YA Wednesday, Halloween Edition: Is Dark YA Good or Bad for Teens, Creepy Fairy Tales, and Diverse Horror

syzk girl who trod on loaf detailIt’s that time of year again. Every Halloween, my brother-in-law replaces his inner front door with a coffin door. He watches through a peephole as trick-or-treaters approach and at just the right moment jumps out of the door—Boo! Some kids won’t even come in. Little kids cry. But the middle-schoolers and teens love it and come back for seconds. I’m not surprised. It’s fun to be scared, especially when you know it’s not real, and that’s all the more reason why I’m puzzled by articles questioning whether certain books are too dark for teens. Seriously?

The darkness in Harry Potter (and yes some people complain about this) is nothing compared to what you find in some fairy tales. A Grimm’s fairy tale called “The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf” terrified me when I was six. Poor little Inge is a troubled but pretty girl who delights in plucking the wings off flies and is probably a budding psychopath. When she puts the loaf of bread she is taking to her parents down in some mud and walks on it so her pretty new shoes won’t get dirty, she ends up sinking into hell where she is turned into the medieval equivalent of a zombie and attacked by snakes and toads that crawl out of the folds in her dress. Now that’s a dark story and it’s for children! So in honor of Halloween and stories about little girls sinking into hell here are some dark YA novels, along with thoughts on whether or not teens should read them.

  • Bonnie Waltch

    Great post, Emily! Can’t wait to share some of these with my teenage son. We have a tradition of reading a scary poem or story at Halloween and, in the past, have read “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” Edgar Allan Poe stories, and Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown.” Happy to have new ideas for this year – thanks!

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