Challenged Books: Scary Stories Series

I was both happy and a little nervous to see the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Series on the 2012 Banned and Challenged Book list, because it meant I would have to revisit my childhood fear. These books are probably the reason I didn’t get a full night’s sleep for most of 1994.

Damn you, Alvin Schwartz!

Damn you, Alvin Schwartz!

But let’s be real, most of the credit for this goes to Stephen Gammell, who filled these books with drawings like this:

This was the exact moment my innocence died

This was the exact moment my innocence died

Oh my god were these books terrifying. Which of course meant that no one I knew could stop reading them. To be fair, not all of them end in grizzly ghost-death.

Sometimes there are also spiders.

Sometimes there are also spiders.

Yeah, these are definitely not appropriate for every kid (or every adult). Luckily there are plenty less-soul-scarring books in the library for them to read. Eventually, though, everyone has to confront their fears, and I reread all three of these books, turning the pages with trepidation at what might be waiting for me.

BOO!

BOO!

I realize now that the stories aren’t really that bad. A lot of times the protagonists live after something vaguely spooky or unsettling happens to them. Really in a lot of cases the pants-wetting terror of the illustrations seems a little over-the-top compared to the words. It makes me wonder how these books would do if Stephen Gammell’s mad genius was taken out. Probably they would never be challenged… but also a lot fewer kids would want to read them.

Previously: Challenged Books: The Ones I’ve Already Read
Next: Captain Underpants!

One response to “Challenged Books: Scary Stories Series”

  1. Jessica says:

    My brother had these books when we were little. He used to make me read stories out of them to get him to do things. Somehow, in retrospect, “I’ll only come outside and jump on the trampoline with you if you read this story” seems less malicious.

    I totally agree about the pictures– they were definitely the scariest part!

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