Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark cover.jpg
Author Alvin Schwartz
Illustrator Stephen Gammell
Cover artist Stephen Gammell
Country United States
Language English
Genre Horror, children's
Publisher Harper & Row
Published 1981–1991

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a series of three children's books written by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell. The titles of the books are Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1981), More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1984), and Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones (1991).


Schwartz drew heavily from folklore and urban legends as the topic of his stories, researching extensively and spending more than a year on writing each book.[1][2] The first volume was published in 1981, and the books have subsequently been collected in both a box set and a single volume. There is also an audiobook version of each book, read by George S. Irving. The audiobooks are presented in unabridged format with the exception of a handful of missing stories from the first book.

This series is listed as being the most challenged series of books from 1990–1999[3] and seventh most challenged from 2000–2009[4] by the American Library Association for its violence.[2] The surreal, nightmarish illustrations contained within are also a frequently challenged component of the original books.

To celebrate the books' 30th anniversary in 2011, Harper Collins re-released the books with new illustrations from Brett Helquist, the illustrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events. This has come under severe criticism from fans of Gammell's illustrations, citing that they are not as effective or as scary as the originals.[5]


# Title Original published date Pages ISBN
1 Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark October 14, 1981 128 ISBN 978-0-397-31927-5
The first book contains 29 stories, including "The Big Toe", "The Thing", "The Haunted House", "The Hearse Song", "The Dead Man's Brains", "The Hook", "High Beams", "The Babysitter", "The Viper", and "The Ghost with the Bloody Fingers". 
2 More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark October 31, 1984 112 ISBN 978-0-8124-4914-3
The second book contains 28 stories, including "Something was Wrong", "One Sunday Morning", "The Little Black Dog", "The Bride", "The Drum", "Oh, Susannah!", "The Bed by the Window", "The Church", "Cemetery Soup", and "Thumpity-Thump". 
3 Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones September 1, 1991 128 ISBN 978-0-7607-3418-6
The third and final book contains 25 stories, including "The Appointment", "Harold", "The Dead Hand", "The Dream", "Sam's New Pet", "The Red Spot", "No, Thanks", "Is Something Wrong?", "T-H-U-P-P-P-P-P-P-P!", and "You May Be Next...". 
Compilation The Scary Stories Treasury July 25, 2004 128 ISBN 978-0-760-76273-8
A compilation of all three books. 
Compilation Scary Stories: The Complete 3-Book Collection July 25, 2017 368 ISBN 978-0062682895
A box set of all three books with the original illustrations from Stephen Gammell. 

Film adaptation[edit]

In 2013, CBS Films acquired the rights to the Alvin Schwartz's children's book series Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, with the intent of producing it as a potential feature film.[6] It was announced in 2014 that writer John August will pen the film for CBS Films.[7] On January 14, 2016, it was announced that Guillermo del Toro would develop the project for CBS Films with potentially attached to direct, while he would also produce the film along with Sean Daniel, Jason Brown, and Elizabeth Grave.[8] On February 24, 2016, CBS Films hired screenwriting brothers duo Dan and Kevin Hageman to polish the draft written by August, and before him the script was written by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schwartz, Alvin; Vardell, Sylvia (1987). "Profile: Alvin Schwartz". Language Arts. 64 (4): 426–432. 
  2. ^ a b Monahan, Maureen (22 October 2015). "14 Terrifying Facts About 'Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark'". Mental Floss. Retrieved 21 October 2016. 
  3. ^ "100 most frequently challenged books: 1990–1999 |". Retrieved 2013-09-23. 
  4. ^ "Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009 |". Retrieved 2013-09-23. 
  5. ^ "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: Gammell vs. Helquist". 2011-12-18. Retrieved 2013-09-23. 
  6. ^ "CBS Films Nabs ‘Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark’ Pitch From ‘Saw’ Scribes". Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  7. ^ "'Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark' Will Get Rewritten by 'Frankenweenie' Writer John August". Retrieved 2014-11-18. 
  8. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (January 14, 2016). "Guillermo Del Toro Warms To ‘Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark’". Deadline. Retrieved February 26, 2016. 
  9. ^ Kroll, Justin (February 24, 2016). "Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Scary Stories’ Lands ‘Lego Movie’ Writers". Variety. Retrieved February 26, 2016.