I Love Scary Stories

Banned and Challenged Books

By: Kristin Pekoll

When I was a child, I loved scary stories. Now as an adult, I love scary stories. Halloween is my second favorite holiday. I enjoy all things spooky: haunted houses, decorations, corn mazes, campfires, and especially books. As a librarian, our public library copy of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was always checked out during the fall season, and I was on the hunt for books like it. But honestly there are no books even close to Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories series.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tallied all the book challenges reported from 1990 to 1999, and it was no surprise to anyone that the Scary Stories series was number one on that list. When you look at the specific challenges in the Banned Books Resource Guide, you learn the reasons behind the challenges:

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
via Scary Stories Documentary
  • “too scary and violent”
  • “too morbid for children”
  • “shows the dark side of religion through the occult, the devil, and satanism”
  • “cannibalism”
  • “unrealistic view of death”
  • “cause children to fear the dark”
  • “cause children to have nightmares”

Now you can see why so many kids LOVE these books! Kids that grew up reading these books and still somehow managed to become educated, rational, and functioning adults — adults like Cody Meirick who loves these books so much he’s creating a documentary about them. I was tickled to be invited to be a part of this project and interviewed about the book challenges. The line up of academics, authors, and librarians that are interviewed for this documentary is extraordinary, and I’m so delighted and honored to be a part of it.

At first I was nervous. Representing the American Library Association is important to me. I reviewed a lot of the cases and statistics about the books and reread the titles. The books mean a lot to so many people, and they’ve been banned and challenged so often. My hope was to not only convey their power but to also talk about how harmful censorship is, especially to kids. These books are a prize for reluctant readers. The artwork captures your attention and draws you into the story. The stories are simple and clear. Most of the stories are a few pages and written in a way that doesn’t intimidate readers who struggle.

To take away a book that can ignite a passion for reading and storytelling because there’s a story where a little boy eats a toe is just wrong. 

If you check out Cody’s IndieGoGo page, you can watch the trailer and find out more about the film. He includes a clip of my interview and an interview with Alvin Schwartz’s family. He’s even interviewed R.L. STINE! How cool is that!

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