RL Stine accuses Scholastic of censoring ‘Goosebumps’ books over mental health, weight, and ethnicity

Mar 8, 2023 | Political News

RL Stine, author of the Goosebumps horror series for children, has accused his publisher of making changes to his books without his permission. The changes reportedly included references to ethnicity, mental health, and weight. 

Various titles of the Goosebumps series have now been re-released as e-books by Scholastic, but much of the language has been changed, according to the New York Times.

The news comes after a huge controversy erupted in the publishing world after it was discovered that Puffin Books, a children's imprint of Penguin Books, retroactively changed the wording in Welsh writer Roald Dahl's children's books. Consequently, the publisher has now said that they will release the original versions of Dahl's work alongside the updated ones—giving readers the choice of reading Dahl's actual work or the censored version.

Stine has denied approving of the changes made to his work, writing on Twitter: “I've never changed a word in Goosebumps. Any changes were never shown to me.”

The National Review reported that the alterations to Stine's work include changing the word “plump” to “cheerful,” and the word “crazy” to “silly.” There is also a character who was described as dressing like “a dark and stormy night” for Halloween, but Scholastic removed the description of the character wearing black face paint.

Weight references have also been altered, with descriptions of having “at least six chins,” looking like “a bowling ball,” and having “squirrel cheeks” being completely omitted from Stine's series.

The description of “a real nut” was changed to “a real wild one,” and “nutcase” has been converted to “weirdo,” per the National Review.

There were also changes involving boy-relations. In the book “Don't Go to Sleep!”, Stine described a boy dismissing “Anna Karenina” as “girl's stuff.” Now, the boy simply says it's “not interesting.”

Scholastic reportedly told The Times that the changes were made 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.”

The Goosebumps series has been immensely popular series since the 1990s, with four million copies sold per month at the height of its success. The 2015 Goosebumpbs film, starring Jack Black, grossed $158.3 million at the box office. And the 2018 sequel made nearly $100 million.