Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Terrify your kids with these shockingly harsh Cautionary Tales For Children

Photo: Manchester Daily Express/SSPL (Getty Images)

Lydia Margaret Sidwarth, a children’s librarian at the Platteville Public Library in Wisconsin, took to Twitter this weekend to share a frightening (and hilarious) volume filled with “cautionary tales for children” she discovered at an antique store.


Who knew that you could lose a fortune by throwing stones, or perish miserably after slamming doors for fun? One of Lydia’s savvy followers noted that the volume was written by Hillaire Belloc, and was likely a satire (in the vein of Edward Gorey). Still, Lydia notes that he doesn’t seem like the most fun guy.

Lest today’s kids think there’s nothing they can do to live a long and prosperous life, Belloc threw in at least one positive story: Charles Augustus Fortesque, “Who always Did what was Right, and so accumulated an Immense Fortune.” Words to live by. But the most curious tale may be that of Augustus, “Who played with a Loaded Gun, and, on missing his Sister, was reprimanded by his Father.” For missing his sister?

We have a few 21st-century cautionary tales to add for today’s kids, like “Ethan: Who watched so many hours on Tik Tok he flunked out of middle school”; “Maisie: Who ate so much Gogurt she lost all her teeth”; and “Jaime: Who spent too much time on Fortnite and permanently damaged both retinas.”


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About the author

Gwen Ihnat

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.