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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Scary Stories, #1)
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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

(Scary Stories #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  58,632 ratings  ·  3,012 reviews
This spooky addition to Alvin Schwartz's popular books on American folklore is filled with tales of eerie horror and dark revenge that will make you jump with fright.

There is a story here for everyone—skeletons with torn and tangled flesh who roam the earth; a ghost who takes revenge on her murderer; and a haunted house where every night a bloody head falls down the chimne
Paperback, 111 pages
Published October 1st 1989 by Scholastic, Inc. (first published October 14th 1981)
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Sophie I would call the stories more disturbing than scary.
Casey The book was written by folklorist Alvin Schwartz. Depending on the addition you read the art is either Stephen Gammell (the original creepy art) or t…moreThe book was written by folklorist Alvin Schwartz. Depending on the addition you read the art is either Stephen Gammell (the original creepy art) or the 2010 re-release with artist Brett Helquist.(less)

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Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  58,632 ratings  ·  3,012 reviews

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Start your review of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Scary Stories, #1)

I'm not giving any stars here, only a warning: beware which edition of this collection you choose, for if you choose unwisely, you will be sorely ripped off in more ways than one.

I chose unwisely. My edition is the 2010 "updated" version published by Harper Collins with new illustrations by Brett Helquist. To say that it's been sanitized for safe consumption is an understatement. The reason the original 1981 edition became an instant classic and a frequently challenged book in schools and libra
Federico DN
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
Sometimes you are about to watch a movie when you suddenly realize it is based on a book. Sometimes you choose to care.

A collection of short horror stories to scare you senseless, and some to make you laugh. Each story two pages at most and some eerie pictures accompanying each one.

The book started nicely. "The big toe" and "The walk", the first two, were very simple and highly enjoyable, two stories to make you jump scare. "Cold as clay" and "The girl who stood on a grave" were also good.

Justin Tate
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In anticipation of the new movie, I dusted this off and made the foolish decision of reading in an empty house, well past the twilight hour. About halfway I got too creeped out to continue. Had to finish the rest this morning.

These stories are SCARY. Something about the nonchalant way horror happens makes it even more real. In this world, there's nothing unusual about ghosts and murderers and zombies. Why should there be? They are so common. There could be a murderer in your attic right now. And
Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
Warning: SCARY PICTURES. Do not click on this review if you don't want to be plagued by nightmares. I don't care how old you are. Fear transcends all age barriers.

I'm a supporter of childhood literacy, but I beg you. Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not make the mistake of giving this book to your children. They will never forgive you. Think of all the therapy costs.

When I was a little girl, I was terrified of the dark. I couldn't sleep without my rituals. All blankets had to be tuck
JV (semi-hiatus)
Perhaps read and highly rated for its nostalgic appeal, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a collection of American urban legends that feel lacklustre in its writing and storytelling. Although quite unnerving not thoroughly petrifying, these stories somehow left me feeling cold whilst speedreading this in the dead of night. The only notable story that I find disquieting and chilling was "May I Carry Your Basket?".

The caveat? Well, you wouldn't want to reach for this book if you'd like to slee
May 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The illustrations were the really scary part of these books. I remember being afraid to turn the page and look at the next one when I was a kid, peeling the next page over gradually like a Band-Aid. One pictured effed me up so badly I had to tape a piece of construction paper over it so I could flip through the book without having a heart attack.
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is featured on Halloween Reads for Children @

This is a great collection of short scary stories for kids to enjoy. It’s a book that I enjoyed as a child and can now share with my own kids. Some of the stories are pretty scary and best for older readers, but a few of them can be read to younger readers as well. There are plenty of traditional ghost stories, retellings and folklore to enjoy. The black and white illustrations add even more eeriness!
Tina Haigler
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, kids, classics
This is a very beloved book from my childhood, along with it's two sequels. I'm still not entirely sure why I love something so much that gave me several serious complexes that continue into adulthood, but I guess I'm just twisted like that.

I chose to reread these books due to the Scary Stories movie that came out recently. Needless to say the stories didn't scare me like they did when I was a kid, but I still found that I was a little creeped out going to the bathroom in the dark, so to me that
J. Kent Messum
Confession time: I was a scared kid growing up. And I mean fucking terrified. My imagination was fertile, and it tended to grow dark twisted things with thorns that were poisonous to my thoughts, vines of blackened fish-hooks that would creep over me like ivy and ensnare my mind, body, and soul.

My early encounters with anything of the 'horror' variety would take on a life of it's own, finding a nest in my kid brain where it could grow into something much more monstrous. Thinking back to my chil
As scary stories go, they are only slightly. Sometimes they are funny, or just weird, or sad. Except the one about Harold the Scarecrow. God, that one is terrifying. Oh and the spiders hatching from your face.

But the illustrations... The illustrations in this book are good old-fashioned nightmare fuel. I really don't know what they were thinking.

I mean, what were they thinking?

Facebook 30 Day Book Challenge Day 8: Book that scares you.
Amalia Gkavea
This is a wonderful little collection of stories that are chilling and, at times, rather funny. A blend of urban legends and folk tales of ghosts and other creatures of the night and a series of sketches that are as ''scary'' as the stories they accompany create a result that is perfect for Halloween, for a cold winter's night or a stormy summer evening. ...more
Johann (jobis89)
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"In the dark and the gloom, it is easy for someone listening to imagine all sorts of strange and scary things."

A collection of stories based on American folklore written with the intention of giving you the creeps or making you jump with fright. The stories are accompanied by delightfully disturbing illustrations provided by Stephen Gammell.

Anytime I post these books on instagram, people lose their shit. It seems that everyone overseas (and by overseas I mean America or Canada) can attribute all
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I haven't read these in about 15 years, but I'm re-reading them before I see the movie :) ...more
Helen Power
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved these stories as a kid! Still just as spooky as an adult.
Oct 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book, 2019
This was fun! Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was very nostalgic.

When I was around 13-years-old, I would sit around in a circle with my friends, the lights were off and one of us had a flashlight under our face. We would tell scary stories and try to be the best at getting the most screams. Brings back great memories, lots of laughs and plenty of SCREAMS!

This would be a fun and spooky book to read to your kids around this time of the year. It's not scary but spooky enough to get them to jump a
Oct 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Scary Stories!!


I have always loved reading banned books because even though I am usually curious about the reasons why they were banned in the first place, it just makes me really want to read the books even more! Well, I just picked up this spooky book for children called “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” by Alvin Schwartz along with illustrations by Stephen Gammell and it basically has several horror folktales collected over the years. “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is definitel
¸¸.•*¨*•♫ Mrs. Buttercup •*¨*•♫♪
From its nose down to its chin
The worms crawled out, and the worms crawled in.
O-o o-o o-o!
The woman to the preacher said,
“Shall I look like that when I am dead?"
O-o o-o o-o!
The preacher to the woman said,
"You'll look like that when you are dead!"

One summer evening, when I was a kid, I went to a sleep-over at a friend's house. At some point one of the girls suggested that we start telling scary stories. I wasn't very enthusiastic about it (I was very well conscious of being a chicken), bu
Maliha Tabassum Tisha
This is a very short horror anthology. It took me about half an hour which I think is great since I had to struggle so much with my last read. The stories are basically folklores and urban legends that have been passed around for ages, which is why you might feel like you've heard (some of) them before - at least I did.

The book is divided into five chapters, each comprising a handful of these stories with a common theme. There are also some notes about the origin or source of the stories at the
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
Those fast paced stories with their great illustrations really got me hooked (one story is even titled the Hook!). The narration is simple, there is always a fine twist and a chilling climax takes your breath away. Slowly, step-step-step closer the tension rises and with it the eeriness. The stories cold as clay eat your eyes and eat your nose. The songs mentioned here are scary too (e.g. The Hearse song). Meet The Girl Who Stood on a Grave, learn to avoid elevators, even if there is Room for so ...more
Ashley Daviau
Oct 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now I am most definitely NOT the target audience for these stories but I enjoyed the hell out of this collection nonetheless and I’m very much looking forward to the next two collections as well. You see, these little short stories were my introduction into horror when I was a young kid and reading them again just brings back so many memories and makes me thankful that I had these to open the doors of horror for me. Sure some of the stories seem a little silly now that I’m nearly 30 and reading ...more
Emm - "That Book You Like is Coming Back in Style"
Mar 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: casual cannibals, wandering witches and ghoulish gravekeepers
This review and other monstrosities on Blood Red Velvet.

Room for one more? In the most twisted children's series to be splattered on paper? Oh, always.
I mean, how much can you really trust a kids book whose very first story is about cannibalism?
A boy finds a human toe in the garden, brings it to his mother, and what does she say?
"It looks nice and plump. I'll put it in the soup, and we'll have it for supper."

Brilliant. Needless to say, the undead corpse is more than disturbed that his big toe we
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Is everybody having an especially lovely day? Tucking in for a blissful night's sleep? Good, I have something to show you.

I read this on my kindle late at night under the covers with nothing but the illumination of my phone screen to light the words. Can you imagine my shock at the following appearing out of nowhere after the flick of the side-button?

I don't have much to say about this collection other than I might be a little bit in love with Schwartz for putting together such a horri
My oldest son had a favorite three book set as a child. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. The tales were spooky and the artwork was amazing. In fact, the bizarre art really made the book. Flash forward a few years and my son was getting ready to join the Navy. I hit that oh-my-god-one-of-my-kids-is-really-leaving mom moment and the oh-my-god-my-son-is-engaged-to-be-married event as well.....ahhhhhhhhhh! But, before he left to start his journey to being a grown man, he brought me a set of three ...more
Amber J
I try to express only my most honest opinion in a spoiler free way. If you feel anything in my review is a spoiler and is not already hidden in spoiler brackets please let me know. Thank you.

Cute book. It was a great book collection of scary stories for kids. I could see this as a great idea for a Halloween kids party, or around a campfire at night. Might even try something like that for my daughter and her friends now that they are getting around the age to enjoy it.

How I choose my rating:

just as creepy as when i was little and trying to muster the courage to turn the pages. this artwork remains terrifying (especially the murdered woman ghost who comes out of the basement. i can't keep that page open!) and i've since read so much folklore i started to recognize some of the origin stories! ("cold as clay" is almost exactly the same as the Holland Handkerchief folk song...) ...more
Carrie (brightbeautifulthings)
When I was a kid, my older sister covered my window with a blanket and invaded the fort I had under my bed to scare the ever-loving shit out of me by reading stories from this book, and that’s the primary reason I haven’t read it until now. A peek at the table of contents shows it was actually More Scary Stories, since one of those tales in particular has lived on in my memory in vivid technicolor which, right there, shows the power and longevity of this collection. While its sway over adults is ...more
May 11, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
This book is aimed for children
A gateway to horror and scary stories
Easy read
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the book of nightmares. I will never re-read it as it both scared and scarred me even when I was a child with no sense of my own mortality. If I even attempted it now...


Speaking of nightmares. Here, have some.

(view spoiler)
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Reading All Hallow's Eve made me nostalgic for my introduction to horror. My second grade teacher read us this book through the month of October, one story a day. And I've been trying to scare myself ever since.

So, how does the original hold up, read after more time has passed than I'm willing to admit, and more horror books and movies than I can count? Amazingly well. These are basically campfire stories, of course, but campfire stories need to be scary to work. They are, in many respects, prim
Oct 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
When I was a 5th grader this book anthology was one of my favorites. While not all the stories are great as an adult read some are still pretty good. My picks are The Guests, Room For One More, The White Satin Evening Gown, & Wait Till Martin Comes. I still love this book & suggest you guys give it a reread.
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Alvin Schwartz was the author of more than fifty books dedicated to and dealing with topics such as folklore and word play, many of which were intended for young readers. He is often confused with another Alvin Schwartz, who wrote Superman and Batman daily comics strips and a novel titled The Blowtop.

Other books in the series

Scary Stories (3 books)
  • More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Scary Stories, #2)
  • More Tales to Chill Your Bones (Scary Stories #3)

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These twelve books are so consistently adored, they have become regulars month after month in our data of most popular and most read books on...
125 likes · 46 comments
“The Hearse Song

Don't you ever laugh as the hearse goes by,
For you may be the next to die.
They wrap you up in a big white sheet
From your head down to your feet.
They put you in a big black box
And cover you up with dirt and rocks.
All goes well for about a week,
Then your coffin begins to leak.
The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out,
The worms play pinochle on your snout.
They eat your eyes, they eat your nose,
They eat the jelly between your toes.
A big green worm with rolling eyes
Crawls in your stomach and out your eyes.
Your stomach turns a slimy green,
And pus pours out like whipping cream.
You spread it on a slice of bread,
And that's what you eat when you're dead.”
“Telling scary stories is something people have done for thousands of years, for most of us like being scared in that way. Since there isn't any danger, we think it is fun.” 2 likes
More quotes…