Endless love: “I Love You More” picture book

My cousin Hayley and I share many sensibilities that don’t exactly fit with popular opinion. Here’s one: neither of us like the popular children’s book Guess How Much I Love You. Remember the one with the Nutbrown Hares comparing how much they loved each other? Yeah, that one. Every time we read that book to our kids, we felt sorry for Little Nutbrown Hare, whose love was continually one-upped by Big Nutbrown Hare. It’s enough to give a hare a complex, really.

Such is the backstory which explains why I appreciate the new picture book I Love You More by Laura Duksta. The story’s simple: a mother answers her son’s question: How much do you love me? The lovely twist, however, is if you flip the book upside down, you get the same story told by the son to his mother. Such a simple idea, but so much more satisfying in tone and message than the unfortunate Nutbrown Hare tale.

Win it! I have a copy of I Love You More to pop into the mail to…one randomly chosen commenter who answers this question:

Which of your kids’ books do you find creepy or irritating?

(I can’t wait to hear your answers.)

I’ll pick a winner tomorrow at 5pm PST!


  1. CrunchyPenguin says

    I’m a children’s librarian, so this book is not actually IN my son’s collection (and never will be!)…

    But I find the book “Tuesday” by David Wiesner disturbing. I had to read the book in college, and never fully recovered!


  2. Pete Darby says

    Reading Little Snow Bear to my kids the other night, I couldn’t resist, errr, changing the story a little.

    Because the adolescent bear portrayed would, if lost and hungry, I’m guessing wouldn’t “make friends” with the lone inuit it stumbles across… eskimo sandwiches all round.

    I’m really not happy with teaching my kids that lost and hungry carnivores want to be your friend… however fluffy they are.

    My kids laughed like loons at my editorialising.

  3. says

    I am completely with you on the Guess How Much I Love You book. I’ve stopped reading it because I find it disturbing even though my wife still thinks it’s cute to read. The oneupmanship has always kind of bothered me with that book.

    Then again, those dumb Disney Thumper books bother me too. There is zero story and just about no redeeming quality to the book what so ever.

  4. cw says

    Love You Forever by Munsch. When mom crawls in the window and holds her son after he leaves home? Brrrrr…creepy! And the end, when son comes in and holds mom while she is dying? Holy cow! I must have received ten copies of this book, all from my mom’s friends (just in case I forget just who I’m responsible for in the coming years!). The illustrations are creepy. The text is creepy. And taking the time during book reading to remind my kid that she owes me when I get old, that’s creepy.
    PS: I’m totally on board with vetoing Guess How Much I Love You. I’ve got a couple of gift copies of that one stashed in a closet over here too…I guess your entry reminds me that it’s ok to give them to the Goodwill now.

  5. Ruth says

    I think the book “I’ll Love You Forever” is creepy. I don’t think preschoolers really need to see what is going to happen to their parents when they are seniors – this is a pretty scary concept for them, in my opinion.

  6. Jess says

    I Love You Forever always strikes me as kind of stalkerish. Fortunately, my daughter doesn’t really like it anymore.

    Goodnight Moon just drove me crazy. I know, great for little kids, but it’s so BORING to read over and over again.

    The one my daughter still likes, though, is The Giving Tree. I always feel so bad for the tree. Honestly, I don’t think this is so much a children’s book–especially with the scary picture of Shel on the back–but it was a gift.

  7. says

    Hilarious! One of my friend’s children heard that story and just said, “Man, Big Nutbrown Hare is really competitive!”

    I don’t know if it’s creepy, but Bartholomew Cubbins and the However Many Hats is my least favorite. Any kid’s book with an executioner seems highly inappropriate. Unfortunately, it’s part of a Seuss compilation we have, so it can’t easily just disappear.

  8. says

    I’ve got two.

    “My World” by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd, a follow-up to “Goodnight Moon,” is really bizarre. It reads like something that ought to be accompanied by a strong dose of recreational substances for full appreciation.

    In “Bedtime for Frances,” by Russell Hoban and Garth Williams, the protagonist gets on her father’s nerves enough that he threatens to spank her. Later, she is thinking about pestering him again, but she thinks about spankings and suddenly feels sleepy. Yeah, that’s exactly the kind of conditioning I want to teach my kids about.

  9. Emily says

    I’ve just realized that “Curious George” is kind of a creepy story. I recently checked it out of the library to read to our toddler, excited by my own childhood memories of the book. However, when I read it this time I realized that Curious George is actually stolen from the jungle by someone who is probably participating in illegal animal trade. And one of the stories has George smoking a cigar! I won’t be adding these books to our permanent collection.

  10. bomle says

    Definately “The Giving Tree.” Love shouldn’t be entirely self-sacrificing like that. And the kid who takes parts of the tree is entirely ungrateful!

    Poor tree.

  11. says

    I came to vote for Love You Forever (the creepiest book EVER, complete with stalker mom) and Rainbow Fish (Buy your Friends!), but I see I’ve been beaten to the punch. Both of those were gifts.

  12. kelly says

    I don’t like The Giving Tree. Let’s just take and take and take from Mother Earth until she doesn’t have anything left to give.

  13. Lisa says

    My vote, though redundant, is my honest first reaction to your question. “Love You Forever” is just creepy.

    “As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be?!?!” I don’t want to talk about my inevitable death to my 2 year old during the bedtime story – no thanks! And if my husband’s mom ever crawls in our window during the night we are going to have to talk about inappropriate behavior, pronto!

    Thanks for the great discussion – I can’t wait to read everyone’s answers.

  14. mel says

    YES! I have also always wondered what Big Nutbrown Hare’s Deal is. My father-in-law is in total agreement with the rest of you on Love You Forever, although I’m okay with it. The Giving Tree… good grief! I suppose there are a few interpreatations possible, but I do NOT dig the codependency-promoting aspect of it.

    And how about that trippy dream sequence Toad has in Frog and Toad Are Friends? I was always a little weirded out by that one as a kid.

  15. says

    asha, this is the best question you’ve ever asked! super hilarious. I have to agree with the many others that Love You Forever is exceedingly creepy to me. There’s also this one that technically we haven’t ‘read’ but we have it on scholastic dvd: The Beast of Monsieur Racine. Full of all kinds of crazy and not kid-friendly little details.

  16. Laura says

    I Love You Stinky Face. It starts off okay but soon the mother’s life is revolving around the child to a disturbing degree.

  17. says

    Well, two books that I absolutely can’t stand have already been covered- “I’ll Love You Forever” and “Curious George,” (so much to dislike in that series) so I guess I’ll have to comment on my #3: The Berenstain Bears. I don’t like the preachiness and the kids being called ‘brother’ and ‘sister,’ but I really hate the drawings…UGH! Unfortunately, my MIL *loves* them, so we’re constantly getting them in care packages; I end up gritting my teeth through one reading and hiding them until I can get them out of the house.

  18. says

    Love You Forever is definitely creepy, but the one I really hate is Eric Carle’s The Very Busy Spider. All the other animals keep asking the spider perfectly polite questions and she totally ignores them all! How rude!

    I think I managed to rid our house of the horrid thing after a time.

  19. Margot says

    Tico and the Golden Wings (a lot like rainbow fish, but older). Something nice happens to you, but that means everyone you know will turn mean and resentful, and this is *your* problem to deal with.
    Not that teaching generosity is bad, but I think it can be encouraged in ways other than threatening.

  20. cw says

    What about “Eat Your Peas: A Daisy Book” which has the mom bribing the kid to eat peas until the kid tells the mom to eat her brussels — so the mom serves them both ice cream. I know I’m supposed to be parenting with a sense of humor and flexibility but that book irks me.

  21. says

    Another vote for “Love You Forever.” Ick. Can’t stand that book. (Although I must say, I do like “Guess How Much I Love You.”)

    I’m also no big fan of “Green Eggs and Ham” or “The Pokey Little Puppy.” Those books just seem to go on and on and ON!

  22. Mary says

    My mother gave us “Why Do You Love Me?” by Dr. Laura. She didn’t know who Dr. Laura was, and she thought it was sweet.

    It’s pretty much pabalum the first time you read it, but the 600th time, you want to rip your eyes out. “My love is like the sun, it’s always there…bla bla bla.” It’s like someone cut up 75 Mothers’ Day cards, rearranged them in random order, and that’s the book.

    We’ve hidden the book from our son so he won’t request it at bedtime.

  23. says

    I’ll second Rainbow Fish – “look, you’ll be popular if you just buy friends off!”

    On occasion I think that The Runaway Bunny has slightly ominous overtones of how mommy bunny plans to stalk her little one.

    But hands down, the worst for me is Thomas. The anthropomorphic trains creep me out big time. I don’t know why. And as a commuter to a large city I find Crack in the Track too irritating to read. It sometimes gets accidentally-on-purpose dropped behind the bookcase.

  24. says

    Oh, The Giving Tree, no doubt. My daughter received that as a gift when she was 4 or 5, and I didn’t know the book. The first time we read it together, I kept thinking it would have a happier ending, but no. She ended up in tears.

    Thanks for that, Shel!!!

    Note to self – screen all books before reading them to kids.

  25. cw says

    you think rainbow fish is bad as a book? try spending four months of your life building an animated module of it for the sony kid site. truly, eyes were nearly torn from sockets.

  26. says

    hmmmm. I guess the only stories that “irk” me are those where the endings have been altered to be “happy”-I’m thinking of many versions of fairy tales that have been sanitized. That irritates me to no end.

    Guess how much I love you seemed more like a normal conversation I might have with a kid than anything, but maybe I just don’t read into these things as much? No one liked the book anyway in our house. We love the “If you give a mouse a cookie” books though. And Judith Voirst.

  27. says

    I think the plain old fairy tales by the Grimm Brothers and other notable storytellers are some of the most disturbing….Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and Rose Red, and The Little Mermaid are just a few I can think of. (The real Little Mermaid turns into sea foam at the end…not a happy ending!!)

  28. Anna Adam says

    Too many to mention. I agree with Guess How Much I Love You, but I just read it without the last final one-upping. And I’ve always shuddered at Love You Forever. That’s one creepy mom! Goodnight Moon is just DUMB. Not fond of the Thomas the Tank Engine series of books or videos. They stress the “usefulness” of the characters way too much. It’s most important to be “useful” it seems. And this one is just … me. But I LOVE Brown Bear, Brown Bear because my kids do, but why does it have to be a “goldfish” and not an “orange fish” to work with the pattern? My kids always said either “orange goldfish” or “orange fish” and it pained me to let them because that’s NOT what was printed.

  29. angie g. says

    Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.

    What kids would want to hear about parents dying or grown ups crawling into windows at night??

    Super creepy!

    Although I do like the crazy 80s style illustrations.

  30. Hot Wife says

    And I thought I was going to be the only one. I hate Love You Forever. The story and illustrations are bizarre. It totally creeps me out.

    I have to disagree with Laura’s vote for I Love You Stinky Face. That happens to be one of our favorites. I used to read it to my son and now he reads it. For me, the point is that the mother has unconditional love for her child.

  31. says

    It is so nice to know that I am not the only one that finds that book ultra creepy and annoying. That is the only creepy book in my collection since I am rather picky about what goes in.

    I actually passed on the chance to review this book because I was worried that it would be just as creepy. I am sad that I missed out on a good book.

  32. Sophie's Mom says

    Oh God. My daughter has this Sesame Street storybook which I HATE. The stories are all supposed to be read in three minutes or less but it seems like they last an eternity. How many times can Elmo refer to himself in the third person during the course of one story? WAY TOO MANY TIMES!

  33. says

    At this point, I’ve read all my daughter’s books to her at least 200 times each, so they’re all just a bit annoying for me. None of them are creepy though. I do find at this age that any non-board book is annoying, because we can’t read it! My daughter, 18 months, still can’t help but grab and tear/crinkle/fold pages that are made of paper. Nobody told me about this before I had a baby, but I have learned the hard way that for the first few years, board books are the way to go.

  34. Jill in Atlanta says

    They’ve all been mentioned above: Rainbow Fish, I’ll Love You Forever, The Giving Tree. I still have them in the collection, but I hide them. All worse offenders have disappeared.

  35. Uly says

    Books that I *have*? A Special Day for Mommy, definitely.

    I got it for the older niece to give to their mom for Mother’s Day, and I really wish I hadn’t. The main character goes around making a huge mess, and her mom is in every frame, smiling and cleaning it all up. Pisses me off every time, because any sane mother would stop her kid somewhere around the time they tore up the garden (“I know she likes these flowers, she planted them all over!!”) to tell her to put them back and please wipe up the water on the bathroom floor.

  36. Brooke says

    How Big is a Pig? by Clare Beaton. As much as I love the illustrations I can’t get over the last line: “This pig is my mom and she’s the biggest of all!” It catches me off guard every time!

  37. says

    Nursery rhymes definitely fall in the disturbing category. Georgie Porgie (kissed the girls and made them cry?), Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son (stole a pig and then gets beat?), Goosie Goosie Gander (throws an old man down the stairs?), etc.

    I have to also add my vote for “Love You Forever.” Something about that book has always struck me as being just a little too weird.

  38. Jen says

    Love You Forever and Guess How Much I Love You are vying for #1 on my family’s Irritating Books List. I just read Bedtime for Francis to my son for the first time, and will never read it to him again — I don’t want to teach my little guy to sleep soundly under threat of physical harm!

  39. says

    I recently found a copy of one of my old books – Henny Penny. I couldn’t even read it to my kids. AhHHHHHH.

    I also don’t like the real story of the three little pigs…

  40. Elizabeth says

    It’s not enough to make me stop reading it, but Curious George is kinda dated. He’s taken from his natural habitat to live in a zoo, then is left alone unless we need him to fly the rocket or something, he gets into ether, he smokes a pipe. The list goes on and on. I love them, though, so I don’t know what I’ll do when the kid is old enough to question it.

  41. Coco Bean says

    We have this book called “Bedtime Stories” which consist of long ago stories, including “Little Red Riding Hood,” “The Three Little Pigs,” “Chicken Little,” and “Jack in the Beanstalk.”

    I can’t help but detect violence, crudeness, and theft.

  42. Courtney says

    I agree with most of the above. Just found a new one in our Christmas stash – Gingerbread Baby. Creepy looking farm family makes a gingerbread baby who then runs around creating havoc. In the end he is imprisoned in a gingerbread house. Weird! Note on the Curious George’s – there are newer versions written and drawn in the “style of”, that are more modern and less creepy. I too got out my old books from childhood and was alarmed by the snatching and smoking. There are also books inspired by the movie.

  43. Dina says

    I’m with some of the others on “I’ll Love You Forever.” Totally creepy. And I’m not a fan of the gender roles in “My World.” But the book I had to hide? Doggies by Sandra Boynton. If I had to bark my way through that book one more time I just may have lost it.

  44. Dawn says

    The Caillou books are some of the worst for me… He is so whiny and disagreeable; I am not sure why anyone would want to encourage that behavior in a child…

  45. says

    I have to agree with “Goodnight Moon.” It’s a book I’d always heard of but never actually read until my daughter received it last year for her first Christmas. I thought the illustrations and even text were a bit boring for all the hoopla.

    I personally like “The Giving Tree” (HUGE Silverstein fan) and “I’ll Love You Forever” as an adult, but I’ve not yet read them to my toddler. Perhaps the sentiments and deeper message are meant more for parents than the interpretations a child might get out of them.

  46. Sarah says

    I got the book “Little 1″ for my niece on her first birthday. I ordered it from Amazon and I loved the idea of it and the art by iconic graphic designer Paul Rand. The story is about a little number 1 who gets lonely and tries to hang out with other numbers, but they keep rejecting him. Finally he comes across a zero and they decide to stick together and pretend to be a number 10. It’s cute, but it bothers me slightly that the book’s solution to loneliness is to fit in by pretending to be something you are not. If I really wanted to read into it, the number 1 enters into a co-dependent relationship with a total “zero”. But perhaps I’m looking too deep. :)

  47. Marta says

    I love you forever is so disturbing, I will not allow it in my home.
    Holding the mother in your arms while she dies? Creepy.
    I’m glad I’m not the only one.
    Marta :)

  48. Karen says

    “I’ll Love You Forever” instantly popped into my head when I read this post. My mother-in-law gave it to us as new parents and I thought it was the most awful thing ever to read to a child. I actually kept it away from the kids’ books! I think by now it has gone the way of some donation center.

  49. Amy says

    I love several of Sandra Boynton’s books, but I HATE “Pajama Time.” I think it might have been written for her children’s music album and *then* made into a book – it just really reads like it’s supposed to be a song, including “ohhhh ohhh!” choruses, etc. It isn’t creepy, but it is really annoying.

  50. says

    For me it’s “Runaway Bunny”, where the mother rabbit threatens to stalk her son until he sighs and resigns himself to his captivity.

    We don’t have a television, and rarely see movies. Our pediatrician’s waiting room hosts a collection of made-from-video or made-from-television books, whose unintelligible plots of inscrutable morals are printed on full-color cells from the videos that spawned them.

    Unless you’ve studied the video these books are impossible to read. I believe they are like scrapbooks of fond memories of the video masquerading as stand-alone story books.

    Worse than those, however, are anything “starring” Barbie dolls as characters.

  51. wwbd says

    Both of mine have already been mentioned: The Rainbow Fish is super annoying. Just because you have something special (in this case are born with it) doesn’t mean that you have to give it to the first entitled fish that swims along just so they will like you. The other is the Berenstain Bears. I cannot stand people referring to their children as “Brother” or “Sister” as if it is their given name, which I fully admit is my own weird pet peeve.

  52. says

    I actually quite enjoy creeping others out by pointing that The Cat In The Hat tells kids that it’s ok for mom to leave you alone in the house, and when strangers come over you should let them in – and then not tell mom about it. Green Eggs and Ham, meanwhile, tells kids that peer pressure works and you should just do what your friends tell you to do so they’ll shut up about it.

  53. says

    Honestly, my kids don’t have any books I find creepy or disturbing. I think that is a good thing! I will say we have a toddle book on the shelf that is Barney songs and I don’t like it, at all. LOL

  54. carrie says

    While I agree that I Love You Forever isn’t the best book to read to a child, the story behind the book is worth knowing. He never intended for it to be a children’s story. Here’s a link to his site:


    I agree with Curious George though! My daughter loves the PBS cartoon, so my dad bought her the first book. George gets stolen and smokes! Luckily, kids don’t ‘get’ the political incorrectness of this and enjoy the story anyway.

  55. heather says

    my husband thinks “5 little ladybugs” is morbid, since you’re led to believe the ladybugs are eaten.

  56. Journomom says

    “Thomas Tells a Lie” – about how Thomas the Tank Engine lies to his friends and gets away with it, and is so riddled with guilt that he’s distracted, gets himself derailed and eventually gives himself away. Ick.

  57. says

    _Guess How Much I Love You_ and _Curious George_ are both on my list of books I don’t like. Fortunately, my toddler never got interested in them, either, so it was easy to retire them from her bookshelf.

  58. Janna says

    I can’t stand reading the book “HAve you seen my cat” by Eric Carle. Page after page of “have you seen my cat?” followed by “this is not my cat.” So, so annoying.

  59. says

    Glad to know we’re not the only household who things “I Love You Forever” is creepy! It’s a sweet sentiment…but when mom crawls in the son’s dorm room? That’s just too much!

    And I have said the very same thing about “Guess How Much I Love You”…competitive much?

  60. says

    I agree with Moira that The Berenstain Bears are waaaay preachy. Though the one with the bully cracked me up because at the end, the bully ends up in therapy! Unfortunately one of my husband’s clients just gave us the enter Berenstain Bears collection and my son loves them.

    I’ve never actually read Love You Forever, but this is definitely not the first place that I’ve heard it’s creepy. I do like Guess How Much I Love You though, the oneupmanship doesn’t really bother me.

    I can’t stand most of Dr. Seuss – they go on and on and are hard to read! When my son was younger I could get away with reading the first 2 lines of each page but he doesn’t stand for that anymore.

  61. mircat says

    The Giving Tree—yeah, destroying your core self for your child/loved one is a great example. Bummer because I love Silverstein’s silly poetry and artwork.

  62. says

    My daughter convinced me to buy a Disney Princesses celebrate Halloween book to read to her this year. Despite only being about 120 words, the darn thing was so boring I couldn’t pay attention the whole way through — and I was reading it aloud to her!

  63. says

    We were given some new editions of the old fashioned golden books, including one about firefighters. “Hurray for the brave firemen!” it says.

    I know it’s old, but I wish there could be at least one firewoman or at least one person of color in the entire book.

  64. Sandy says

    I bought a book called “The Bunnies are not in their Beds” because I thought it would help teach my kids to stay in bed and go to sleep. Wrong! Instead, the bunnies keep getting up and playing and the parents keep telling them to get in bed. Finally, the parents go to bed, and the bunnies go run around the house unsupervised until they fall asleep from sheer exhaustion. Not only is it a bad message, but it’s sooo repetitive to read. It just drove me nuts!

  65. says

    For bizarre book I would concur with Goodnight Moon. I bought this book for my baby girl thinking it’s iconic, everyone loves this book (yaddayadda) and the words don’t make sense! You say goodnight to a bowl full of mush?!? In your bedroom? Bizarre.

    For creep factor – it’s definitely I Love You Forever. The picture of the mom crawling in the window gives me the shivers!

  66. Sarah in Pittsburgh says

    How about “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”?
    Yeah, go out and provoke some wild animals. Great idea.

  67. Cecily T says

    Hmmm…I’d have to go with any classic fairy tale (Cinderella, Little Mermaid) that’s been doctored up by the Disney ‘happy ending’ school of tales. I remember a collection of fairy tales (for children, not that adult ‘Grimms’ Grimmest’ or whatever it’s called) that included “The Little Match Girl” as well as “The Little Mermaid”. The mermaid version was the one where she must kill the prince in order to live (by stabbing him with a special knife). She chooses instead to throw herself into the sea and become foam on the waves.

    Little Match Girl is even worse. I clearly remember the illustrations in it. It’s about a poor girl selling matches on the street for money. She gets so cold that she gives in and lights one match after another, burning up her inventory. She eventually starts to hallucinate fireworks and other montages. They find her, frozen to death, the next morning.


  68. stacy says

    “Pat the Bunny” really gets under my skin. It’s just so asinine; yet for some reason, about 847 people decided to give it to me when my son was born. I know, it’s an old book, times were different then. But “Hamlet” is a lot older, and still manages to be coherent.

    “Love You Forever” wins for creepiness, though. “Can you spell co-dependency, Johnny?”

  69. says

    I can’t think of one for me, besides Goodnight moon (I have no idea why people like this book)but my husband will not read The Giving tree(by Shel Siverstein), he really dislikes the kids and finds the book very depressing so I always ended up reading it. I like it so I don’t mind.

  70. Corina says

    My most annoying book is called Tomie’s Little Mother Goose by Tomie dePaola. It can’t even seem to get the nursery rhymes right.

  71. says

    Another mom here that can’t stand Have you seen my cat? Oh god the repetition….make it stop! Actually most of Eric Carle’s books drive me up the wall.

  72. Heather F. says

    Hi Asha!

    ‘Go Dog Go’ drives me crazy because it’s inane and endless. I never read ‘The Story of Babar’ without skipping the death scene – I know how upset my daughter would be if she learned that Babar’s mother is shot by hunters.

  73. Susan says

    Parts by Tedd Arnold. The body of the little boy in the story keeps falling apart. Pieces just fall off and he uses tape and staples etc to put them back on! My older daughter, 5 at the time, screamed everytime she saw the cover. Needless to say, it was given away quickly!

  74. says

    Hmmm…good question – I have 1 Dr. Seuss book – Wherever you Go (I think that’s what it’s called) that seems kinda weird and creepy and strange to me every time I read it! ;)

  75. Nutmeg says

    I kind of like Guess how much I love you… but mostly because I like that it is so vague about the relationship between the little and the big nutbrown hare that it is probably one of the few books that could work for any child and primary caregiver, no matter their relationship.

    My book is one that creeped me WAAAAAAY out when I was a kid, which is Outside Over There, by Sendak. Totally freaked me all the time. Gave me shivers to just look at the pictures.

  76. carmie says

    We were given most of Jan Pfloog’s books as a gift and I get irritated at the unreal world portrayed in some of them. Everyone’s white! And Mom stays home and cooks! Although “The Kitten Book” is pretty cute.

    “My First Truck/Things that Go” board books are beginning to haunt my dreams, mostly because that’s ALL my son wants to read.

  77. says

    @Cecily T – those versions were in the Reader’s Digest collection of Fairy Tales. I have the same book, but it’s in storage.

    The books that creep me out the most are Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (Virginia Lee Burton)and In the Night Kitchen (Maurice Sendak).

    Yeah, we’re going to leave Mike in a hole in the ground while we put up a building around him (look at the picture of them framing in the building; Mike is waving from the cellar).

    And poor Mickey flies from his bed out of his jammies nekkid into the Night Kitchen.


  78. says

    The ones I really can’t stand don’t live at our house. My friend has a whole collection of these books that have buttons that play songs. There’s a collection of 9 or 10 that include songs like, “The Ants Go Marching” and “Mary Had Little Lamb.” Aside from the songs being annoying when played over and over and OVER again (which they always are), they’re obnoxious because the words in the book are wrong. They’ve gone and made up their own lyrics for the songs and it ticks my friend and me off to no end.

  79. Jeanie says

    I am so happy I came to this site today — I am so creeped out by “Love You Forever.” I actually tossed it just last week (it was a gift, so I feel kind of bad). Another one that creeps me out is “In the Night Kitchen” — realize I’m probably alone on that one, but it’s so weird to watch those strange “bakers” try to cook the kid!

  80. Jessica says

    Has to be In The Night Kitchen…not only do they try to bake the boy, he is buck naked…and the pictures are a bit too detailed for our taste!! Put some jammies on kid!

  81. says

    Right now we’re reading Just the Way You Are by Marcus Pfister, and while I get that it’s supposed to be affirmation that your friends like you ‘just the way you are’, I really feel like it is about how contagious negativity can be. Every animal has fine self-esteem until the animal before it is negative. Then that animal is negative too. Only Kangaroo escapes this cycle.


  82. Leyla says

    I actually love “Guess How Much I Love You”… but I agree with the others about “Love You Forever”, “The Giving Tree”, and “Rainbow Fish” being creepy. Also, someone gifted us “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”, which my toddler loves– but the line “…don’t go into Mr. McGregor’s garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor” is a bit disturbing for me to be reading to a child.

  83. Anne says

    I’m so shocked at how many people think Love You Forever is creepy! I suppose climbing into a grown man’s window is pretty strange, but the overall story is so touching that I’ve never noticed.

    The Runaway Bunny, on the other hand, really bothers me with its “you can never escape me” message. Blech!

    The Potty Book for Girls annoys the heck out of me because so many of the rhymes and cadences don’t quite work right – not to mention the grammatical errors (“…just march off to the potty like me and teddy do”). Sure, Dr. Seuss books can sometimes drag on, but at least he knew how to count his syllables!

  84. Zed says

    I am usually one who loves unusual illustrations, but David Shannon’s “David” series of books creep me out incredibly. Especially “Oh David.” That boy’s nose almost makes me gag.

    David Shannon’s other books are WONDERFULLY illustrated, so please don’t be turned off of all his work because of me.

  85. Anonymous says

    These are not books in our personal collection, but two books I remembered from my childhood are on my list of creepy books for kids. I recently checked them out from the library, and I will not be reading them to our daughter again.
    1) Jemima Puddle Duck by Beatrix Potter – just too creepy for words. Not going to be read to my daughter
    2) Madeline’s Rescue by Ludwig Bemelmans – creepy pictures, creepy words. I thought I had liked it as a child, but after reading it to my daughter once, I won’t be reading it again.

  86. C's mum says

    Our Thomas the Tank Engine storybook was banned. Awful. Mean engines holding grudges and trying to get back at each other, playing tricks, one-upping each other, taunting, and pushing each other’s button. None of the characters ever seems to learn anything that sticks about treating each other decently. Come to think of it, it might just prepare our boys for life working in an office…

  87. says

    No Berenstain Bears in my house – the style of the illustrations just makes me itchy. Many from the Golden Book series are dated, I just borrowed The Yellow Taxi, and while Mio loved pointing out the taxi over and over again, I was dismayed to see that the only people of color were the porters in the last picture.

    As to creepy content, I’m putting up with the stalkiness in Runaway Rabbit for now, because we enjoy looking for the little rabbit it each picture.

    I’m in the other camp regarding fairy tales: I hope I can read the real versions to Mio before he gets brainwashed by Disney’s sugarcoated take on them.

  88. says

    I was an English major who is planning on homeschooling my children and I will NEVER let my kids read Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. It is usually taught to freshman in high school but I was really creeped out by it-I would never let my kids read it nor teach it to my students.

  89. Marnie A. Bodapaty says

    1. David series by David Shannon. The illustrations look like a deranged drug addict was let loose with crayons. The faces are very scary although I think they were meant to be cute as if a toddler had scribbled them.

    2. Goodnight Moon. How reassuring that I am not alone in this! I find it creepy- what’s with the big room with its weird contents? Who is the old lady? Why is there a bowl of mush on the table? My personal favorite page is “goodnight nobody”- goodnight nobody??? What does that mean? CREEPY!

  90. holly says

    i would have to agree… “guess how much i love you” is noooooot on my must have list lol! its wordy, and way too difficult for a child to “get” the concept

  91. says

    Goodnight Moon is not a favorite of mine either. I don’t like those bunnies dressed as people and the illustrations are just not comforting to me. It’s one of those books where it is obvious that the rhymes were being forced, it just doesn’t make sense.

  92. Avari's Mom says

    I Love You Forever is totally creepy – and when our baby was born we received several copies!

  93. Melissa D says

    My daughter got an Elmo TMX last year for Christmas and was so freaked out by it that I sold it this year and bought her something new for Christmas. So any book with Elmo in it is creepy in our house.

  94. Michelle Sanders says

    I know a lot of people are going to disagree with me but.. Beatrix Potter’s book are , well, odd. I mean they go off on weird tangents and odd side descriptions of things. I received the whole collection of them when my daughter was born, as a gift. I was excited to read them to her but as we got into each new book I realized how strange they were.

  95. AngeMand says

    I recall a children’s book given to us about a boy adding bugs to his sister’s sandwich. It’s an odd book because you flip through layers of the sandwich, lift the flap, and see what the boy added. The book didn’t last because the pages got ripped out. Aside from that, I get an awful creepy-crawly feel when I even *think* a bug has made its way into my home, let alone on my lunch or on my skin. Oog. That book went to the recycle bin right away.

  96. says

    sorry if i’m repeating, don’t have time to read responses!
    Creepy Books:
    Love You Forever – by Robert N. Munsch
    please don’t send me hate mail
    Goodnite Moon
    my husband and i read the line
    “And the little old lady whispering hush” as
    “And the little old lady whispering – Nevermore, nevermore”
    Our kid will hopefully not get into fights about this with other children later in life when discussing this classic!

  97. says

    Even creepier than the book itself, as I was getting ready to comment on this post, my three year old brought me “Love You Forever” and asked me if it was for kids. Weird.

    I also can’t stand Everyone Poops, but unfortunately, my son is obsessed with poop, naming it, comparing it to animals, etc. I hope this is just a phase!

  98. hedra says

    I also detest the same book (Guess how much I love you) – it actually made me ANGRY. I put that book away after I read it once. It was like love keepaway, nyah-nyah, I love you MORE!

    I also find The Giving Tree really upsetting, and did even as a child. The tree gives and gives and gives, sacrifices its LIFE for the boy, and even when it’s only a stump, STILL tries to support the weight of the old man who abused it and took without thanking over his entire life. ARGH. As a child, I saw that book as a lesson in how to be a doormat and call it love. GRRR. How about some gratitude!??

    And okay, this one is perhaps a glimpse inside me too much… but as a child, I hated the Ugly Duckling. But mainly because I felt that it was a false promise, and that some ugly ducklings (like, in my mind, myself) would grow up to be ugly ducks. Granted, I don’t think that was the case for me (not a swan, maybe, but not an ugly duck), but the lesson bothered me. It also felt exclusionary – like ducks were only to be with other ducks, and swans would never be loved by those who weren’t like themselves. Couldn’t the ducks value the cygnet for what it was? Why did it have to try to fit in, and why was it treated shabbily for not being ‘just like everyone else’? Again, even as a child, that one would just make me cry and cry (my mom eventually stopped trying to explain it to me, and just learned to never include it in story time with me). Born with a social conscience, I guess, LOL!

  99. says

    There are so many books that I read my daughter that I’m thinking, “WHAT?!?!” Why are they saying this to children? I seem to change the story lines up and put things away “safe” when she isn’t looking. We read a lot of books, but I agree with “I’ll Love You Forever” being the creepiest for me. I read it the first time outloud without reading it first myself and regretted it! So many questions!

  100. says

    “The Giving Tree” has always been my number one creepy book and then Nutbrown hare and “Love you forever.” Funny. But we also did get a Peter Rabbit board book from my mother after the birth of my first child which she ordered from Amazon without looking through it. A couple of the pages talked about Father Rabbit smoking his “bunny tobacco” and Mother making “cowslip wine” for Father. Cigarettes and alcohol in a children’s book -nice. If the farmer had appeared with his shot gun, I would have swore the book was written by the ATF.

  101. says

    Oh god, that and it’s copies – it’s not McBratney’s only sickly book – are so gross, it’s true. And the perennial creep-out favourite, Munsch’s I Love You Forever, even if it does contain a sweet little song. In the same vein, Margaret Wise Brown’s Runaway Bunny is kinda icky and weird. And oh, don’t start me, there are so many that are irritating.

  102. Eileen says

    Dr. Seuss! Dr. Seuss! I just hate that they don’t even follow the path of an actual story. One fish, two fish has GOT to GO!

  103. Traci says

    “Everyone Poops” by Taro Gomi.

    My son received it from my husband’s best friend for his 2nd birthday. Ummmm … yeah. Never cracked the spine of that one.

  104. says

    I would say the one that is creepy is the “I love you forever” book. I like it right up until the part where the son leaves home. She should just call to tell him she loves him. I do think it is sweet how he carrys on the tradition of singing to his baby, though.

    Thanks for this contest! I have kept my eye on this book. My son always says, “I love you more!” So, I think it would be a great book to have! :)

  105. Melissa says

    Disturbing (only mildly though): 5 little ladybugs and another book that’s the same thing only with ducks, Five Little Ducks “5 little ducks went out one day, over the hills and far away, mother duck called quack quack quack quack, but only four little ducks came back…”

    Annoying: Ten little monkeys jumping on the bed…might as well be singing 99 bottles of beer on the wall for as long and as boring as it seems night after night before bedtime (and sometimes she wants to hear it AGAIN after we just read it!)

  106. erika says

    The first book that popped into my mind was Love you Forever, which – like everyone else – totally creeped me out with it’s stalker mother and death theme.

    From my own childhood collection, I had nightmares after my parents read to me from a book of Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales that included The Little Mermaid (death by seafoam) and The Little Match Girl (death by freezing).

  107. Tami says

    My son’s book THE GIVING TREE is harsh to me. There comes a point quickly in the story where I think, “Enough is ENOUGH! That tree has already sacrificed. When is that boy/young man/man going to be satisfied?” In reality, we all know most couldn’t give So MUCH as that tree had! Yes, lessons can be learned from that tree…

  108. says

    I can’t remember the title of this book, it’s been years since I read it (and I keep meaning to remove it from their shelf)… but it’s a story about a man who falls in love with the spirit of the wind (a woman whom he’s never met), and captures her in a bag to have to himself. ????!!!!!!!!!!!!

  109. Robyn says

    Most of mine have been taken by earlier posts so I’ll throw in “The Silly Book” not for the creepy factor but for the irritating factor. Yes, it’s supposed to be silly, but if you have to read it more than 3 times, you’ll want to pull your hair out. So imagine how I feel after 200 times!

  110. Diana S. says

    Most of ours are already here, so I’ll mention our one Sandra Boynton disappointment: Birthday Monsters. My son was rather shocked that the monsters could destroy someone’s birthday and then make it all better!

  111. Cindi Hoppes says

    Hi, The book “Mommy, Go Away” has never set right with me! Please enter me in your book giveaway. Thanks,Cindi

  112. Laura says

    my husband bought our daughter a book called I’m Afraid, Too – I think he was in a hurry and got drawn in by the art (sort of Eric Carle-esque). But the story (about a piece of twig which gets incorporated into a craft) is super-creepy – my daughter doesn’t even like it.

  113. Jen H says

    Wow, guess I’ll never read “I’ll Love You Forever”!
    Winner for me is “The Littlest Angel” by Charles Tazewell. It was a first Christmas gift for my daughter – We read it together exactly ONCE.
    The Littlest Angel was “exactly four years, six months, five days, seven hours, and forty-two minutes old”! I’m sorry but I refuse to read any books about a little boy who dies and goes to heaven, no matter what the storyline is.
    This book gave me goosebumps and made me cry…

  114. Melissa says

    I find Good Night Gorilla pretty irritating. I have to keep remembering what story I made up last time we read it because if I don’t he knows and keeps correcting me. “No, Mommy, that’s not how it goes!” Would it hurt to add some words?!?!?!?

  115. Gigi says

    We got multiple copies of Goodnight Moon for our baby shower, and we didn’t really care for the book itself. It’s a classic, but the illustrations are boring! Would someone please update it?

  116. Ashley B says

    The creepiest book of all I think is either The Velveteen Rabbit…in which the little boy gets scarlet fever and nearly dies, so then they announce all the boys toys must be burned…including the rabbit! Though, the original Winnie the Pooh stories bother me as well with Christopher Robin with a gun.

  117. Heather says

    The Rainbow Fish bothers me…and Goodnight Moon does as well. Why would you say goodnight to mush? Thanks for entering me! We are always looking for new books that we would enjoy reading to our LO!

  118. Holly says

    There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly!!! I can’t stand this book! I also don’t like Rainbow Fish!

  119. Lisa says

    My son loves the “David ” series by David Shannon, but I think that the pictures of David are pretty creepy and ugly.

    2 other weird ones are “In the Night Kitchen” by Maurice Sendak and “The Man” by Raymond Briggs. Both just creep me out. Actually there are a lot of children’s books where the illustrations seem to change the mood of the story.

  120. liv says

    i have a tie: i’ve got another vote for “the giving tree,” but i also detest “you are special little one” by nancy tafuri. it’s so long and drawn out and the illustrations are so boring!

  121. mariesalias says

    I don’t really find any of my son’s books creepy… though I didn’t like Goodnight Moon enough to purposely request not receiving it.

    My husband thinks Love You Forever is creepy. I used to think it was a bit strange when my older son was a baby (21 years ago!) but now when I read it to my 1 year old, I find it endearing. Maybe because I’m 20 years older now and have a grown son and am that much closer to death myself.

    The Giving Tree I read one time, ever, many years ago. I won’t read that one again.

    Reading over the replies I’ve gotten a good idea on bedtime stories NOT to get. Thanks!

  122. STL Mom says

    Whenever I read The Runaway Bunny, I want to tell my kids, “Don’t worry, someday YOUR mommy will let you move out and have your own life.” But my kids love the story and don’t seem to have any problems with the message, so I just read the book without commentary.

  123. says

    I’m not creeped out by any of my son’s books, though I had noticed the one upsmanship of Nutbrown hair.

    One book I add running commentary to is Goldilocks and the Three Bears – I mean she is peeking in windows, eating other’s food, and breaking their things! Goldilocks is not a good girl.

    I am listening to Jumping Monkeys at the moment and they mentioned this site to check out kids books before you buy them: http://lookybook.com/. It could be useful.

  124. says

    while i hate “the giving tree” as much as the next person, i really loathe “love you forever”by robert munch the most. the senior citizen grandma sneaking into her son’s house creeps me out a la a hitchcock movie.sacharrine. blech.

  125. Jen L says

    Goodnight Moon is the one children’s book I just can’t take. Not because of repeated reading, but because it just seems like the little kid who won’t go to sleep book.