences and tastes, an aversion to horror is hereditary — it likely has something to do with the biological “setting” of our autonomic nervous systems, but I will resist the compulsion to give you a lecture about this.) Tali loves Halloween and, in the mood to celebrate early, she bought a Stephen King novel a couple of months ago. I told her she wouldn’t like it, but she was determined to prove me wrong. By the next day she had abandoned that book and asked if we could read some children’s horror together. That’s how we started listening to the audiobook editions of the LEWIS BARNAVELT and GOOSEBUMPS novels for middle graders. These were about the perfect level of scariness for us.

Are there others out there who feel the same way that Tali and I do about horror novels and films?
Do any of you read children’s horror by yourself or with your kids? If so, which are your favorite books and/or series? We need some suggestions for next year.

One random commenter will win a book from our stacks.

Happy Halloween!


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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