21 Books That Terrified You As A Kid

And probably still give you nightmares. Admit it: these books have been mentally scarred you for life.

When you were little, there were those books that were scary in a fun kind of way. And then there were those traumatizing how-can-I-fall-asleep-now-that-you-have-subjected-me-to-these-acts-of-horror type of scary books like these:

WARNING: Reading this post could cause flashbacks of childhood nightmares.

2. Outside Over There

Maurice Sendak is known for being wonderfully gruesome. But even he goes too far with these goblins kidnapping babies and replacing them with freaky ice babies. We get it, we will look after our younger siblings.

3. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

A story about being trapped, mute and immobile as a rock for almost an entire year while your parents are so scared they go to the police, i.e. essentially the Vanishing but with donkeys.

4. Tikki Tikki Tembo

No one like to think about parental favoritism. But why throw in a kid basically going into a coma after he almost drowns at the bottom of a well? The details of giving mouth-to-mouth were not necessary.

5. The Funny Little Woman

The author and illustrator did it yet again with this one. Dropping your food on the floor should not lead to abduction by three eyed monsters. And just because she laughs doesn’t make it funny.

6. The Bible

Just because you got the children’s version doesn’t mean it is free of plagues, floods, death, judgement, and promises of hell fire. Ultimately, this is the scariest book of all. Which could be the whole point.

7. The Witches

How is the idea of a holocaust of children, through curses, disappearances, and murder, being brought about by seemingly innocuous women, a good idea for storyline for kids?

8. Love You Forever

Not sure why this one creeped you out? I will tell you why: It started as a song that the author made up and sang about his two dead babies. Yup. Fact.

9. Where the Red Fern Grows

Just try going outside after you read about dogs being torn to shreds by mountain lions and learning that raccoons are deathly.

10. Goodnight Moon

Why is a creepy lady lurking in the corner of an eerily dark room, whispering hush, supposed to be a comforting image for an infant right before they fall asleep?

11. The Runaway Bunny

Again, Margaret Wise Brown’s attempts to soothe fail. Momma rabbit gets seriously Bates Motel-style psycho with some of her stalking when baby just wants a little alone time.

12. Milk and Cookies

Your parents just got done telling you that the sound you heard was just the heater, and then they read you a book about the dragon that lives down in the basement radiator. And now they expect you to still go down there?

13. Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present

If she is just trying to buy her mom a gift, why does she look so disturbed? And why is this man-bunny leading her through the remote countryside?

14. Are You My Mother?

What’s scarier than losing your mother? The huge monster-like teeth on a Snort.

15. Alice in Wonderland

Everyone is arguing. The whole thing is confusing. And then the Queen, for no reason, calls for your execution? Just please don’t recount this one next time you’re tripping.

16. Dinner time

The food chain at its most terrifying. Toddlers have been known to start screaming.

17. Bunnicula

They say it’s funny, not scary, because he eats celery. But seriously, think for a second what your reaction would be if you actually saw this guy in your kitchen

18. D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths

Children should be shielded from things like incest, at least until they are old enough to read Flowers In the Attic on their own.

19. It Came From the Internet

A computer virus that can kill you in real life? Plus, since it is a Choose Your Own Adventure, you bring death upon yourself. No one book should be allowed to include this many ways to die.

20. Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

At least you knew what you were getting into. But did you? Really? Was there any way to know just how utterly terrifying this book was going to be?


Ok. This time, and the time after that, you had to know what you were getting into. But still. It was just too scary. Scarier than we could imagine things could ever be. Or ever will be.

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