Pre-K

Growing Reader

12 Funny Children’s Books Starring Silly, Lovable Monsters

by Tom Burns

A lot of kids love monsters, which is hilarious when you think about it.

In theory, monsters should terrify children. They’re big, aggressive, weird-looking creatures that lurk under beds and jump out of dark closets. But when my daughter was younger, she was way more scared of self-flushing toilets than anything with big teeth and tentacles. Kids like to use the word “monster” when they’re nervous about the unknown, but, when a child actually sees a monster, nine times out of ten, they laugh. Because monsters are huge, goofy weirdoes, and who doesn’t love that?

If your kid can’t get enough of monsters — the Sesame Street or Hotel Transylvania monsters, not the “Charlize Theron in ‘Monster’” monsters — they will definitely enjoy these side-splitting illustrated books that brilliantly show off just how funny monsters can be.

  • The Monster at the End of this Book

    by Jon Stone, illustrated by Michael Smollin

    Just putting this out there ... this may be one of the smartest, funniest books ever written. And, yes, it does star Sesame Street’s lovable, furry old Grover. The concept is ingenious: Grover does not want you to read this book, because there’s a monster in the final pages, and Grover is legit scared. What follows is perhaps the best read-aloud experience a kid can have, as Grover keeps begging us to stop as we proudly tear down his defenses. It’s smart, it’s meta, it’s laugh-out-loud funny. This is a true classic.

  • Quit Calling Me a Monster!

    by Jory John, illustrated by Bob Shea

    Is “monster” a bad word? Kids will get a real kick out of the premise of this picture book as a shaggy, toothy creature implores readers to not use the “m-word.” His real name is Floyd, and author Jory John mines a lot of humor out of a classic crazy monster begging kids to notice his other qualities. (Even if he does occasionally hide under a bed.) Young readers will love Floyd’s attempts to hide his monstrous tendencies and fans of John and Bob Shea’s previous collaboration, I Will Chomp You!, will be delighted.

  • Eat Pete

    by Michael Rex

    The title says it all — the monster in this book really wants to chow down on a young boy named Pete. But Pete is just too excited to have a new exciting friend to play with and he’s not going to allow himself to become lunch until they have a lot of fun together. The playful tension of “OMG, is he really going to eat Pete?” will keep your youngest readers on the edge of their seats, but mostly because the story is so funny (and that poor monster is so hungry).

  • There’s a Monster in Your Book

    by Tom Fletcher, illustrated by Greg Abbott

    This is another killer read-aloud book, the kind that’s so energetic and fun that it might actually be a bad idea to read it to your kid at bedtime. (They’ll laugh too much.) The premise is simple: There’s a monster in this picture book and you have to figure out how to get him out. Author and YouTube star Tom Fletcher really does an amazing job of making the book feel interactive as the mischievous monster gleefully chews through the fourth wall, tears through the pages, and hysterically engages your kid's imagination. (Make sure to check out the new board book version too!)

  • Does Frankenstein Get Hungry?

    by John Solimine

    Every caregiver knows that one of the scariest things about parenting is the endless barrage of questions. Kids are naturally inquisitive and, in this clever picture book, John Solimine helps demystify monsters by having a bright young girl ask every monster question that’s ever occurred to her. It’s an incredibly funny setup, which actually invites children to think about monsters in a more empathetic light. I mean, can you really be that scared of the boogeyman after someone comes out and asks, “Does the boogeyman have boogers?”

  • The Monster Next Door

    by David Soman

    This is a perfect book for young readers who sometimes struggle with the emotions of friendship. Soman shows us a boy meeting his next-door neighbor, a monster, and going through all the stages of getting to know each other — introductions, playing, getting annoyed, fighting, regret, and making up. The visuals and the situations are exaggerated and legitimately funny, but kids will find a lot they recognize in how they sometimes cast their friends as monsters when they disagree.

  • Monster Mayhem

    by Christopher Eliopoulos

    Perfect for young readers who are ready for graphic novels, Monster Mayhem centers on a robot-building girl who has trouble making friends — until some unexpected magic leads Chomp, a monster who loves to eat buildings, to her door. It’s a wildly exciting monster-filled romp that will keep kids laughing and in suspense until its final pages.

  • I Want to Be in a Scary Story

    by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Jean Jullien

    Little Monster is determined to star in his very own story — and not just any story will do. It’s got to be a scary one! But as the author tries setting the scene with dark forests and creepy houses, Little Monster realizes it’s quite nerve-wracking to be the one actually living in the scary story. Maybe a few jokes would lighten the mood? This interactive story lets your readers think about how they’d create a story for Little Monster, while still offering plenty of bumps and jumps along the way.

  • Alma and the Beast

    by Esmé Shapiro

    Author-illustrator Esmé Shapiro turns the monster story on its head in Alma and the Beast. Our narrator is Alma, who lives in a fantastical (and quite hairy) world, where she spends her days doing totally normal activities like braiding trees. And then one day, a small hairless beast — that is, a girl — climbs up a tree and finds herself in Alma’s world, and soon missing home. Together, Alma and her new friend embark on a quest to find the beast’s way home, all the while celebrating their differences and similarities.

  • If Your Monster Won’t Go to Bed

    by Denise Vega, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

    Listen, parents, we have to face it — we’re just no good at putting monsters to bed. Luckily, kids can get the help they need with this hilarious how-to guide about the ideal bedtime routine for household monsters. (Hint: they prefer scary bedtime stories.) Ohora’s quirky and colorful illustrations are a perfect match for the text, which gets increasingly giggle-inducing and appropriately gross as the persistent young girl pulls out all the stops to send her monster to sleep.

  • Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody

    by Michael Rex

    For readers ready to graduate from the dulcet tones of Goodnight Moon and add a little monstrosity to the mix, this side-splitting parody is a must-have. As a werewolf settles in for a slumber in his cold gray tomb with a black lagoon, the mischievous Goon waits for just the right moment to stir up mayhem, with the help of ghosts and witches and Frankenstein, too. Your whole family will love wrapping up the ghoulish retelling with a hearty “goodnight monsters everywhere.”

  • The Gruffalo

    by Julia Donaldson

    No monster-themed reading list would be complete without Julia Donaldson’s much-loved story (which inspired a star-studded companion film). An enterprising mouse on a stroll through the woods spins stories of a terrible creature called a Gruffalo, in order to ward off hungry mouths who might like a mousy snack. But the mouse is in for a surprise when he meets a real-life Gruffalo! Catchy, rhyming text and the opportunity for several voices — let’s not forget the titular monster — make this one a kid-favorite.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2018 and updated in 2019.