Minnesota parents want to ice the 'Goosebumps' book series
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January 24, 1997
MINNEAPOLIS (CNN) -- Parents are usually overjoyed to find their children picking up a book from the library shelf.
But with titles like "Say Cheese and Die" and "Piano Lessons Can Be Murder," R. L. Stine's Goosebumps books are not necessarily the kind of literature some parents want their kids bringing home.
In the Minneapolis suburb of Coon Rapids, Minnesota, parents are trying to persuade the school board to ban the Goosebumps series from one elementary school library.
"I'm simply exercising my right as a parent to challenge the media center on the selection of these books," says one parent.
"There is enough violence in our society. We do not need to offer even more in our grade school libraries," says another.
There's no question children are hooked.
"I say I'd die without them, and like they're a really good series," says one child.
"Before he discovered the Goosebumps books he mostly read just for school book reports, and I had to force him to do that," agrees his mother.
Educators believe the books are useful
The books may not be great literature, but many educators believe if monsters and scary stories enhance reading skills they serve a valuable purpose.
"We want them in the library," says Sharon Ball, a children's librarian in Villa Park, Illinois. "If they can't get their books, they won't come in."
Goosebumps is in good company when it comes to the kind of books people try to ban. Others have included "Huckleberry Finn," "Catcher in the Rye," and "Canterbury Tales."
"Many of the materials that are still being challenged are the materials that we would want our children to read," says Judith Krug of the Office of Intellectual Freedom.
One boy says that reading the Goosebumps series led to a passion for the written word. "They helped me become a fluent reader, and now reading is one of my favorite things to do."
Stine's stories are filled with suspense and intrigue, and some find the series not too far from Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys mysteries.
School board to take up issue next week
A recent survey of Illinois children's librarians suggests series books such as Goosebumps get kids on the road to reading.
"It doesn't matter what you read, it's your personal taste," says Julie Brady of the Bensenville, Illinois, Public Library. "And the same kids who are reading Goosebumps are many times reading award-winning novels."
The Anoka Hennipin Independent School District will get a better read on whether the Goosebumps series stays on the shelves next week when the issues goes before the school board.
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