10 Disturbing Children’s Books

Gather around children… gather around…

One of my latest obsessions recently has been horror lists on YouTube, and this was one of the topics that came up. That led me to Buzzfeed, where they have a list of bizarre things found in books intended for children (which you can check out here.)

Most of those books listed on Buzzfeed had unintended innuendos, but this list is more directed towards creepy moments in kids books. Those things that gave you nightmares as a kid that now, looking back, are pretty bizarre.


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  1. The Lonely Doll- This one I did not have as a child, but I came across it when looking at another blog post recently. To many of us, the thought of living dolls and teddy bears in haunting black and white would be scary enough, but it gets worse. There are quite a few moments in this book series (like the one in the picture above) that are pretty inappropriate. You can argue that this is due to the experiences the author experienced when she was younger, but in any case these stories are pretty creepy.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Image result for coraline
  2. Coraline- This was one of the stories I read when I was younger; I loved scary stories. From what I can remember, this one is about a young girl, who travels to a new world where she meets her other “mother”. Everything seems happy and well in this new place and Mother offers her to stay forever….if she gets two buttons sewn on her face where her eyes are. As you can image the story escalates from there, and even the cover alone is pretty creepy. Unlike the previous book on this list however, I would actually recommend this book for children who like scary stories.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hans Christian Andersen
  3. Hans Christian Anderson and The Brother’s Grimm- What could be “disturbing” about fairytales? A lot, actually. Although these stories have been edited numerous times to meet the needs of the current generation, the original tales are quite gruesome. Fairytales have evolved over the years in their purpose, and at the time these stories came to be, their purpose was to scare children into making the right choices and teaching consequences. Odds are you have heard a little bit about the previous versions of such Brother’s Grimm Tales as Little Red Riding Hood, or Hans Christian Anderson tales such as the Little Mermaid, but if you want to learn more there is plenty of information about their origins on the web.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  4. In a Dark, Dark Room- This is another story I had when I was younger. I had the audio tape that went with the story and I loved listening to it, but if you do decide to read it or share it with a child in your life, just know it is quite creepy. The illustrations alone are haunting, but the stories are also very chilling. From a girl who’s head is tied on with a ribbon, to a stranger with gigantic yellow teeth, this book is sure to give you the creeps.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Image result for classic children's books
  5. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly- You may be wondering why I added this rhyme to the list, but let’s revisit the lyrics, shall we? There was an old lady who swallowed a fly, I don’t know why she swallowed a fly, perhaps she’ll die. Great times.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
  6. In Dolphin Time- I love dolphins, and this was a book I had since I was little. What could be creepy about this? Actually, in all honesty, it’s quite beautiful. Images of dolphins are overlays onto everyday objects. I did always find this book a little creepy though. After all, wouldn’t you be disturbed if you started seeing little dolphins in toilets, bowls, blankets, etc.?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Image result for edward gorey books
  7. Edward Gorey- If you enjoy all things horror, I would definitely recommend taking a look at Edward Gorey’s illustrations. Again, I was introduced to this one in another blog post and was surprised to find that he had produced a children’s book, in addition to is other…um…”gorey” books.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
  8. The Doll Family- In my search for creepy children’s books featuring dolls, I found this series pretty quickly. Self explanatory really, this book centers around a family of vintage dolls…who are alive. I love miniatures and dollhouses as much as the next person, but I prefer ones that don’t have dolls who are alive thank you. That’s a no for me.



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9. The Miss Nelson Books- There are a few books in this series, and I had all three when I was younger. I loved these books and still do, they are classics for young children. But looking at the old, goth-y teacher shown above you’d be surprised that was the case. The story itself is quite innocent, it’s about this very nice teacher who is treated badly by her class (now that I’m writing this, maybe the story isn’t very innocent either..). She goes on vacation and his replaced by her creepy counterpart. In the end, turns out both teachers are Miss Nelson, and she returns as herself at the end of the story. The illustrations, however, are a bit scary. Most preschoolers I know would take a pass on this one… back to Pete the Cat it is.

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10. Goosebumps Bad Hare Day- Looking back this one’s pretty silly. I loved Goosebumps books growing up, but one time when looking for new books at the store, I came across this piece of nightmare fuel. Nightmare fuel is right, I had literal nightmares just from the cover! Couldn’t pass up on adding this one to the list. If looking for horror stories about bunnies, go with Bunnicula. At least it’s cuter than this…

Now that we have come to the end of our list, I wanted to add a few creepy books I actually would recommend for children and teens. Books I would suggest for older children who love horror: Series of Unfortunate Events, Coraline, Bunnicula, Ms. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, scary story anthologies, Encyclopedia Horrifica, Deep Dark Fears, In a Dark, Dark Room, Goosebumps (no Bad Hare Day! Don’t care how good the story may be!).

So there you have it, 10 Disturbing Books you didn’t need to know existed. What books did you find disturbing growing up? What scary stories would you recommend for kids and teens?

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