The Dark

Written by Lemony Snicket
Illustrated by Jon Klassen
10 pages  •  Published 2013 (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Book cover
Recommended Age Range: Kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Publisher's Summary: Laszlo is afraid of the dark. The dark lives in the same house as Laszlo. Mostly, though, the dark stays in the basement and doesn’t come into Lazslo’s room. But one night, it does. This is the story of how Laszlo stops being afraid of the dark.
Book cover

Dr. Annie's Takeaways

Recommended for: This book helps a child to shift their relationship with the dark from foe to friend. It is best for a slightly older child who will tolerate or even enjoy the book’s creepiness (e.g., kids who like ghost stories) and who will understand the ending–it’s a bit subtle. It’s a great story.
Would a child like it? Many children, especially slightly older ones, will really enjoy this book. Any child who likes ghost stories and mild creepiness will love it. A child who isn’t into such things might find it too scary.
Evidence-Based Practices: Exposure
Tone: Eerie, thought-provoking
Story Quality: This book by Lemony Snicket (author of A Series of Unfortunate Events) is great children’s literature. It’s evocative, creepy, and ultimately triumphant and quite profound. Mr. Snicket is not afraid to scare children a bit, and in this book, it’s for a good cause. The plot is essentially that Laszlo’s nightlight burns out, and he needs to go into the basement to get a new bulb. It’s also about a boy’s fear of the dark and how confronting this fear makes him realize that the dark can also be friendly and helpful. One might even argue that this could be a metaphor about confronting our darker feelings, but even if we don’t go there, it’s a great book about the dark.
Illustrations: Minimalist drawings featuring the dark. The pictures are attractive and atmospheric.
Representation: Laszlo is a White boy who lives in a house with a basement. There are no other people in the story.
Psychological Practices: This book really walks the reader through an exposure to the dark. It’s initially creepy, and the reader has a fear of something bad happening. By the end of the story, the dark ends up being helpful and non-threatening. The dark is a character who speaks. For some children, this may be too scary. For others, though, it could be fun to think about what the dark might actually say.
Concerns: None

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