These 8 Books Are Most Likely to Give Your Kids Nightmares


Sharing a bedtime story with your child is a great way to close the day, unwind and de-stress before it’s time to sleep. This gives you and your child the opportunity to get a peaceful sleep, ready for the day ahead. But what if your bedtime routine is keeping your child awake rather than sending them to sleep?

Research suggests that parents struggle to get the sleep they need from the second a child is born; with the first three months hitting new parents the hardest. Fortunately, we’ve analysed which children’s books are notorious for giving children nightmares, so you can steer clear and get some much-needed shut-eye this year.

The Goosebumps Books are Most Likely to Keep Kids Up At Night

We analysed over 700 tweets from the past decade to find out which books scared adults senseless as a child. The Goosebumps books, authored by self-confessed ‘child terrifyer’ R. L. Stine, came out on top as the most likely to keep your children up at night. 




Over 300 people stated that the Goosebumps books gave them nightmares or scared them as a child, and it’s easy to see why. These ghoulish books and their horrifying covers are enough to give even the bravest adults a scare.

Here’s a full list of the bedtime storybooks you should avoid for a peaceful night’s sleep:



  1. Goosebumps by R. L. Stine
  2. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
  3. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
  4. The Bible
  5. The BFG by Roald Dahl
  6. Tailypo by Joanna Galdone
  7. A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon and Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King



Find the full dataset here.

Why is a Bedtime Story Important?

Reading with children has a wealth of personal and societal benefits. It can help to boost kids’ self-esteem, communication skills and more. However, a bedtime story has the added benefit of helping you relax and unwind before bed and spend quality time with your child.

Noel Janis-Norton, learning and behaviour specialist and author of Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting, states that:

“Reading to our children is the most effective, as well as the easiest, quickest and most enjoyable, way to improve reading comprehension…

Unless your child is a very skilled and confident reader, the books she is likely to choose to read for her own pleasure usually will not be particularly challenging. They will probably be within the comfort zone of words she can read without a struggle.

But when we read to a child, we can choose more challenging material. Your child will understand the meanings of many words when she hears them in the context of the story, even though she might well have difficulty reading them on her own.”

Here’s some more information on how reading can help kids and adults in daily life: 


Which Bedtime Stories Should You Read to Your Kids?

Research shows that 82% of young people (aged 8 to 18) believe that the more they read, the better they’ll become. It’s important to nurture this interest so that kids and teens grow up to be keen readers and informed adults. 

For those that do read often, there are firm favourites as you move from year one to year eight. A study by Renaissance of over a million school children revealed which titles are the most popular. 

We’ve put together a list of the top titles that make for great bedtime reading for kids:



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