Sleeping in the Dark or with the Lights on? A Parents’ Guide. Part 2

In Part 1 of our guide, we discussed how many kids are afraid of sleeping in the dark. Whether they’re imagining the bogeyman under the bed, scared of being alone, or worried about nightmares, the ‘unknown’ created when the lights go out can be seriously unnerving. (Even as adults, we can still be caught out sometimes by an ominous shadow on the wall!)

So, what can you do? Turn to the written word, of course! In Part 2 of our parents’ guide, we’ve collected the best books about being scared of the dark that might help your little one with their fear (plus a few answers to your FAQs about nyctophobia).

Read on for our top recommendations of soothing stories to make bedtime a better time!

Top 5 Books to Help with a Fear of the Dark

Research shows that bibliotherapy (a type of therapy that involves reading books and other written materials for guidance and support) can help alleviate children’s nighttime fears and anxiety.

There are lots of books that tackle being afraid of the dark that you can try reading to your little one when they’re snuggled up in their kid’s bed before you turn out the lights. Here are some of our favourites:

1. The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark

Author: Jill Tomlinson
Recommended age: 3 – 7 years

This classic story is about Plop, the baby barn owl who is afraid of the dark, but gradually finds courage as he meets several people and discovers some of the great things about it – including fireworks, stars, and Father Christmas. The book uses gentle humour, heartwarming scenes and beautiful illustrations to help young children face their fear.

It even comes recommended by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, who read the book on the BBC’s CBeebies Bedtime Story in 2022, saying, ‘I’ve chosen a story which I remember reading as a little girl’ and describing it as an ‘encouraging tale’. If it’s good enough for the future queen, it’s good enough for us!

HRH on CBeebies 650
Image credit: BBC

2. Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear?

Author: Martin Waddell
Recommended age: 1 – 4 years

This reassuring picture book about a little bear who can’t sleep is ideal for toddlers. Big Bear remains endlessly patient with Little Bear, bringing bigger lanterns into Bear Cave, showing him the moon and stars, and, finally, allowing him to fall asleep in his arms – making this a ‘beary’ comforting tale for younger children.

3. Orion and the Dark

Author: Emma Yarlett
Recommended age: 1 – 5 years

Orion and the Dark follows a boy called Orion who is afraid of many things – but nothing more so than the dark. Then, he’s visited by a lovable creature called Dark, who shows him there might not be as much to worry about as he thought.

If this Amazon review is anything to go by, this story might help an anxious child: ‘My 4 year old daughter has actually conquered her fear of the dark after reading this book!’

4. The Moon Inside

Author: Sandra V. Feder
Recommended age: 2 – 5 years

This sweet story is about a girl who loves bright things and the colour yellow and is afraid of the dark. However, her mother encourages her to see the beautiful things about the night, including the moon, fireflies and crickets, until she realises it can be something peaceful to look forward to.

5. Afraid of the Light

Author: Albert Strasser
Recommended age: 4 – 7 years

Afraid of the Light follows a rabbit called Ditter Von Dapp, who is so light-phobic that he’s confined himself to a cosy dark cave – until a wise mouse steals his shoe, forcing him to light a candle, and embark on a slow journey of self-discovery.

By reversing the common fear of the dark to one of the light, Albert Strasser’s fun and quirky book gets children thinking about their fears. This is a rhythmic tale that will appeal to all ages, so it’s an ideal choice for siblings.

@raising_5 650
Image credit: @raising_5

Afraid of the Dark FAQs:

1. Are all kids scared of the dark?
Not all kids are afraid of the dark – but it is one of the most common fears of young children. One study found that 73.3% of children aged 4 – 12 years had some nighttime fears, with around 10% of those related to an anxiety disorder.

2. Can newborns be scared of the dark?
Babies are not born with a fear of the dark and typically do not have the developmental capability to feel that way. Being scared of the dark usually starts anytime from age 2 years onwards (we all know how much toddlers’ imaginations start to run wild at this age!)

3. How can you help children who are scared of the dark?
It’s important to talk to your child about their fears. Acknowledge their anxiety and be patient and reassuring. As well as reading to them, there are other practical things you can do, such as ensuring they have their favourite toy or leaving a night light on. Check out Part 1 of our guide for more tips.

4. What is the best nightlight for kids who are afraid of the dark?
We love this clever Bendy Bunky Light! It easily clips onto the edge of a bed frame and the cable is long enough to reach the top of a bunk bed. The yellow light setting is soothing and dimmable, so you can lower the light in your kid’s bedroom as they get used to sleeping in the dark, reducing the interference with their circadian rhythm.

5. What is the best bed for a kid who’s afraid of the dark?
If they’re old enough, we recommend involving your child in the process of choosing their new kid’s bed, so it’s somewhere they feel safe and comfortable.

Our Fraser Bookcase Bed comes with an included trundle drawer, so not only is there no space for a monster to hide underneath, but there’s also somewhere for you to lie next to them when they’re feeling scared and don’t want to be left alone.

The built-in shelf in the headboard means you can keep a night light nearby, along with their favourite soothing story books.

Fraser Single Bookcase Bed with Trundle

Ready to ‘Turn the Page’ on Nyctophobia?

These books might not be a magic ‘fix-all’, but there’s a good chance reading one or more of them to your little one might help them with their fear of the dark, and get you to the point of being able to turn the lights out at night. If not, you’ll still have a great story to enjoy together at bedtime!

If you have any questions about our kid’s furniture, contact our kid’s bed experts at

Leave a Reply