When I was a kid, there was little my parents could do to help me not be afraid of the dark. An overactive imagination led me to think that all kinds of terrible things were going to happen to me once the lights went out. Luckily, my own toddler doesn't seem scared of the dark at all, but I know we still have time for her imagination to grow, which is why I'm filling her library with books for kids who are afraid of the dark.
It's a parenting rite of passage, right? You have to battle the monsters under your kid's bed, you have to tuck them in with flashlights, and you have to leave the hall light on so they can see their bedroom. I'm not even going to pretend that as an adult, I've banished all of my darkness fears. It probably doesn't help that I'm a horror movie fan, but I also still have the same overactive imagination that imagines an entire list of horrible things that could happen as soon as the lights go out.
The darkness is mysterious, it's something we don't often navigate through, and we're conditioned to think that's when the terrible, horrible, awful things happen. But you can help ease your little one's fears with these 21 books for kids who are afraid of the dark. Whether their fear is of a monster or they simply prefer the light of the day, there's at least one story sure to make them feel brave and safe in the dark.
1. 'Little Owl's Night' by Divya Srinivasan
For many little ones, it's not knowing what happens out in the dark that can be so terrifying. Little Owl's Night is a sweet picture book that stars a happy little owl as he enjoys all the night has to offer. It can educate your children on the living creatures that actually enjoy and thrive in the darkness.
2. 'Orion And The Dark' by Emma Yarlett
Orion and the Dark is such a sweet story for any kiddo that's scared of the dark. Orion is so afraid, until Dark becomes life-like and takes Orion on adventures to show that he's not so scary after all.
3. 'The House In The Night' by Susan Marie Swanson
The words are short and sweet in The House in the Night, but the illustrations are beautiful and can bring some comfort to your tiny kiddos that aren't sure what lurks behind the darkness.
4. 'The Dark' by Lemony Snicket
Another book personifying darkness, The Dark uses suspense and humor to create a story to help kids of all ages get through their fear.
5. 'There's A Nightmare In My Closet' by Mercer Mayer
A classic in every sense of the word, There's a Nightmare in My Closet tells the story of a little boy who finally decides to stand up to the nightmare creeping out of his closet, but instead terrifies the nightmare.
6. 'Flashlight' by Lizi Boyd
You've probably had to give your kid a flashlight, but the book Flashlight can offer them a new type of protection. The story shows children that a flashlight can be used for more than just making sure monsters are gone, it can also be used to find the magic in the darkness.
7. 'Emily Brown And The Thing' by Cressida Cowell
Emily Brown and the Thing is the perfect book for the child that refuses to go to sleep and comes up with a million excuses. When little Emily finds a thing crying outside her window, she has to determine what's keeping it awake and why it can't get to sleep. If your kid is one of those who is never satisfied at bedtime, this story can open them up to talk about their fears of sleep and why they are resisting.
8. 'Touch The Brightest Star' by Christie Matheson
An interactive book perfect for toddlers, Touch the Brightest Star introduces them to all the sounds and movements of nighttime so they can have the knowledge to know it's not scary.
9. 'No Such Thing' by Jackie French Koller
Little kids may be afraid of monsters under the bed, but what about monsters being afraid of kids on top of the bed? That dynamic is explored in No Such Thing, giving your kids some perspective on their fears and how the darkness may be just as afraid of them.
10. 'Go Away, Big Green Monster!' by Ed Emberley
A sweet die-cut book, Go Away, Big Green Monster! is a classic that shows a monster getting larger and larger until your kiddo becomes in charge and diminishes it. It can give them the confidence they need to banish their own fears and scary thoughts.
11. 'Blanche Hates The Night' by Sibylle Delacroix
Maybe your kids are afraid of the dark because they're scared they'll miss something? Then they'll love Blanche Hates the Night. The story follows a little girl who will do everything she can to avoid the night, but is eventually overcome with sleepiness and gives in.
12. 'Goodnight You' by Geneviève Côté
Sometimes all you need when you're frightened is someone to reassure you, which is exactly what happens in Goodnight You between Piggy and Bunny.
13. 'Small Blue And The Deep Dark Night' by Jon Davis
A child's imagination is incredibly powerful, but Small Blue and the Deep Dark Night teaches your children that instead of imagining terrible, awful things, they can use the power of their creativity to think of silly, wacky things instead.
14. 'George In The Dark' by Madeline Valentine
George is terrified of the dark corners in his room, but he has to get courageous when his beloved teddy bear is in one of those corners at bed time. George is a character all kids can relate to, and his bravery in George in the Dark will inspire even the smallest child.
15. 'What There Is Before There Is Anything There' by Liniers
For some children, their fears never go away, despite all of the reassurances you give them. That's why What There Is Before There Is Anything There is so perfect. Instead of teaching your child that fears are easily banished, this story helps them to focus their attention and efforts on learning to cope with their fears rather than extinguish them.
16. 'Elsa And The Night' by Jons Mellgren
Night isn't so scary in Elsa and the Night, when a little girl befriends the darkness and the two of them have an incredible friendship.
17. 'The Night World' by Mordicai Gerstein
The night may be scary because it's mysterious, but The Night World explores all of those mysteries and wonders in the darkness to help your child be excited about night.
18. 'Beware Of The Storybook Wolves' by Lauren Child
Often your fears come from other sources, like books and movies, and it's no different for a child. Beware of the Storybook Wolves is a tale about a little boy who isn't so sure that the happily-ever-after at the end of the story means the wolves in his book aren't going to come after him, too. Now he has to use other fairy tale characters to help overcome his fears.
19. 'Good Night Owl' by Greg Pizzoli
In Good Night Owl, when little Owl hears a noise just before bed, he can't relax until he figures out where the sound is coming from. It's a great story to teach your children that there's an explanation for everything and that they can seek out knowledge instead of being afraid.
20. 'Can't You Sleep, Little Bear?' by Martin Waddell
A lovely story, Can't You Sleep, Little Bear? is a classic tale of a little bear afraid of the dark, and being offered everything possible for reassurance. But when nothing works, Big Bear has to turn to the very things Little Bear is afraid of to make him feel better, like the bright stars and moon.
21. 'Day & Night' by Teddy Newton
Pixar is always a hit with kids and the book version of Day & Night may help quell their nighttime fears. Both day and night meet each other and realize that they can actually enjoy and like each other instead of being afraid or thinking one is superior.