Strange Reading Tastes of Children

Metachor notes:

Working in a middle school library recently, I noticed a trend of books dealing with cryptozoology and other “paranormal” topics being returned by the sixth- through eighth-grade students. Books with titles like Alien Visitors and Abductions, Giant Humanlike Beasts, and Powers of the Mind are in significantly heavy circulation according to the computer circulation system.

Other books being often returned include those from Rowling’s Harry Potter series, non-fiction books about criminal forensics, and biographies of sports stars and Latino musicians.

From Vortex Egg.


  1. When I was in fifth – sixth grade (ages 11 – 12), I took out nothing but books about aliens, monsters, psychic powers, and this one book I remember specifically called White Magic, Black Magic. (Why my elementary school had a book like that is beyond me, but God bless them for it.) Most of the boys did the same. I don’t remember what the girls took out, because girls are icky. Anyway, sounds par for the course to me.

  2. I think a lot of us who are now into the occult or whatever read this sort of thing. I loved books about cryptozoology, UFOs, and monsters.

    When I was about 6 or 7 I checked a book out of the childrens book section of the Madisonville, TX (a town of a couple-few thousand people) that explained how to sell your soul to the devil in order to become a werewolf.

    That said, I kinda doubt that was normal behavior for a kid my age. I don’t remember other boys in elementary school wanting to read anything that wasn’t about sports.

  3. I’m faintly certain that I bought “Beyond Belief” when I was twelve or thereabouts, and that book has continued to inspire me (though perhaps in different ways today than the once-upon-a-time youth of a past self).

    I rather wish that I’d taken up, say, mathematics with as equal a vigour as I did the weird world of spooks and boglins, but not a lot to be done about that.

  4. I’m not sure if this is uncharacteristic or not, but it caught my eye. When I went to this same middle school years ago, there were many many less books on these topics available on the shelves (like… less than 5 books). Now there are multiple shelves of such books. The Dewey Decimal system numbering section for these is also relatively new (within the past decade), and already delving into the thousandths — so lots more sub-topics than expected.

    The type of students checking these books out are both boys and girls. I can only stereotype from their manner of dress, but they don’t necessarily look like the “weird” students (and there are some students here who like like mini-counter-culture agents). Pretty much across the board, as I can divine from observed evidence.

    One possible contributing factor could be greater mainstream cultural awareness of such topics (i.e. the “X-Files-factor”).

  5. Charlie's Horsey

    April 5, 2006 at 5:08 pm

    Klintron – that book about the Devil making you a werewolf – that didn’t mention some weird little ritual in which he’d give you a belt of fur, right? Like one of those giant leather workout belts, but for becoming a werewolf? My tiny, very Christian lower school library had a book along those lines in it. I adored it. My favorite bit was about how just picking the wrong type of flowers in the woods could supposedly turn you. I remember feeling like I was getting away with something huge just by checking that book out.

    So strange where you can find this stuff, isn’t it? I certainly didn’t expect the library at UGA to have so much Crowley and Robert Anton Wilson, but go figure.

    I think one of my favorite childhood books was ‘So You Want to Be a Wizard?’ Tells something. And I was definitely one of those ‘looks all normal and shit’ kids.

    Hell of an interesting position for observing this stuff. Ever have kids come in and ask for recommendations? ‘Are there any more good books about aliens?’

  6. Dude, I think there was something about a belt in that book. I think it might have been a book about both werewolves and vampires. I think the vampire section talked about people digging up bodies to see if their hair and finger nails had grown to see if they were vampires or not. You don’t have any idea what the name of that book was do you, Charlie’s Horse?

    The weird thing was, I didn’t think I was getting away with anything… I figured libraries were SUPPOSED to have that sort of thing. I remember being very disappointed that there weren’t books of magic spells available at the library.

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