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R. L. Stine on the Librarian Who Turned Him Into a Writer

R.L. Stine

R. L. Stine has been scaring kids for 30 years with his Goosebumps series of horror books for young readers. But Goosebumps might not have existed without a librarian. Stine credits a librarian in Columbus, Ohio, with introducing him to Ray Bradbury and other writers as a youth. He says their works scared and mesmerized him, turning him into a lifelong reader and eventually a writer.

This Banned Books Week is the perfect time for readers of all ages to escape into Stine’s gleefully terrifying books. Goosebumps has been challenged and banned in some schools and libraries across the U.S. over concerns that its stories can be too scary for kids. For some, that’s the point.

“Fear is at the heart of Goosebumps, a series that acts in the same way that immunizations do, and it’s just as mandatory for children’s health,” says author Alissa Nutting. “It gives them a small dose of scary and lets them produce needed antibodies towards fear, book after book, so that they slowly become less affected.”

But what about those kids who find Goosebumps to be too scary? They most likely won’t read them, says Nuttig.

“Children who aren’t ready to read them or don’t want to read them likely won’t,” she says. “At Johnsonville Elementary School in Blaine, Minnesota (one school where [Goosebumps was] challenged), the principal defended the series by stating that while his eleven-year-old son reads them furiously, his ten-year-old daughter chooses not to touch them. She knows that for her, they would not be a positive experience. Kids can choose.”

Ensuring that readers have access to stories that speak to them—or sometimes frighten them—is at the heart of Banned Books Week. Learn more about how to help us fight for the freedom to read for readers of all ages!

And now, a few words from R. L. Stine:

Photo: R. L. Stine speaks at ALA's Annual Conference and Exhibition in Washington, D.C., on June 25, 2022. Credit: EPNAC

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