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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)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  41,317 Ratings  ·  1,601 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 chi
Paperback, 112 pages
Published October 1st 1989 by Scholastic, Inc. (first published October 14th 1981)
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Air It is in most libraries, online libraries, and book stores now. If you take the ISBN from the Goodreads page, you can find it on Amazon, too.
Air It is in most libraries, online libraries, and book stores now. If you take the ISBN from the Goodreads page, you can find it on Amazon, too.

Community Reviews

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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
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.
Khanh (the meanie)
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
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!
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 Gavea
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.
Josu Lorenzo Grilli
No sabía qué esperarme de este libro y me ha sorprendido para bien.

Historias de miedo para contar en la oscuridad es un libro que une muchos relatos basados o adaptados del folclore de distintas partes de Estados Unidos, Reino Unido, etc. Hay dos partes diferenciadas: la de las historias en sí -la más larga tiene 4 páginas- y la de la explicación de las historias.

Creo que la más interesante es sin duda en la que el autor explica todo lo que hay detrás de esos cuentos. De dónde han salido, cuándo
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 definitely
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 horrificall
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
Nathaniel Brehmer
Mar 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Timeless stories adapted in an ageless manner, mixed with some of the most phenomenally horrific illustrations ever. These elements make Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark (and its sequels) the best horror stories ever catered to children. All the stories were well researched and no more watered down than they had to be to find their audience. All the grotesque and grossly horrific tales that once I read as a child, I never forgot. Whether they generated an eerie chill or an uneasy laugh, they ar ...more
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)
Jun 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror, short-stories
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing

5 stars for pure nostalgia and the gorgeous, terrifying, nightmare-inducing illustrations. As far as the collection of stories? Eh, they're actually quite tame (after all, this is a child's book). Many of the tales are actually very silly, some intentionally so. As an adult, none of them are frightening, but then there goes my sense of childhood wonder I suppose. I am so happy to gradually be collecting the old Scary Stories anthologies, as (as far as my knowledge goes) the older editions wit
Hafsa Sabira
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
The stories are not exactly how I thought they will be. But they are exactly like the title refers to. These are stories that one can tell in the dark and can scream,moan,jump- basically can do whatever he wants to scare his friends. And I actually succeeded in scaring my next door neighbour kid :p

But still,the stories are too small and not scary at all unless you act your part in the ending. Did I like the book? No. Will I read the next book in this series? No. So,there goes my 2 stars.
First, I got all fired up about these stories after reading Monster Chefs, which was the complete opposite of Scary Stories, and then, I got all snarky on some poor guy I don't even know's review and that's when I realized, "Man, I am so glad I own two of these books and now I must scour used book stores for the third!" and THEN I thought, "Wait-oh! I'll bet I can find this being read online somewhere! Because we, the library, read books for kids all the time and post said readings online so it ...more
Mia (Parentheses Enthusiast)
This book scared the shit out of me as a kid. I haven't even been able to muster up the courage necessary to read it again because I have such terrifying memories of the artwork.
Rebecca McNutt
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
I loved all the traditional horror stories in this book, but it was also the illustrations that accented each story, they're really creepy and incredibly detailed!
Jackie "the Librarian"
Sep 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: kids going to a sleepover
The best collection of stories to tell at a slumber party, ever! A great mix of scary tales and funny ones. Kids especially love the creepy illustrations by Stephen Gammell. Love them, and are freaked out by them, too.

Interesting fact: This book is frequently stolen from libraries.
Dec 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who enjoy a dose of fear now and again
Warning: Proceed with caution!!

Oh bejesus, what was I thinking reading this at night?

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is not for the faint of heart. As the name suggests, you’ll find a collection of scary stories here that are perfect to tell around campfires, or at slumber parties, or if you’re like me, they’re perfect reading material at night with the lights turned off. If you do opt for the third option, I’d suggest you prepare for a rather sleepless night!

In terms of the stories themsel
Jennifer Svogar
Apr 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those looking to recapture their childhood
My father was a huge fan of all things "scary" when I was a child. My brothers and I grew up reading this and other collections, not to mention the classics of Frankenstein, Dracula, and other horrors. It was surprising to me when my younger brother mentioned missing this book, because I had been feeling the same way! Nostalgia takes over sometimes....

I found another copy recently, and got to read it once more. It took a little while for me to recapture that same fear I felt when I read the book
Dec 05, 2008 rated it liked it
I have a feeling that I'm not the only one that added this to my goodreads many years after having read the book. Should we be doing that? Do we really remember how we felt, and even the essentials of what happeend, from books we read in our childhood? I'm guilty of making the attempt here, and while I recall enjoying these stories, and even becoming slightly frightened by a few of them, I never thought of this as a favorite book, or became particuarly excited when the second set of Scary Storie ...more
Alvin Schwartz did a great job collecting, selecting and retelling many of the best-known folk tales, songs and urban legends in a way that's fun and scary for kids.

Stephen Gammell's illustrations, however, are the real treasure here. They're surreal and terrifying without being overly violent or gory. They're perfect companions to the tales. I know a new edition has comes out with new illustrations. I can only imagine this has been done because Gammell's illustrations frequently land this book
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This series was legit back in the day!

These aren't mere scary stories; they're enhanced with cultural folklore and beautifully creepy illustrations.

These books were probably what initially sparked my interest in the horror genre. As a little elementary schooler, I would check out these books from the school library and run to the bus so I could get home and read them, eyes wide with curiosity (and probably a bit of terror). Some of these stories have stuck with me and I still remember them eve
ღ Carol jinx~☆~
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Fun and scary stories for kids to share in the dark.
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reseña completa:

En "Historias de terror para contar en la oscuridad" podemos encontrar una recopilación de relatos de miedo catalogadas en diferentes categorías, encontraremos fantasmas vengativos, asesinos, brujas o canciones populares de lo más macabras, entre muchas otras cosas. Alvin Schwartz ha adaptado y juntado en este primer volumen (pues van a ser dos más) leyendas urbanas y folclore americano y anglosajón para deleite de los amantes del género y
Stefan Yates
Feb 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: awol, kids-room
I purchased this book as one that I fondly remembered from childhood. I don't know for certain how many times my brother and I checked this out from the public library, but it was a lot. The stories in it are fun and the artwork is fantastic. As a matter of fact, even though I remember most of the stories from reading them before, it's the artwork that lodged this book into my head so firmly. Although all black and white, the images are spooky and gruesome. Exactly what an impressionable pre-tee ...more
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
I got a chill just remembering how much these books managed to frighten me as a child. It was largely (I'd say 90%-95%) about the illustrations. Even some of the stories that weren't scary to me in themselves at all left extremely eerie, surreal, terrifying imaginings crawling 'round my mind through the strong influence of the accompanying images. I read all three of these books a lot as a child. Loved to be terrified I guess. Terror really is the wrong word. Basking in strangeness...eeriness... ...more
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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.
More about Alvin Schwartz...

Other Books in the Series

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