20 Bad Books To Give To Young Kids

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Pig and Pepper, Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Hand-Colored Illustration by John Tenniel, circa 1865. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

11. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

If Where the Red Fern Grows was too heavy for you, then perhaps you want to move on to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It’s a well-known classic, after all, and is full of light, silly imagery. You may just want to have a “drugs are bad” talk with your kid before letting them read it for themselves.

Seriously, think about it. Alice finds herself in a strange, surreal land at the beginning of the book. She quickly starts eating and drinking whatever she finds, experiencing the strange effects of potions that make her tiny, and then gigantic. Alice could at least exercise a little caution before cramming a mysterious cake down her gullet, but perhaps we should give her a pass for being from Victorian times.

This book is the second oldest work on the list (Hans Christian Andersen started publishing his creepy fairy tales in the 1830s). Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was written in 1865 by Lewis Carroll (whose real identity was as a deacon and mathematician named Charles Lutwidge Dodgson). It’s a lovely example of literary nonsense, and contains several plays on logic, thanks to Carroll’s day job as a mathematician.

It is also full of bizarre characters, such as the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, and the hookah-smoking Caterpillar. Perhaps the most frightening character is the Chesire Cat, who occasionally appears only as a disembodied voice or as a set of eyes and a mouthful of sharp teeth.