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5 Roald Dahl Books Every Kid Should Read — And 4 They Definitely Shouldn’t

The good, the bad, and the terrible of one of children literature's most controversial authors

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photo collage of Roald Dahl books for kids -- both the ones to seek out and the ones to avoid

Children’s book author Roald Dahl used to wake his kids up in the middle of the night, bundle them into a cookies-and-cocoa-packed car, then drive them to the woods to look for badgers. It’s a crazy thing for a parent to do, but makes total sense when you think about the kind of man who would write some of the most beloved children’s literature of all time. There’s just no one better than Roald Dahl– or so I thought.

Turns out, Dahl’s stories are packed with cruelty, racism, and misogyny. He’s written some adult works in between his children’s books that are total NSFW headscratchers (read on if you dare!) And there’s plenty of evidence that he was actually a total weirdo in real life. It’s time we rethink our unconditional love of Dahl, and approach his work with all the caution of an Oompa Loompa who’s seen one too many children disappear inside Wonka’s factory.

So here are the best of Roald Dahl, the stories infused with mystery, imagination, magic, and none of his BS. But keep your eyes peeled: we’ve also rounded up the worst of the worst, the WTF-were-you-thinking Roald Dahl books that you should definitely avoid showing to your kids at all costs.

Best: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 1964

Worst: Revolting Rhymes, 1982

Best: Matilda, 1988

Worst: The Minpins, 1991

Best: Fantastic Mr. Fox, 1970

Worst: Switch Bitch, 1974

Best: The BFG, 1982

Worst: The Twits, 1979

Best: James and the Giant Peach, 1983

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