1. Any of the “Choose your own adventure” Goosebumps books
“You open the door to the terrifying, dark basement. The steps look dilapidated and entirely likely to collapse at any moment. From below you hear noises. They are distinctly monster-like. They sound a lot like death. To proceed down the stairs, turn to page 24. To go back to the kitchen, bake some delicious chocolate chip cookies, and pretend this never happened, turn to page 46.”
*Turns to page 46 as fast as my hot little fingers can manage.*
“YOU ARE A COWARD. GO FACE YOUR INEVITABLE MONSTER DOOM. TURN TO PAGE 24.”
And then I would just put the book down and consider whether my burgeoning fear of basements would ever disappear. Hint: no. No it did not.
2. Where The Wild Things Are
Yeah, yeah, I know that this is a children’s classic, a timeless adventure, blah blah blah, but when I was a kid, I couldn’t ever get over the fact that the Wild Things were monsters. They were monsters who would have eaten Max, except that he was monster-ier than all of them. I don’t know if this makes me more scared of my closet or of my future children.
3. Goodnight Moon
Did you ever notice that as the narrator tediously wishes a good night to every object in the room, the room actually grows darker? Every night my mom would read me this book and I’d be all, “Look! A red balloon! How fun!” but then by the end of the book I was all, “IT’S SO DARK, THERE ARE MONSTERS, DARKNESS AND MONSTERS, WHAT IF THE SOCK IS A MONSTER, AAAAH!” Plus there is a shadowy old woman knitting in a corner. Witch.
4. The Monster at the End of This Book
Grover the loveable puppet from Sesame Street stars in this book. I loved Grover as a kid and his growing anxiety that he would be eaten by a monster on the last page had me terrified. When I got to the end and (spoiler) found out that Grover was the monster, my tiny child brain exploded and all that I knew was good and right in the world suddenly became dark and hopeless. Thanks, Sesame Street.
Which books terrified you as a kid? We used to just cry silently and shiver as we read Goosebumps.