7 Children’s Books that Still Frighten

Author Sarah McCoy confesses the persistent phobias from her childhood reads—evil bunnies and all.

Children's Books

Dark fantasies and horror stories for readers of all ages have mushroomed into a contemporary genre giant. From R. L. Stein to Stephen King, the popularity of a good nail-biter is unquestionable, and October is its beacon month. Scary-read lists are as profuse as bags of trick-or-treat candy, but sometimes it’s the unexpected spine-chillers that haunt us all our lives. I still shudder at my childhood reading of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Red Shoes, wherein a dancing girl’s unstoppable feet are amputated, and she dies from a burst heart. For a spin on October’s conventional reads, check out this shelf of children’s books that scared us back then—and still do.


Featured illustration: Marta Pantaleo

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About Sarah McCoy

Sarah McCoy

SARAH McCOY is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of The Mapmaker’s Children; The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee; the novella “The Branch of Hazel” in Grand Central; and The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico. Her work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post, and other publications. She calls Virginia home but presently lives with her husband, an Army physician, and their dog, Gilly, in El Paso, Texas. Connect with Sarah on Twitter at @SarahMMcCoy, on her Facebook Fan Page, Goodreads, or via her website, www.sarahmccoy.com.