In February, 1995, three Nova Scotia parents asked the Halifax County-Bedford District School Board to remove a series of children’s horror-thriller books from the libraries and classrooms of the district’s seventy-five schools. One series particularly targeted by the parents was the “Goosebumps” horror series written by R. L. Stine, whose books have been exceptionally popular among eight- to twelve-year-olds. With overall sales in excess of 100 million copies and ongoing sales of more than a million copies a month, Stine may well be the best-selling author in the world.
Although Stine has occasionally been described as a sort of Stephen King for the young set, the titles of his books—such as The Horror at Camp Jellyjam, Let’s Get Invisible, and The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena—hint at their goofy and only mildly frightening content. His books contain no offensive language or disturbing marital problems, and his protagonists never die. Nevertheless, they have been subjected to censorship challenges in many places throughout North America. The petition of the Nova Scotian mothers to the school board, for example, claimed that books such as his encouraged children “to read books that may develop unhealthy and harmful thoughts and behavior.” They also suggested that horror books “erode away moral values like self-respect and respect for other people and property.” They accused Stine of hooking “younger...
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