Feast on this list of the best zombie books, games, and toys for kids!
Zombies have come a long way. The monsters were popularized in the U.S. from misunderstandings of Haitian cultural practices, as seen in movies such as White Zombie and I Walked With a Zombie. These types of zombies were either hypnotized humans or animated corpses, who didn’t do anything other than shamble around. But in 1968, George Romero made Night of the Living Dead, which reimagined zombies as flesh-eating ghouls. Later movies added the idea that zombies eat brains and even can make plans in their quest to consume every single human.
Somewhere along the way, zombies became popular among kids.
It’s hard to pin down when and how zombies went from brain-devouring horror movie standards to cute mascots in kid’s games. But whatever did it, the fact remains: kids love zombies. They don’t find them scary, they aren’t grossed out by them, and they certainly don’t believe they’re real. Instead, kids want to see zombies in their games and toys and even their clothes. You can even make a whole kid’s bedroom based on zombies, as we showed you earlier in our list of the best Zombie-Themed Bedroom Ideas and Decor For Kids.
Of course, zombies don’t adhere to a single model or backstory. In items designed for young children, zombies tend to be mindless buffoons who stumble around doing things that every human does, only dumber. For young teens, zombies are gooey and slimy, with exposed bones dangling from their shoulders and brains dribbling from their mouths. And for older teens, zombies are a genuine threat, monsters in movies and books to provide a thrill.
That’s a lot of information to parse and responsible parents don’t want to get it wrong. After all, your 16-year-old will be bored by a Minecraft Creeper doll and your six-year-old will be traumatized by Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Fortunately, we at Nerdy with Children are here to help. We’ve not only found some of the best zombie books, games, and toys, but we’re organizing them around the appropriate age.
Have your little zombies shamble over and take a big bite out of our picks!
Zombie Books for Kids 📗
Ages 0 – 5
One of the things about zombies that interests kids the most is their goofy design. Zombies can be endlessly silly-looking characters, not only because of their dazed expressions and strange colors but because of the way they integrate everyday objects. You don’t have to look far to find a zombie football player with a comically mangled mask or a zombie teacher clutching its chalk.
Author and illustrator Laura Coleman puts that aspect to good use in her seek and find book Oh No! The Zombies Have Escaped. Coleman fills every page with not only deeply silly-looking zombies but regular people doing equally goofy things.
The fun designs and engaging puzzles will keep your youngest children interested for hours without keeping them up at night with nightmares.
Ages 5 – 10
At one time or another, every kid feels like a monster. So universal is that theme that it drives one of the all-time greatest children’s books, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
In their illustrated book, authors Jorge Lacera and Megan Lacera twist that premise by introducing kids to Mo Romero, a zombie who loves vegetables. But his passion for tomatoes and peppers disturbs his parents, who worry that Mo won’t grow up to be a healthy and happy zombie. The story follows Mo’s adventures as he tries to convince his parents to try the food he loves.
This zippy story of acceptance has charmed not only kids and parents, but also numerous award committees. Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies has won recognition from many outlets, including NPR, Kirkus Reviews, and the Tejas Star.
Ages 11 – 15
Although you can tell lots of stories about zombies, the fact of the matter is that they are monsters. For that reason, zombies make for excellent antagonists in kids’ adventure stories. For the past few years, one of the most popular kid’s adventure series are the Last Kids on Earth books, from Max Brallier and Douglas Holgate.
The books follow a series of young teens who survived a monster attack that destroyed their town. With everyone else transformed into zombies, abandoned foster child Jack Sullivan mast gather together a group of other kids to rescue their missing schoolmates. Mixing relatable heroes with genuinely scary (but age-appropriate) moments, The Last Kids on Earth gives children relatable and enjoyable thrills. And there’s more than just books, there’s also an excellent Netflix series and an awesome co-op video game!
Ages 16 – Up
Written by Max Brooks, son of comedy legend Mel Brooks, World War Z is considered one of the greatest zombie books of the past 20 years. Set in the wake of a zombie apocalypse, World War Z consists of snippets from various sources, including medical reports, news broadcasts, and journals to give a broad perspective of life in which zombies are a reality.
Although there are certainly moments of horror and humor, World War Z isn’t exactly a fun read. Brooks maintains a bleak tone throughout, as its characters try to make sense of a world that’s been radically changed.
That tone may be harsh for some teens. But others will appreciate not only the seriousness with which Brooks approaches such an outlandish concept but also the book’s examination of social structure. Despite its over-the-top plot, World War Z trains readers to be strong critical thinkers by forcing them to examine assumptions about everyday life.
Zombie Games for Kids 🎮
Ages 0 – 5
As much as little kids find zombies cute and silly, the fact remains that zombies are monsters and monsters might be scary. While we parents will certainly need to shelter our children from some scary experiences, we also want to teach our kids to be brave, to remind them that they can overcome the things that scare them.
One of the most simple ways to overcome zombies is to simply bonk them on the head. That’s the concept of this Jumpit Zombie War game, which follows the structure of Whack-a-Mole, replacing the subterranean rodents with brain-eating ghouls. Although kids might get frightened when a zombie jumps out, they’ll see again and again that they can chase them away with a quick bonk on the head.
Ages 5 – 10
Some kids love zombies because they’re gross. As shambling corpses, zombies are given to losing limbs and exposing their guts. That gooey quality can lead to lots of queasy fun for children.
The Zombie Gotcha game from Mattel capitalizes on that nastiness. At its core, Zombie Gotcha is a simple card drawing game, in which players perform actions depending on the cards they draw from a pile. But the pile sits inside a plastic zombie hand, which can close at any time on unsuspecting players, combining fun jump scares and an icky design for lots of zombie excitement.
Ages 11 – 15
One of the other sources of the zombie craze is the tv series The Walking Dead, based on the series from Image Comics. The Walking Dead has run for over a decade, inspiring both a spin-off series Fear the Walking Dead and an excellent video game series from Telltale Games.
More of an interactive story than an action-based game, The Walking Dead game follows a series of characters living in the world of the comics and the shows. Although some characters from those media properties do make appearances in the game, the story focuses on new characters to tell an exciting new tale. And what a tale it is!
With intuitive mechanics and a plot that forces players to make difficult decisions, which can dramatically alter the path of the story and affect the ending (bonus points for replayability), The Walking Dead by Telltale Games is thought-provoking, tension-filled entertainment!
Zombie Toys for Kids 🧸
Ages 0 – 5
Very young children have pretty simple tastes in toys. They like things that are silly, they like things that are soft, and they like things that look big. Even though it features an enemy monster from the hit video game Plants vs. Zombies—Gargantuar, the Muscle Zombie, and his little pal Imp—this plush toy checks every one of those boxes.
A fluffy bruiser filled with cotton, this cute, muscley zombie makes a scary monster into something huggable and lovable.
Ages 5 – 10
The Nerf Zombie Strike line from the established dart gun company doesn’t come with any zombies, because it trusts that kids can imagine the monsters themselves. Instead, the toys come with stylized versions of classic Nerf guns.
The Ripchain blaster comes with a plastic chain that holds 25 darts, allowing the user to fire them off in succession at imaginary zombie hordes. With darts designed for unparalleled distance, kids can make any room (or backyard) into a post-apocalyptic danger zone. And with their soft and safe design, parents don’t need to worry that playtime will result in broken furniture or serious injuries.
With scenarios and zombie-themed targets, the Nerf Zombie Ripchain Combat Blaster is the perfect toy for kids to practice overcoming their fears.
Ages 11 – 15
As we’ve already seen, Minecraft is one of kid’s first introductions to zombies. But the zombies in the game are just part of the game’s construction-focused design, which encourages children to use their imagination to make exciting play spaces in a digital world.
This Lego set brings the fun of Minecraft into the real world. At 248-pieces, this set includes not only blocks inspired by the video game, but also two minifigs. One figure is in the shape of Steve, the male player character to the game, and the other is, of course, one of the game’s classic zombies.
In the tradition of all Lego sets, this Abandoned Mine kit allows kids to either create the location from the game, as described in the instructions, or they can make their own design. With this set, zombies become part of your child’s imagination, another object with which they can tell their own stories.
Ages 16 – Up
Although they didn’t make their debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe until the release of the Disney+ series What If…, Marvel Comic books are filled with the Marvel Zombies. The Marvel Zombies series takes place in a world in which all of your favorite superheroes, including Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Iron Man, have fallen victim to a zombie plague. Struggling against their hunger for flesh, the Marvel Zombies search for a cure, in the hopes of returning to their heroic ways.
Unsurprisingly, these lesser-known characters have all been immortalized as Funko Pop! figures. The incredibly popular toy line features cute, large-headed versions of characters from every part of pop culture. You can get Pop! figures of nearly every zombified Marvel character, including everyone’s favorite diminutive villain M.O.D.O.K., or Spider-Man baddie Mysterio.