Tag Archives: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark


He used to scare me most of all.

Did I get your attention?


Alvin Schwartz gave me nightmares at ten years old, and at 23, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark still makes me want my mommy. The illustrations – done by Stephen Gammell – are even enough to make one sleep with the light on. I recently discovered the boyfriend’s 25th Anniversary Edition when he said he finally, “remembered to bring my book of scary stories we used to read when I was a kid!” during our trip to the Poconos. Turns out, it’s the same book I used to read (and listen to on tape) with friends, curled up in  a corner of the library during recess or after school.

The Hearse Song was our favorite – and we memorized every line, of course – but nowadays, the book (and its 2 sequels) probably wouldn’t go over well with most parents, with lines like:

“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.”

I probably shouldn’t have eaten before writing this post.

“Hey kids! Who wants to sing about decomposition?”

“Oooooh! Me! Me!”

"A boy was digging at the edge of the garden when he saw a big toe. He tried to pick it up, but it was stuck to something."

How about the story of a slightly deformed young boy with a bent shovel, who discovers the toe of a man that was apparently buried in their garden, then gives the toe to his mother who puts in in their soup for supper? Now while I might read something like this to my child before bedtime, with some hot chocolate and a nightlight, most parents probably wouldn’t.

I've got dinner!

One of my favorites was always “Me Tie Dough-ty Walker”, the story of a boy and his dog who spend a night in a haunted house, where every night it was said that a bloody head fell down the chimney (not too scary, right?). I think I was more terrified by the fact that the dog could talk.

“For a while nothing happened. But a little after midnight he heard someone singing softly and sadly off in the woods. The singing sounded something like this:

‘Me tie dough-ty walker!’

‘It’s just somebody singing,’ the boy told himself, but he was frightened.

Then his dog answered the song! Softly and sadly, it sang:

‘Lynchee kinchy colly molly dingo dingo!'”

"Suddenly a bloody head fell out of the chimney. It missed the fire and landed right next to the dog. The dog took one look and fell over - dead from fright."

My God, never mind the fact that a bloody head is about to fall down the chimney, or what lynchee kinchy wolly molly dingo wingo means…THAT DOG JUST TALKED!

And as terrifying as these stories are, they are a sentimental part of my childhood (and the illustrations would make some amazing tattoos). I suggest picking up a copy of this book and reading it (not necessarily to your children) around a bonfire or in the dark with a flashlight and a bottle of booze.

And with that, I leave you with The Hearse Song. Memorize. Enjoy. Sing it to the kids who won’t get off your lawn.


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