Bookbug Detective: Books to Combat a Fear of the Dark

Emily Brown and the Thing
Category: Bookbug

The Bookbug Detective is here to help you with any questions you have about books, reading, songs and rhymes for your little one. Thank you to everyone who has sent in their questions so far. The Detective has selected a question to answer below. If you'd like some book recommendations or advice, send the Bookbug Detective an email or post your question in the comments below.

My 3-year-old daughter has recently become afraid of the dark and it’s really affecting her bedtime routine. Are there any books you’d recommend to help her overcome her fear?

Books are a great way to tackle common childhood anxieties and fears, and fear of the dark is no exception. They provide a means for parents to talk to their children about their fears and also show them that others go through the same thing while providing comforting, reassuring messages. Below are a few books that might help your daughter:

  • Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? by Martin Waddell – Big Bear is just getting to the interesting bit of his book, when Little Bear says he can’t sleep. Big Bear brings him bigger and bigger lanterns but none of them are big enough to face the amount of darkness in the night outside. A comforting classic bedtime story.
  • The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark by Jill Tomlinson – Being afraid of the dark isn’t ideal for an owl. But soon he discovers that the dark can be fun, exciting and magical.
  • Darkness Slipped In by Ella Burfoot – This one’s a bit different because Daisy loves the dark. A very positive take on a potential fear.
  • Billy Monster’s Daymare by Alan Durant – Monsters under the bed is a common nighttime fear. This book turns that on its head as it’s the monster who’s afraid of children. Reassures children that others are going through the same thing, and that actually there’s nothing to be afraid of.
  • Emily Brown and the Thing by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton - Emily and Stanley find a ‘Thing’ crying outside their window. They embark on a series of adventures to find everything he needs for a good night’s sleep . . . but nothing seems to work. What is troubling the Thing, and why can’t he get to sleep? 
  • I Want my Light On by Tony Ross – part of the fabulous and funny Little Princess series of books. In this story, the Little Princess doesn’t want her light turned off because she’s scared of ghosts.
  • Tell me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep by Joyce Dunbar and Debi Gliori – Willa is worried she’ll have bad dreams when she goes to sleep, but her big brother comforts her with all the lovely things that are waiting for her when she wakes up. Great for sibling involvement.


For more excellent books for bedtime, check out our lists of 9 Dreamy Reads, 9 Books About Bed and Sleep and I Don't Want to Go to Bed!


Teaser image: Emily Brown and the Thing by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton