Fear

Painting of The Gruffalo

Go deeper: Fear in children’s books

Article by:
Kimberley Reynolds, Michael Rosen

We’re not scared! Explore traditional fairytales and Victorian cautionary tales as well as more recent books which subvert fear and teach us not to be afraid.

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Children in the entrance of the bear's cave, looking worried, from We're Going on a Bear Hunt

Themed book list: Fear

Compare traditional fairy tales and cautionary tales with more recent children’s books including Haunted House, Not Now, Bernard and Billy and the Beast.

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Axel Scheffler: The evolution of the Gruffalo

How do you go from a bright idea in your head, to a picture book in your hands? In this video, Axel Scheffler reveals how he transformed a few descriptors – purple prickles, poisonous wart and knobbly knees – into the Gruffalo we know and love.

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With pens and art equipment scattered across a desk, in the middle of the frame is an illustration of the Gruffalo.

Axel Scheffler: How to draw a Gruffalo

Follow Axel Scheffler’s process from pencil to paint, as he shows you how to draw your very own Gruffalo. We’ll give you a hint… start with the horns! You’ll be perfecting your own characters in no time.

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Further themes

All activities

Get creative with activities for children of all ages. Invent your own superhero, make a pop-up book and much more.

Animals that talk

From fantastical medieval beasts to Winnie the Pooh and Varjak Paw, meet the wonderful creatures that bring children’s books to life.

Behaving and misbehaving

From strict behaviour manuals to rebellious rule-breakers, explore the morals and mischief at the heart of children’s books.

Big and small

From books that fit in the palm of your hand to Roald Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant, find out how children’s writing plays with ideas of size and scale.

Changing the world

From campaigns against slavery to climate change resistance, discover the power of children’s books to fight for a better world.

Fairy tales and folktales

From Red Riding Hood to Hua Mulan, from Anancy to Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, read ancient stories and playful new tales from around the world.

Fear

Face your fears by exploring the most spine-tingling stories, from dark and enchanting fairy tales to Coraline and Haunted House.

Food

From Alice in Wonderland’s bottles to baby bear’s perfect porridge, discover the temptations of food in children’s books.

Home and belonging

How do children’s books explore questions of home, family and belonging? Delve into books by Jacqueline Wilson, Errol Lloyd and many more.

Interviews

Learn the secrets of writers and artists from Jacqueline Wilson to Zanib Mian, with these exclusive interviews and tips for budding authors.

Journeys

Set off on magical journeys or real voyages of migration, from Gulliver’s Travels and Treasure Island to Sarah Garland’s Azzi in Between.

Go deeper

Explore our themes in more detail and find more fascinating facts in these illustrated articles by scholars and children’s authors.

Magic and fantasy

Free your imagination with tales of mystery and magic, from medieval phoenixes to Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights.

Non-fiction

Find out how children’s books use funny jokes, strange secrets and pictures to give you information about people, places, science and history.

Poetry, nursery rhymes and wordplay

From rude and ridiculous rhymes to inspiring verses and poems, explore centuries of nonsense, poetry and wordplay for children.

Pop-up and moveable books

From the earliest noisy books to brilliant modern pop-ups, find out how pages spring to life at the pull of a flap or tab.

School stories and reading tools

From 2,000-year-old homework to the latest classroom antics, discover books full of brainboxes, weird teachers and troublemakers.