The Goosebumps book franchise is the latest to be altered for improved sensitivity prior to being republished. However, allegedly writer and creator of the series, R.L. Stine, is making the changes himself.
On Friday, news broke that more than a hundred edits had been made to multiple books in the children’s horror series by Stine himself. According to Fox News, these modifications pertained largely to weight, ethnicity, and other delicate topics. This came on the heels of various reports about language editing from similar publications not too long ago. In this particular case, it appears as though Mr. Stine was actively involved in such decisions regarding his own material.
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Readers were quick to notice some alterations. In 1996’s Attack of the Jack-O’-Lanterns, a character was previously described as “tall and good-looking, with dark brown eyes and a great, warm smile. Lee is African-American, and he sort of struts when he walks and acts real cool, like the rappers on MTV videos.”
However, the updated edition reads quite a bit differently. Now the character is “tall and good-looking, with brown skin, dark brown eyes, and a great, warm smile. He sort of struts when he walks and acts real cool.” Another alien character lost some girth but gained some height. He went from “at least six chins” to “at least six feet six” in the updated version. Stine also allegedly swapped out several descriptors. “Crazy” was altered to “silly”, while “plump” became “cheerful.”
‘Goosebumps’ publisher says they’re keeping the books current for new readers
Goosebumps publisher Scholastic responded to Fox News over the outcry over the edits. “For more than 30 years, the Goosebumps series has brought millions of kids to reading through humor with just the right amount of scary. Scholastic takes its responsibility seriously to continue bringing this classic adolescent brand to each new generation. When re-issuing titles several years ago, Scholastic reviewed the text to keep the language current and avoid imagery that could negatively impact a young person’s view of themselves today, with a particular focus on mental health.”
With more than 300 million copies sold worldwide, the Goosebumps series is second to only the renowned and bestselling “Harry Potter” children’s series.
This isn’t the first instance of children’s books being altered in recent memory. Puffin UK – the children’s imprint of Penguin Random House Publisher – came under fire for altering several of Roald Dahl’s beloved stories. Titles such as Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, The Witches and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were altered. In their attempt to modernize these classics, certain descriptions were changed or removed to avoid any offending language. This decision sparked outrage from readers who felt that their cultural heritage was being erased without their permission.