Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is the first of an American series of three children’s books written by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell. The titles of the books are Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1981), More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1984), and Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones (1991).
Schwartz drew heavily from folklore and urban legends as the topic of his stories, researching extensively and spending more than a year on writing each book.
The first volume was published in 1981, and the books have subsequently been collected in both a box set and a Scary Stories Treasury single volume. There is also an audiobook version of each book, read by George S. Irving.
This series is listed as being the most challenged series of books from 1990–1999 and seventh most challenged from 2000–2009 by the American Library Association for its violence. The surreal, nightmarish illustrations contained within are also a frequently challenged component of the original books.
To celebrate the books’ 30th anniversary in 2011, Harper Collins re-released the books with new illustrations from Brett Helquist, the illustrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events. This caused severe criticism from fans of Gammell’s illustrations, as many cited that they are not as effective or as scary as the originals. The books have subsequently been re-issued twice (in 2013 and 2017) with Gammell’s original images restored.