NPR

Like 'Goosebumps?' Here's Another 30 Years' Worth Of Horror For Kids

From the late '60s to the rise of Harry Potter in the late '90s, horror fiction had a hold on young readers, and there was something to scare everyone, from realistic thrillers to possessed dummies.

In the early '90s, scarring kids for life became big business. R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike became brand name industries, minting money and traumatizing children. Stine had his Fear Street and Goosebumps series, while Pike turned out a seemingly endless line of young adult novels about teenagers killing teenagers, ancient dinosaurs disguised as teenagers killing teenagers, ghost teenagers killing non-ghost teenagers, and Greek gods reincarnated as teenagers killing teenagers. But this was simply the final development in decades of YA horror.

YA's Stone Age existed for thirty years — from 1967, when S.E. Hinton's gained mainstream critical respectability, to 1997 when J.K. Rowling's sparked a YA gold rush. During those intervening decades, horror for teenagers fell into three main categories. For the kid who wanted realism, there was social horror like the druggy, doom-laden or Richard Peck's claustrophobic rape novel, Kids who wanted fewer abortions and drug overdoses but more mystery could read the hiking thriller , or , a throwback to 18th century gothic novels, in which the ghosts haunting an African American family's new home turn out to be their terrible next door neighbors trying to drive them away.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR3 min readPolitics
Anita Hill On 2020 Election: We Don't Need 'To Take The Lesser Of Two Evils'
Hill, who testified against Clarence Thomas during his 1991 Senate confirmation hearings, accepted a PEN America Courage Award on Tuesday. She spoke to NPR about Joe Biden and the #MeToo movement.
NPR2 min readScience
Computerized Model Reveals Details Of How Human Cells Divide
The nonprofit Allen Institute in Seattle has produced a visualization of human cell division that promises to be useful for professional scientists and curious amateurs alike.
NPR3 min readPolitics
Italy's Matteo Salvini Hopes To Lead Nationalist Wave In Upcoming European Elections
Salvini, Italy's deputy prime minister, leader of a far-right party and Europe's rising populist star, counts President Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon as one of his biggest fans.