Do you ever have that feeling where you are all by yourself and you feel a little bit uncomfortable? Or maybe even a little bit of fear? Where you can’t control or don’t know what’s going to happen next? Well at the moment you might feel like you want to curl up into a little ball and hide from the world, but really, this feeling of “fear” might not be a bad thing at all. It can be an opportunity to grow and learn to survive. Horror has been around for generations and hopefully generations to come. But if we let critics take over, then it might not be around for too long. Some people want a ban on all horror literature in our school, but I disagree. We can’t let this happen to this amazing genre.
My first reason against the ban of horror in our school is that you can learn basic principles or life lessons from this genre. For example, if you enter a sketchy situation and don’t feel comfortable, you can remember some of the dilemmas from the horror stories you’ve read and know that this scenario is only going to end up badly for yourself. You can choose to avoid this situation and keep out of harm’s way. As Paul Goat Allen says from Barnes and Noble about the horror genre, “There are life lessons to be learned. Don’t invite a vampire into your house. Don’t take that shortcut through the cemetery. Staying out late and not telling your parents where you are can be dangerous. Walking into a forested area at night looking for a wayward pet is a bad idea. Don’t take candy from strangers.” There are so many bad things that can happen to us in life that we have no way of predicting. When we encounter situations in books that we read, especially in the horror genre, it can help us be prepared for some of them in the real world.
In the “Tell-Tale Heart” written by Edgar Allan Poe, we learn how to stay away from flattering, conniving, and mischievous people. “I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him.” (Lines 21 – 22) The narrator shows us his true thoughts even though on the outside he might seem innocent, his conniving ways shows us that he wants to kill the old man. Here, we can learn not be too trusting of people that seem to be kind on the outside.
The second reason the horror genre is good for kids is that students can get excited about reading and writing. We naturally get pulled in and engaged with the plot and suspense in a horror story. The structure and elements of a horror story are amplified, and so as kids read the stories, they can also learn how to become better writers as well. In “Scary Tales” Jackie Torrence says, “When I tell those kids, “I’m going to scare you,” when I start to give them a little bit of fear, well, they’re ready to listen.” (lines 42 – 44) You can see that kids instantly engage once they hear that they are going to be scared. Horror gets kids excited to listen and read. If they really want to get deeper into the story, they can study how the author creates suspense and other elements of the story and translate these elements into their own stories one day. Kids aren’t reading as much these days, and they have to be told to read which is sad. With horror, they naturally get enthusiastic to read.
Allen says, “First and foremost, it gets children interested—exhilarated—about reading. “It was literally thrilling to open up and experience some of these books. There was a sense that I was pushing the boundaries, exploring new territory, doing something that bordered on naughty… it was a little scary and a lot of fun!” Again, horror gets kids excited about reading. I believe that reading is the basic skill in becoming a powerful and knowledgeable person. If you are enthusiastic about reading, then you will become not just a better reader, but thinker and writer as well. The horror genre provides a good catalyst for reading, and you can use this platform to expand and explore other genres of books.
One of the leading reasons why critics of horror think that this genre should be banned is because of the inappropriate and violent actions that take place inside of this genre, and they don’t think kids should be exposed to this type of fiction. In the “Tell-Tale Heart,” Poe says, “First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.”(lines 133 – 144) As you can see, these images are very graphic and inappropriate. Parents probably would not want their child to read this.
However, most kids are confronted with scary, inappropriate things every day of their lives. The world is not all “butterflies and rainbows”, so whether you like it or not, kids will encounter the real, scary world at some point or other in their life. Parents aren’t always going to be able to protect their kids from the outside world. Wouldn’t it be great to know that kids can handle scary or unfamiliar situations? Like Greg Ruth says from TOR.com, “Plainly put, horror provides a playground in which kids can dance with their fears in a safe way that can teach them how to survive monsters and be powerful, too. Horror for kids lets them not only read or see these terrible beasts but also see themselves in the stories’ protagonists. The hero’s victory is their victory. The beast is whomever they find beastly in their own lives. A kid finishing a scary book, or movie can walk away having met the monster and survived, ready and better armed against the next villain that will be coming…”
Horror has been around for generations. But if we let critics take over, then it might not be around for too long. We can’t let this happen to this amazing genre. We can’t let critics take over and say this genre is too inappropriate to read or that there is no benefit from reading horror. There are so many things we can learn from horror, like what characteristics make an engaging, suspenseful story, and even how to predict, avoid, and conquer scary and fearful situations in life. I suggest that all of you pick up any horror story available to you and learn to appreciate the genre more, so that whenever a critic comes along and says that horror should be banned, tell them why it shouldn’t be so that horror can keep thriving and prospering for many generations to come…especially in our school.
One thought on “Keeping Horror in Schools”
Powerful argument, Isaac. I can see your point for sure that the genre inspires, catalyzes and, ironically, protects us. We have to deal with an extreme to make us stronger in our own realities. Well stated and fantastic points.