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Proud Of Spreading Chills And Thrills Among Children: ‘Goosebumps’ Author R.L. Stine

I'm very proud of the millions of kids I have scared over the years, and proud that millions of kids were encouraged to read because of my books.

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Scared. Image source: Huffingtonpost.com

R.L. Stine never imagined he’d carve out a successful future for himself by writing a horror book series, which he started by accident. The “Goosebumps” creator says he is proud of spreading chills and thrills among children, and helping youngsters develop a reading habit.

“I’m very proud of the millions of kids I have scared over the years, and proud that millions of kids were encouraged to read because of my books,” Stine told IANS in an email interview.

Born as Robert Lawrence Stine, he started writing when he was 9 and has been penning down his creative thoughts since then. Back in the early 1990s, he resisted the idea of writing “Goosebumps”, which is now one of the best-selling children’s series of all-time, because he already had “Fear Street”, a horror book series for adults, to his credit.

Stine only agreed to go for it with the right name and zeroed in on “Goosebumps”, in which he merged the world of horror with humour. The first edition of “Goosebumps”, which brings supernatural beings to life to haunt children, came out in 1992.

“I never dreamed that these books would be so popular. And I never imagined the ‘Goosebumps’ series would last 26 years. What I’ve learned is that kids really like to be scared! (As long as there is a happy ending),” said Stine, who is also referred to as Stephen King of Children’s Literature.

Children avoid eye contact when anxious
“I’m very proud of the millions of kids I have scared over the years, and proud that millions of kids were encouraged to read because of my books,”-R.L Stine

It has been a long road for the franchise. Since 1992, the “Goosebumps” franchise has expanded its universe. The adventurous world came to life on the big screen with two feature films — “Goosebumps”, which was aired in India on &flix, and “Goosebumps 2”, which will premiere on the channel later this year.

Apart from films, “Goosebumps” series were adapted into a television series, six video games and six comic books.

What do you think makes the franchise timeless?

“I don’t know if they are timeless or not. But I do know that our fears never change. Fear of the dark… Fear of strange places… Fear of being pursued by someone or something… Those fears seem to be timeless,” said the 75-year-old.

R.L. Stine Author of kid’s favorite ‘Goosebumps’ (IANS)

Talking about his influences, Stine said: “I’m still influenced by the comic books I read as a kid. By authors such as Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and Rod Serling. Your heroes and influences stay with you.”

He asserted that he works really hard at “keeping up with kids and what interests them”.

“All of my books start with real-world settings and events — and then the plot goes crazy,” said the author, adding that “some of my early readers are 30 or 35 years old. To them, I am nostalgia! That took some getting used to”.

In the “Goosebumps” film franchise, actor Jack Black essays role of Stine. But what about a film on your life?

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He was quick to dismiss the idea by saying, “My life story would be someone sitting in a room and typing every day, year after year. Who would want to see a movie like that?”

Back to the book franchise, Stine, who is also a television producer, editor and screenwriter, feels there are still many untold stories from the “Goosebumps” universe.

“I just signed on for six more ‘Goosebumps’ books. That should keep me busy. I’m also writing a series of graphic novels for kids. Fun.” (IANS)

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Consumption Of Sugary Beverages Declines Among US Kids: Study

US kids are consuming less sugary beverages, says a study

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Consumption of Beverages
Kids in USA have reduced the consumption of sweetened beverages. Pixabay

Children and adolescents in the United States consuming sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) declined significantly between 2003 and 2014, says a study.

This decline in consumption was found among children and adolescents in all groups studied, including those participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the US federally funded programme that provides food assistance to more than 40 million low-income Americans each month — half of whom are children.

However, the study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine demonstrated that even with the decline, current levels remain too high, with 61 per cent of all children and 75.6 per cent of SNAP recipients still consuming an SSB on a typical day.

“While the observed declines in children’s sugar-sweetened beverage consumption over the past decade are promising, the less favourable trends among children in SNAP suggest the need for more targeted efforts to reduce sugary drink consumption,” said study lead investigator J. Wyatt Koma, Independent Researcher, US.

For the study, the research team used nationally representative dietary data for 15,645 children and adolescents (aged 2 to 19 years) from the 2003 to 2014 US National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES).

Sugary beverages
The decline in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among kids is promising. Pixabay

They classified children according to self-reported participation in the SNAP programme and household income: 27.8 per cent were SNAP participants; 15.3 per cent were income-eligible but not SNAP participants; 29.7 per cent had lower incomes that were ineligible for SNAP; and 27.2 per cent had higher incomes that were ineligible for SNAP.

From 2003 to 2014, the share of children consuming an SSB on a typical day declined significantly across all SNAP participation groups, primarily driven by declines in soda consumption.

Among children who were SNAP participants, the percentage drinking SSBs declined from 84.2 per cent to 75.6 per cent and per capita daily consumption of SSB calories declined from 267 to 182 calories.

In 2014, nearly one in four children who were income-eligible for the SNAP programme consumed a fruit drink on any given day (SNAP participants: 24.8 per cent; Income-eligible nonparticipants: 23.4 per cent).

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The share of participants consuming a sports/energy drink on any given day tripled from 2003 to 2014 (from 2.6 percent to 8.4 per cent), the study said.

“While our results confirm that efforts to decrease SSB consumption over the past decade have been successful, they also suggest that the continued surveillance of children’s SSB consumption by beverage type is important,” said study senior author Sara N. Bleich from Harvard University in the US. (IANS)