Recommended Reading | Dark Children’s Books

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a recommended reading post, and I wanted to do one that was Halloween-related. Since I already shared my Halloween reading recommendations, I thought it would be fun to share the books that are meant for children, but are darker than you’d expect to see in a children’s book. I really enjoyed all of these books (most of which I did read as a child), but, looking at them as an adult, I’m surprised at how dark they really were.

  1. Matilda by Roald Dahl. I love Matilda, but it was one of the darker books I read when I was young. Matilda’s family life is pretty serious for a child to read, but Miss Honey’s backstory is easily one of the most haunting things I read as a child.
  2. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. This book has all of your traditional scary creatures – vampires, werewolves, ghosts – but it’s the backstory that is the really dark part. The first sentence of this book? “There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.”
  3. Grimm’s Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm. Have you ever read the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales? Because they are DARK. Even the happy endings involve some violence. (An example: the princess doesn’t kiss the frog to turn him into a prince, she throws him against a wall.)
  4. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. The series as a whole has it’s share of dark moments (Edward betraying his siblings to the White Queen, for instance) but it’s the ending that is really something darker than you’d expect from children’s literature.
  5. Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling. The first book is pretty tame in comparison to the others, but even it has some pretty dark themes. The whole concept of Voldemort is dark on its own, and there are plenty of other examples. I’m sure I don’t need to go into it.

And before you all go and tell me to read it, I know A Monster Calls probably belongs on this list, but I haven’t read it yet! I might actually end up picking it up on Halloween, since I finally got a copy for my library.

What book do you think belongs on this list? Let me know in the comments!

8 thoughts on “Recommended Reading | Dark Children’s Books

  1. I love the idea of this post, especially since I don’t read a lot of horror books so Halloween rarely marks a change in my reading to more spooky stories.

    I adore The Graveyard Book and I was immediately taken aback by how creepy it was, right from the first sentence!

    Matilda (and its film) was always a childhood favourite of mine but it’s only when I’ve grown up that I’ve realised just how messed up some of it really is. That’s Roald Dahl for you, I suppose… 😛

    Liked by 1 person

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