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Terrifying Children’s Books

Struwwelpeter by Heinrich Hoffman (1844)

Der Struwwelpeter

Struwwelpeter, or Shock-headed Peter was written by a psychiatrist named Heinrich Hoffman for his three-year-old son when Hoffman decided that most of the books available for that age range were too sentimental. The book comprises ten illustrated and rhymed stories, mostly about children. Each has a clear moral that demonstrates the disastrous consequences of misbehavior in an dreadful way. Here are some great examples:

Die Geschichte vom Daumenlutscher” (The Story of the Thumb-Sucker)

A mother warns her son not to suck his thumbs. However, when she goes out of the house he resumes his thumb sucking, until a roving tailor appears and cuts off his thumbs with giant scissors.


Die gar traurige Geschichte mit dem Feuerzeug” (The Dreadful Story of the Matches)

A girl plays with matches and burns to death.


Die Geschichte vom Suppen-Kaspar” (The Story of the Soup-Kaspar)

The story begins as Kaspar, a healthy, strong boy, proclaims that he will no longer eat his soup. Over the next five days he wastes away and dies.


Struwwelpeter has been translated into several languages and became popular among children throughout Europe.

1 Comment so far

  1. Pingback: Reimagining the Der Struwwelpeter | Dark Corner Books

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