Not Your Usual Storytime Books!

My quest to find perfect stories to read at Rainbow Storytime often results in finding books I wouldn’t actually read in any Storytime.  As a result, I’ve discovered that I have a strange fascination with books that are seemingly targeted for children, yet cover subjects that may be considered dark or heavy for a young audience, and are arguably not appropriate for a Storytime!

Death, grief, danger and fear can be difficult to talk about, especially with children.  Books may help parents and caregivers vocalize ideas and feelings about these heavy subjects, creating pathways to discussion and open a personal dialogue to process situations and reach further understanding.

The books on this list are packed with emotions – fear, sadness, grief, loss, horror – and some are just simply wickedly humorous!  I hope you find something here to provoke an emotional journey that you didn’t expect to take…  Toby

Duck, Death, and the Tulip

BONUS BOOK: I've decided to update this list with a title that just arrived - Duck, Death and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch.  This is one of the most fascinating books that I have ever read.  Originally published in Germany, this unique take on death has received very interesting reactions from everyone with whom I shared it - amusement and amazement, shock and sadness, calm contemplation.  It has definitely triggered some very thought provoking conversations. Here also is a link to an animated version of this very moving tale: Duck, Death and the Tulip, opens a new window.

The Flat Rabbit

An oddly charming and thought provoking story about respecting those we’ve lost.

My Father's Arms Are A Boat

An achingly beautiful and moving book about a family grief.


A story of a sweet friendship that takes a terrifying twist when bullies interfere.

The Dark

Lemony Snicket’s very interesting take on a simple childhood fear.


A wordless story about a family’s horrifying experience with a flood in their home.

That Is Not A Good Idea!

A classic Mo Willems tale with a delicious ending!

World on A String

An intense story of friendship and loss, and letting go.

Good Little Wolf

A story with a twisted ending you may or may not see coming.