Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Getting goosebumps over "Goosebumps"

You cannot deny that there are a few authors whose books have made readers out of children who were non-readers before they encountered their books. Dav Pilkey's "Captain Underpants" books come to mind, as does R.L. Stine's "Goosebumps" series, which I still see kids reading all the time these days.

Both of these series has something in common: many teachers, librarians and parents don't like them. In fact, many books that are great for reluctant readers have this same trait. Many grownups think they're poorly written, are a bad influence, or will rot kids' brains right inside their skulls. Well, too bad! Kids love 'em because they're fun! Reading can and should be fun, believe it or not. And kids tend to like them for reasons tall people don't: they're goofy, silly, disgusting, gross, rude, milk-out-your-nose funny, sleep-with-the-light-on spooky and just plain childish...which is the why they're so DANG FUN TO READ!

Remember, those who fall in love with reading Goosebumps, Captain Underpants and—dare I say it?—Joe Sherlock: Kid Detective will not always necessarily read those types of books. They graduate and move on to bigger and "brighter" books, books that are more challenging, literate and "appropriate." Maybe. The point is that we need to get kids to consider books as essential, as viable forms of entertainment, as portals to engaging worlds that their game system just can't replicate.

So, by God, let them read, for reading at a young age is GOOD—and don't be such a stick in the book.

And if you'd like to know more about the 300-million-copies-sold-and-still-counting "Goosebumps" series and the man responsible for it, listen to this cool report by Lynn Neary of NPR radio.

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