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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

4.2 57
by Alvin Schwartz, Brett Helquist (Illustrator)

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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


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 chimney. Stephen Gammell's splendidly creepy drawings perfectly capture the mood of more than two dozen scary stories — and even scary songs — all just right for reading alone or for telling aloud in the dark.

If You Dare!

Editorial Reviews

Horn Book Magazine
“This new edition is handsome and accessible; now young readers have a choice of how scared they want to be—just a little, or a whole lot. ”
New York Public Library
A fine collection of short tales to chill the bones of young and old with interesting notes for folktale buffs.
Children's Literature
Divided into five sections, this collection of American folklore has a little of everything—but not enough of anything. The opening chapter, "'jump stories' to make friends JUMP with fright," is varied but uninspired. In the opening tale, a big toe is discovered, brought home, cooked, and eaten. Are you entertained so far? The allegedly scary bit is when the storyteller accuses a listener of possessing said toe. The best offering is "A Man Who Lived in Leeds," a creepy, catchy rhyme of nonsense . . . or is it? The second section's theme is ghosts. The first selection involves two friends chased by a skeleton; a year later, one of the friends dies . . . and "looked just like the skeleton." The following story, "Cold as Clay," is a strong, spine-tingling one. The rest range from pointless to gruesome: "the flesh was dropping off her face . . . She had no eyeballs . . . and no nose." Chapter three is particularly rife with nightmarish, disturbing images. Chapter four consists of stories that "young people tell about dangers we face in our lives today." The only outstanding entry is "High Beams," in which a teenage girl is stalked by a car. It turns out that the bad guy is already in her car and the "stalker" was trying to warn her! The final chapter is devoted to tales meant to amuse rather than frighten. Only the first two succeed. The black-and-white illustrations by Caldecott winner Gammell are outstanding; next to them, the stories, not the readers, pale. A twenty-fifth anniversary edition. 2006 (orig. 1981), HarperCollins, and Ages 10 to 14.
—Naomi Milliner <%ISBN%>0397319266
Children's Literature - Elizabeth D. Schafer
Ghosts, monsters, and creepy creatures beckon for readers' attention and stretch their imaginations in this folklore collection that offers a satisfying smorgasbord of stories which will startle, repulse, and bemuse, causing people to squirm, with their spookiness and grotesqueness. Adapted from folktales, some which have been told and revised by generations of storytellers, stories contain familiar horror archetypes, particularly vanishing hitchhikers and hooks clinging to car doors. Illustrations capture ghastly imagery, complementing the text. The introduction emphasizes the importance of sharing eerie tales aloud, referring to advice in William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale how to lure listeners closer while telling frightening stories. The first chapter, "Aaaaaaaaaaah!," features six jump stories which incorporate sudden exclamatory endings intended to alarm people so much they physically react. "The Big Toe" and "What Do You Come For?" involve malevolent body parts. Ghosts haunt five tales in the second chapter, "He Heard Footsteps Coming up the Cellar Stairs..."Vengeance motivates "The White Wolf" ghost. Another ghost promises to reward a preacher who assures her murderer is punished in "The Haunted House." The third section, "They Eat Your Eyes, They Eat Your Nose," describes supernatural animals scaring people in "Alligators" and "A New Horse." Urban folklore inspires four cautionary stories in the fourth chapter, "Other Dangers," addressing courtship hazards and predators in familiar places, including strangers lurking in cars and homes. The final chapter, also titled "Aaaaaaaaaaah!," presents six darkly humorous items. Provides source notes and bibliography. For papers or projects, readers can identify versions of these stories told in their communities or adapt favorite tales for unique retellings. Reviewer: Elizabeth D. Schafer

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Scary Stories Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)
640L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Something Was Wrong

One morning John Sullivan found himself walking along a street downtown. He could not explain what he was doing there, or how he got there, or where he had been earlier. He didn't even know what time it was.

He saw a woman walking toward him and stopped her. "I'm afraid I forgot my watch," he said, and smiled. "Can you tell me the time?" When she saw him, she screamed and ran.

Then John Sullivan noticed that other people were afraid of him. When they saw him coming, they flattened themselves against a building, or ran across the street to stay out of his way.

"There must be something wrong with me," John Sullivan thought. "I'd better go home."

He hailed a taxi, but the driver took one look at him and sped away.

John Sullivan did not understand what was going on, and it scared him. "Maybe somebody at home can come and get me," he thought. He found a telephone and called his wife, but a voice he did not recognize answered.

"Is Mrs. Sullivan there?" he asked.

"No, she is at a funeral," the voice said. "Mr. Sullivan was killed yesterday in an accident downtown."

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Copyright © by Alvin Schwartz. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Alvin Schwartz is known for his more than two dozen books of folklore for young readers that explore everything from wordplay and humor to tales and legends of all kinds. Don't miss his other Scary Stories collections, including More Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark and Scary Stories 3.

Brett Helquist's celebrated art has graced books from the charming Bedtime for Bear, which he also wrote, to the New York Times–bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket to the glorious picture book adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. He lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York.

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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
Christina_Mouse More than 1 year ago
These are great books, that's not why I rated them so low. I'm pretty disappointed, however, that the publisher felt the need to change the illustrations that made these books so great (and scary) for so many generations. I grew up with these books and wasn't excited to see them changed recently when I went to buy them. Were they too scary? Isn't that the point of the stories in the first place? Stop trying to sugar-coat the world so that kids can't even have a good scare anymore without some parent complaining about their kids having nightmares and being afraid of the dark. It's a crippling thought that younger generations are so sheltered against having a real experience anymore.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
135KM More than 1 year ago
I choosed this book  this book because it look scary.By reading this tittle of this book i knew that it  was going to be about telling scary story in the night/dark.My reaction after i read this book is I was scared and sometimes i thought some of these stories were real. This  book is not what i  expected because there were different stories and sometimes it took time to get it.  This book has like 20 stories and they are all sort of scary stories they even sound real.these stories could be about dead people,missing people, and gosht.There a lot of character that you can't name them all.the author of this story is Alvin Schwartz i like this story because it was mysterious.
russellsgal More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I have the whole collection. I am glad I bought them before they changed the outer covers that they sell with today.
threeoutside More than 1 year ago
Which is not a bad thing! These are some very familiar, in some cases, very OLD, spooky stories of the kinds that kids and grownups have been telling around campfires from time immemorial. The style and tropes of story-telling have changed over the centuries, even over decades, so some of these seem a little pointless, or fall flat, when you just read them out of the book to yourself. But if you get the dramatization right, the timing, the hushing of voice, the expression of your eyes, just right - and the only light flickers just inside your little circle of wide-eyed listeners, with darkness and mystery looming right over your shoulders - some of these stories will have sleeping bags scrunched VERY close together for the rest of the night. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants some great spooky slumber party or campfire stories to scare the bejeezus out of your audience.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
granny-1_ More than 1 year ago
Bought for my grandson who loves scary stories. He loves it and would recommend it to anyone interested in scary stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Scary stories chill my bones the one story I loved is called the hook! The main characters are Donald and Sarah. The hook is about a boy and girl who go to the movies and heard some murder was on the loose with a hook for a hand it was very frightening and a real bone chiller. Another one of my favorites is called The Big Toe. It's main Character is a little boy that digs up a big toe and later that night he ate it for dinner. This one is my very favorite of them all It's called Cold as Clay. The main characters are a farmer his daughter and his daughter's love Jim. Now the daughter got sent away and while she was gone he died. I'm not telling any more so read it if you dare.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this collection when I was in late elementary/early middle school. I remember my 5th grade homeroom teacher letting me read these stories to my class and scaring the snot out of them. I've read that these books have been banned in many schools due to the "disturbing artwork" and the fact that the stories are too scary. The bottom line is this: Know your kids. I really don't think they're inappropriate for older kids, such as 4th grade and up, but they would be too intense for younger kids.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
Haven't read this in years. The short stories are creepy and some you might recognize. What makes it even more creepy is the drawings. Definitely worth reading, especially on Halloween.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Are you scared yet.? That's just one of the many horrifying lines that Alvin Schwartz writes. Each story makes you want to scream like my favorite story. Its about these 3 brothers. They are home alone with there baby sitter, when the phone rings and everything goes dark. Theres footsteps slowly creeping down the steps when out of no where..
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Pumpkin_Pie More than 1 year ago
This book is so scary that kids and parents will like it to. Now what I really wanted to say is that this book is great.
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sugargirl84 More than 1 year ago
When I was about nine I found this book in my school library. I absolutely loved it. That was sixteen years ago and I still enjoy it. I'm a childrens lead at Barnes and Noble and I always recommend this book to the older kids if there looking for a scary book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Evilnaruto44 More than 1 year ago
The Book is gruesome, filled with many stories. Stories that make you laugh and be afraid. Amazing drawings and story (or multiple stories), but i dont know if getting scared is a good lesson? Or not? The book is very short and can probably be read in an hour and a half, with normal-big size writing.