Why kids love horror by Dawn Kurtagich
The horror genre, by its very nature, tends to deal with the Unknown. Much of what we find scary is only scary because we can’t understand it or rationalize it. For kids, even the convict escaped from prison coming at you wielding an axe, or the psychopath stalking you is far beyond the realms of possibility (I am talking about the kind of childhood we hope all children have–the Lind where everything feels safe and serial killers are no more than a concept on TV).
I am a firm believer that children and young people are the best self-sensors out there. If a kid picks up a book and is scared by it, they will put it down without qualms. Without the guilt of money or a self-invented idea about finishing the thing because you started it hindering their decision. If a kid hates it, or finds it tough going, they will drop it and never look back.
So, we know that they have the ability (a rather ruthless one) to decide upon the genres and topics they read about;adults being the worrisome being they are, are the ones to worry about that particular aspect of the “should”. Should kids read horror.
My answer: heck yeah! For a number of reasons: horror is education, horror is excite,met, horror fulfils a basic need.
And that is precisely why kids love it. Flirting its danger is a human necessity. It won’t simply go away because we have the rational mind not to. We need the excite, met of knowing what’s behind that door, what is in that box, and could I jump that far… And live to tell the tale?
Horror and thriller novels give kids the rush of exploring danger in a safe place. Unlike scary films in the cinema, a child can close a book and step away. They can pause when things get too intense. And they can keep going if another child needs to put the breaks on. Children can learn things that the author has already learned, absorb some knowledge, or simply enjoy the ride. There’s a reason roller coasters still attract kids far and wide.
But another beautiful thing happens when kids read horror. They bond. Passing around the scary book that the teachers don’t want them to read, or telling each other tales in the dark. Inventing new storylines of their own or playa ting particular chapters–all of this leads to intense bonding and friendships. Like a subculture with their lives, kids can have something of their own to enjoy and talk about in secret. And that is healthy.
I will always root for kids to read horror. They’ll sure let me know if it gets too dark, but most of the time their letters read: darker please!
And I do as commanded (but only for kids) 😉
Dawn Kurtagich is a writer of creepy, spooky and psychologically sinister YA fiction, where girls may descend into madness, boys may see monsters in men, and grown-ups may have something to hide.
By the time she was eighteen, she had been to fifteen schools across two continents. The daughter of a British globe-trotter and single mother, she grew up all over the place, but her formative years were spent in Africa—on a mission, in the bush, in the city and in the desert.
She has been lucky enough to see an elephant stampede at close range, a giraffe tongue at very close range, and she once witnessed the stealing of her (and her friends’) underwear by very large, angry baboons. (This will most definitely end up in a book . . .) While she has quite a few tales to tell about the jumping African baboon spider, she tends to save these for Halloween!
When she was sixteen, she thought she’d be an astronomer and writer at the same time, and did a month-long internship at Cambridge’s prestigious Cavendish Laboratories.
She is a BookTuber over on WritaholicDK and is a member of the YA Scream Queens. Her novels include: THE DEAD HOUSE and AND THE TREES CREPT IN.
Her life reads like a YA novel.