Probably one of the most memorable (at least the one that left an indelible mark on me), books from my early childhood is “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” by Alvin Schwartz. I remember when I was in elementary school everyone seemed absolutely obsessed with the three-part series. All of the kids on the bus would gather together in the mornings and choose a reader to tell at least three of the included tales, particularly the most disturbing ones.
The first part of the series, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”, came out on October 14, 1981. It includes tales and urban legends such as “The Big Toe”, “The Hearse Song”,”The Babysitter”, and 26 others. “The Babysitter” is about a nice young girl who is babysitting a few kids at home while their parents are away, when she gets an increasing amount of odd telephone calls from a man who says he is coming for her. She doesn’t believe him until he is actually putting an ax through her chest. I have always been fond of”The Hearse Song”, mostly because it’s both extremely catchy and creepy.
The second part of the series is called “More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”, and it came out on Halloween in 1984. This book contains 28 stories, such as “The Bride”, “Wonderful Sausage”, “Cat in a Shopping Bag”, “Cemetery Soup”, “The Man in the Middle”, and “Thumpity-Thump”. These may seem like comical stories because of their odd titles, but I assure you, they are much more terrifying than that. “The Bride” is probably one of the more memorable tales from the whole series, considering the mental scarring kids would get from the image of a bride getting trapped in a trunk and slowly suffocating to death while playing hide-and-seek at her own wedding, but it was still probably one of the brighter stories from the book.
The third and final part of the series is “Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones” that came out on September 1, 1991. This book is slightly smaller than the others, including only 25 tales. Such stories include “The Wolf Girl”, “Sam’s New Pet”, “Is Something Wrong?”, and “You May Be Next”. “The Wolf Girl” is my absolute favorite. As you probably have already gathered, it’s about an infant babe that’s abandoned by her parents in the woods, but instead of dying, she is adopted by wolves and lives with them for 17 years before she is finally found and caught by humans. Needless to say, the men that caught her didn’t have a good ending. I would definitely suggest reading these books, although I may not recommend letting any young children read them for the sake of their own sanity.