Dark novels, shows, and films targeted toward children and young adults are proliferating wildly. It is even more crucial now to understand the methods by which such texts have traditionally operated and how those methods have been challenged, abandoned, and appropriated. ‘Reading in the Dark’ fills a gap in criticism devoted to children’s popular culture by concentrating on horror, an often-neglected genre. These scholars explore the intersection between horror, popular culture, and children’s cultural productions, including picture books, fairy tales, young adult literature, television, and monster movies.
‘Reading in the Dark’ looks at horror texts for children with deserved respect, weighing the multitude of benefits they can provide for young readers and viewers. Refusing to write off the horror genre as campy, trite, or deforming, these essays instead recognize many of the texts and films categorized as “scary” as among those most widely consumed by children and young adults. In addition, scholars consider how adult horror has been domesticated by children’s literature and culture, with authors and screenwriters turning that which was once horrifying into safe, funny, and delightful books and films. Scholars likewise examine the impetus behind such re-envisioning of the adult horror novel or film as something appropriate for the young. The collection investigates both the constructive and the troublesome aspects of scary books, movies, and television shows targeted toward children and young adults. It considers the complex mechanisms by which these texts communicate overt messages and hidden agendas, and it treats as well the readers’ experiences of such mechanisms.