Throwback: Chilling Children’s Stories

Slumber parties. Sleepovers. Campouts. When a group of children gather, it’s just a matter of time before scary stories are told.

Some of my best memories are of ghost stories told in whispers at sleepovers after all the adults had gone to bed.   So for this Throwback Thursday post, let’s talk about the books and stories that fueled the fire.

In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories

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This book was my first introduction to reading horror stories.  My mom would take my sister and me to the public library for their summer reading program, and we always wanted to check out this book.

Like most children’s books, the stories are short and simple.  But although it’s written for kids, the content is chilling even today.  It’s full of tales taken from folklore of various cultures.  The illustrations set the tone of the book with a little bit of humor and just the right amount of creepiness.

The story that stands out most to me is the one about the girl who wore a ribbon around her neck. Spoiler alert: her husband removes it on her deathbed, and her head falls off. As a kid, I loved that one.

The Scariest Stories You’ve Ever Heard

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I snagged these at book fairs in elementary school and brought them with me to every sleepover.  My love of urban legends came from these books, which were directed at a younger audience but were still full of dark and scary content.

The call is coming from inside the house!” Yep. The first time I ever heard or read these words was from the first book in this series.  I remember the first time I read about the hook hand and the one about the boyfriend who is hung over his car while his girlfriend waits inside, listening to the scratch, scratch, scratch of his feet above.

Good times.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

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Oooooohhhhh, man.  Lets talk about the big daddy of them all.  If you’re in your mid-20s to mid-30s and had even a slight interest in scary stories as a kid, you KNOW these books.  They’re still favorites of mine today.  Quirky, creepy, gross, and sometimes funny – how could you not love this stuff?

And let’s talk about the thing that elevated this from just another scary book to an unforgettable experience – Stephen Gammell’s horrifying illustrations.  Even if you can’t remember a specific story, I know you can remember the pictures. The one with the rotting ghost woman is the lock screen on my phone.  If my husband wouldn’t object, I’d display his art in my house.  Just sayin’. I LOVE IT.   The books are still around today, but the drawings have been replaced by those that are considered “kid friendly” instead.  I feel sorry for children today that won’t have the opportunity to get freaked out by these things.

So what about you? Are there any creepy books from your childhood that you miss?

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