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10 of the Creepiest Children’s Books that Kids Love

Walk into any Barnes & Noble right now, and you’ll see a table full of Halloween-themed children’s books front and center. Witches on brooms, and big green monsters, and giant pumpkins.

But why not get into the Halloween spirit with a really creepy children’s book — because trust me, there are plenty. And most of them aren’t even trying to be scary.

Here are 10 of the strangest, most disturbing, creepiest children’s books that are probably more appropriate for Halloween than anything Charlie Brown could cook up.

  • Totally Creepy Children’s Books 1 of 11
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    Death, cannibalism, and suicide — all a part of the children's book genre. Here are 10 classic children's books that just might give your kid nightmares. 

  • Heckedy Peg 2 of 11
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    It's easy to get distracted by the stunning illustrations and fun-to-read narrative before realizing just how downright disturbing this story really is. A witch turns a bunch of kids into food that she's planning on eating, and just as she starts to dig in, the children's distraught mother shows up at the door. The witch will only let the mother in if she cuts off her feet (her feet are dirty!) and then, after her mother successfully transforms her children back, they chase the old woman to a bridge where she presumably jumps to her death.

     

    But how ‘bout those illustrations.

     

    Buy from Amazon, $6.30

  • Love You Forever 3 of 11
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    As beloved as this classic children's book is, it's probably best known for being a bit creepy. I mean it starts off sweet enough — with a smitten mother cradling her newborn/toddler/child because he'll always be her baby. But the book crosses a weird line when the mom continues to cradle her teenager, and then does bizarre things like sneaking in to see her sleeping child while crawling on all fours. And how about when this elderly 80-something mother climbs a two-story ladder to cradle her middle-aged child who still sleeps in a twin-sized bed because HE HAS MOMMY ISSUES. (And also, what's wrong with the front door?)

     

    Buy from Amazon, $3.05

  • Trouble with Trolls 4 of 11
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    There are a lot of things I like about this book: the intricate illustrations, the strong and quick-thinking girl, the interesting storyline, etc. But let's not overlook the fact that this girl is outwitting a bunch of creepy trolls who are trying to EAT her dog. And they get really close to doing so. If my son started having nightmares about thieving trolls, I wouldn't blame him.

     

    Buy from Amazon, $6.29

  • Never Smile at a Monkey 5 of 11
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    After reading this book — which basically details all the ways an animal, even a small and friendly looking animal, can kill you — my son stopped asking to go to the zoo. It's an interesting concept, sure, but a serious downer at bedtime.

     

    Buy from Amazon, $14.40

  • The Little Match Girl 6 of 11
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    It's funny how you can read something as a kid and then as an adult, and read a completely different story. This isn't just a Christmas story about family and poverty; it's a story about a little girl who freezes to death and dies. The end.

     

    Buy from Amazon, $6.29

  • The Green Ribbon 7 of 11
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    This story — part of the book "In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories" — was the first book that scared the crap out of me. The entire book is creepy as heck, but this particular story is about a little girl who wears a green ribbon around her neck, and I don't remember the particulars about the story, but the ribbon comes off at the end and her head falls off. Aaaand I was traumatized.

     

    (This book is aimed at kids 4 to 8 years old, by the way.)

     

    Buy from Amazon, $3.99

  • Jumanji 8 of 11
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    A board game that comes alive and tries to kill you? What could possibly be scary about that? And even though the illustrations are gorgeous (seriously, what's up with all of these creepy stories with beautiful pictures?), they definitely add a dark vibe to the story. 

     

    Buy from Amazon, $14.18

  • Rumpelstiltskin 9 of 11
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    Even though the modern version is far less creepy than the original Brothers Grimm version, Rumpelstiltskin's still a frightening character for kids. When my 4 year old got interested in the character via Shrek, I decided to check out the book because I couldn't exactly remember the story. But then I remembered why I wanted to forget it. 

     

    Buy from Amazon, $7.19

  • Hansel and Gretel 10 of 11
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    We could really add any of the original Grimm's Fairytales to this list, but Hansel and Gretel is one of those stories that, no matter how you modernize it, stays creepy. There's just no way to Disney-ize two abandoned children who get lured to a witch's house, where they're caged and fattened up — destined to be cooked and cannibalized. But no worries, the kids push the witch into a huge human-sized oven that's presumably cooked god-knows how many children.

     

    Buy from Amazon, $6.29

  • The Wolves in the Walls 11 of 11
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    Dude — even the cover is creepy. And the story? THE STORY IS TERRIFYING (intensified by the chill-inducing illustrations). After the little girl starts hearing scratching in her walls and tries to convince her family that it's wolves, the wolves finally come out and the family has to run from the house. Twenty bucks says your kid shows up at your bedside in the middle of the night with tear-stained cheeks, swearing that he heard scratching in his bedroom walls.  

     

    Buy from Amazon, $6.29

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