Are Spooky Books Ok for Kids?

About Blog Post October 5, 2023 Amanda Stogsdill headshot of post author Amanda Stogsdill
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October is here and there are creepy creatures popping up on lawns, in stores, and even at the library.  As Halloween approaches, horror in fiction looms large.  As a parent or caregiver of children, you may be wondering how appropriate spooky or horror books are for your kids, and if there are any benefits to them reading and/or listening to this kind of literature.  First and foremost, you must  help your child choose books that you consider appropriate in subject matter and for their age.  However, there are some benefits of allowing kids to read scary stories. 

Books featuring scary situations and creatures allow children to explore feeling frightened at a safe distance.  They can consider how they would feel if they were in a similar situation.  Children can think or talk about how they would respond, and you can help them explore how they would use their problem solving skills even while feeling afraid.  It is also a great way to help them overcome feelings of helplessness.  Would they have the courage to confront such a situation?  What would help them feel brave enough to act? 

Normalizing fear or uncertainty is also a great benefit of books with frightening themes.  A lot of children grow up watching their parents and caregivers be brave in situations that they find scary, and we try to alleviate that fear in our children.  However, many kids find it comforting to know that their adults feel scared sometimes, and that fear is a totally normal feeling.  If they know that adults can bravely deal with something that they are afraid of, children can try to courageously deal with scary situations.

Reading spooky books also helps your children discern fact from fiction.  By recognizing that the characters that frighten them don’t really exist, kids learn how to tell reality apart from the imaginary.  In this age of digital technology and social media, this is a valuable skill for every child. 

Finally, many kids find the horror genre exciting, like riding a roller coaster.  By allowing them to read books that they choose, parents help instill a love of reading in their children.  It is a way to feel thrilled in a safe environment and explore their emotions and reactions in a hypothetical manner.  If your family is looking for appropriate books for this spooky season, your local library has numerous options.  Researching options online or asking your local librarians for advice is a great way to find what works for your child.  Happy Reading!