Foundational Books: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

I am a secret horror lover, squiders. But only a very particular type of horror. You won’t catch me watching horror movies (I had to sleep with my TV on for three nights after seeing The Ring–because if the TV was already on it conceivably couldn’t turn itself on) and I don’t like a gore, but I love horror with a tinge of the supernatural–ghost stories, or tales of ancient, forgotten evil, doppelgangers, things of those ilk.

And among the first versions of this type of story I came across was Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, written in the 80s and early 90s. There’s three books with a different selection of short stories in each.

(Alvin Schwartz also wrote other horror short story collections for children, including In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories, which features one of most haunting stories I’ve ever read, “The Green Ribbon.” And, you know, non-horror short story collections for children, but who cares about those.)

I guess they made a movie of the book series this year? Because when I googled the title that’s what came up first. How do you do that, make a movie based off a collection of short stories? Anyway, the movie comes out TODAY which is a weird coincidence.

(I will probably not see the movie, because as noted above I don’t have a very high threshold for terror, and the nice thing about reading horror vs. watching horror is that you can control the amount of imagination you put into picturing things.)

These books were a great intro to the horror genre. All the stories are pretty short, so you could read one or two in a few minutes and then go find something else to think about to get said stories out of your head.

I would go on to read more horror as I got older, especially the Goosebumps series and another author I’ll discuss a little later on in this series, Mary Downing Hahn (specifically Wait til Helen Comes, which I re-read recently as an adult and is still terrifying), and this flavor of horror has certainly informed my own horror stories when I write them.

(I’m working on a haunted space station novella right now which is super fun, not going to lie.)

I haven’t re-read these as an adult–I don’t think I ever owned them, honestly, instead checking them out incessantly from the school library–but I would bet they hold up pretty decently.

Read Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, squiders? Any stories stand out in your head? Recommendations for supernatural horror to read?

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