Ren Shamburger

Giving Our Kids Goosebumps: How Popular Children’s Horror Shows Us the Value of Scary Stories

Faculty Mentor(s): Prof. Timothy Miller

Ren Shamburger, on their experience in the English Honors Program:

I really enjoyed working with my classmates on all of our projects. Everyone has such interesting research and I’m looking forward to seeing the final results!

Abstract: Horror is one of the most contentious genres in children’s literature. For decades parents have tried to get these books taken off the shelves of school libraries, complaining that they are too gruesome and frightening for young kids to handle. Yet despite being among the most challenged books of the past three decades, both Goosebumps by R. L. Stine and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz remain some of the most popular book series for middle grade readers. In this paper I examine why these two series are so enticing to kids, as well as the ways in which they, and other examples of children’s horror, can actually be beneficial rather than harmful for young readers.

Ren Shamburger is an nonbinary English major studying the dynamics and implications of genre fiction, with a special interest in horror. They have a minor in biology and enjoy collaborative storytelling, writing, and nature walks in their free time.

Ren Shamburger 2024