Scary Stories To Tell In the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark---Seriously, what kid could resist this?

Even though the books and illustrations of Edward Gorey are wonderfully creepy, when I was kid, I’d never been exposed to his work.  One of my first exposures to the wonderful genre that his folklore/urban legends/horror (besides my mother) was this series–Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark by Alvin Schwartz.  The series is basically thin books each with some creepy tales based on folklore and urban legends.  Anyone who knows me, knows I love love love urban legends like I love breathing, and this is the series that introduced me to them.  The books are mostly black and white, the tales themselves, pretty creepy, especially when you’re a 8 year old kid reading at night by the light coming from the bathroom (it was the only way I could read at night, considering I shared a room with 2 sisters.  Anyhoo, those little tales were made even creepier with Stephen Gammell’s illustrations…pure genius!  I’m pretty sure I even had a few nightmares that my kid psyche forced me to repress…that’s how good they were, and still are.  I highly recommend traumatizing your tykes–buy them these(who are we kidding, buy them for yourself)–they will love them!  In all seriousness though, this set is one of the most challenged books according to the American Library Association because of their violence (hey I turned out alright).  Keep in mind though, that The Harry Potter Series and books like A Wrinkle In Time are on that list of challenged books too.



Srsly? Who let me check these books out?

Remember:  buy your kid the books, don’t let them read till bedtime, tell them they can’t read because they have to go to sleep, but leave a flashlight conveniently on their little nightstand, then let the the fun begin.  Be prepared to have an impromptu sleepover though, or, as in my particular case, be prepared to have an insomniac pre-teen (be kind, buy the kid a nightlight).

Nightmare inducing? I think so.

There are some great stories that I think most of us would recognize, like the oft-told around campfire tale of THE GOLDEN ARM, and the one about the girl with the beehive in which a spider laid its eggs, and the bride that was never found after a game of hide and seek….good stuff.  


It’s when I recall books like this, I can’t wait to have a little girl to scare the bejeezus out of her.


Seriously, it’s Halloween time…the series is perfect.  Check out some of the stories on youtube.  There are quite a few posted on there.


8 thoughts on “Scary Stories To Tell In the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

  1. I have memories of always seeing these books at book fairs at my elementary school, and feeling so grown up for reading them. It’s funny now to see your nieces and nephews reading them as well.For some reason I always remember the story about the spider eggs. Uck.

  2. I have two little girls, and I do laugh when my oldest freaks herself out. The younger one says, “I’m not scared of Halloween. I want to be a ghost.” And the younger one acts like A zombie chasing her sister and says, “I want to eat your brains!” I sense some awesome funny times in my future with my thrill seeker and my scared cat.

  3. My sister and I use to read these books to each other. We would always go around singing The Hearse Song. Pretty creepy stuff now that i completely understand what the poem is talking about. We loved the books, we still love paranormal things. The books are what started us on it.

    • I remember when I discovered this series in my elementary school library. I was fascinated. I loved them. They creeped me out, and I proceeded to creep out my younger siblings with them. This is probably what got me started with my love of urban legends, folk tales, fairy tales, and ultimately all things horror. The one that creeped me out the most (for some reason) is A Man Who Lived In Leeds, I think because I didn’t understand it, and couldn’t decipher it’s meaning. Thanks for the comment!

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