In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories (I Can Read! Reading 2)

by Alvin Schwartz

Paperback, 1985



Local notes

R Sch (c.2)





HarperCollins (1985), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 64 pages


Seven scary stories to tell at night in front of a fire or in the dark, based on traditional stories and folktales from various countries.

Original publication date


Physical description

64 p.; 8.9 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member t1bclasslibrary
This has the story of the Green Ribbon- what more need I say? It also has other, less scary, less favored ghost stories. Read "The Green Ribbon."
LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Folklorist and children's author Alvin Schwartz presents seven spooky selections in this early-reader collection. From the opening tale about The Teeth, in which a boy runs from a series of men, each with teeth longer than the last, to the closing children's song about The Ghost of John, the
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contents here is sure to give young beginning readers the shivers. In the Graveyard sees a fat woman speaking to three thin corpses in a graveyard, while The Green Ribbon follows the tale of a young girl who always wears a ribbon of green around her neck. The titular In a Dark, Dark Room uses repetition to build suspense, and scare the reader, while The Night it Rained and The Pirate both chronicle a ghostly encounter.

Although I have vivid memories of reading Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark as a girl - a collection that was intended for older, middle-grade readers - I never happened to pick up In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories, which first saw print in 1984. I'm glad I've finally remedied that situation, as I think this collection makes an admirable spooky read for younger children who are just becoming independent readers. I appreciated the author's foreword, in which he talks about the appeal of being scared, and I also appreciated the afterword, in which he briefly discusses the folkloric sources for each selection. With the exception of The Teeth, which comes from Suriname, it would seem that these tales and songs are mostly British and/or Euro-American. The accompanying artwork by Dirk Zimmer accentuates the scares to be found in each tale, and ably complements the text. Recommended to beginning readers looking for ghost stories.
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LibraryThing member sharlamccall
This is a collection of scary stories to scare your friends with. They are meant to be told slowly, with a soft voice, in a dark room.

Personal Reaction:
I thought the stories were more humorous than scary. That’s probably because I was alone, in a well lit room, reading them to myself.
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There was one story I remember telling when I was a child; of course it was scary to me then. I think children would enjoy the stories.

Classroom extension ideas:
I would have the students write their own scary story. I would turn off the lights, maybe make a faux fire, and we would sit around it and let them tell their stories.

You could also read this story around Halloween, and have the students make characters and scenes from the book to use as decorations in the classroom.
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LibraryThing member Megs_Scrambled
I love these stories, so when I found out they were published in Early Reader format, I bought the book. Children like creepy stories and these tales do not disappoint, even thirty years later. The book has seven stories, so although long, a child doesn't have to complete the book in one sitting.
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The font is in a large format with short sentences and controlled vocabulary. Each story is slightly different from each other, with some using rhyme and others standard prose. The pictures enhance the story but don't detract from the child's mission to read the words. I like that the scary appeal can help a child finish the story and find resolution.
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LibraryThing member Zoes_Human
In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories is an early reader book of retold traditional scary folktales. For adult readers sharing the experience with a juvenile, it will bring back fond memories of slumber party and campfire scares or perhaps the exhilaration of reading terrifying tales by
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flashlight under the covers. It's a great read for Halloween, a stormy night, or maybe daytime for those more prone to nightmares.

For all that the stories are great and the art is wonderful, I can't give this book more than two stars for two reasons. First, traditional or no, the second story, "In the Graveyard" is fat-shaming. We know far too much now about the impact media has on young minds to justify putting a story in front of kids that centers around the idea that being undead is better than being fat.

Second, I read the 2017 reillustrated edition. There is absolutely no excuse in 2017 for HarperCollins to put out a kid's book with art that has nothing but white folks in it. There are obviously times and places where characters need to be a specific race or ethnicity due to the story; this is not one of those. Kids of every race like scary stories and there is simply no justifiable reason for them not to see themselves represented in this book. It's especially shameful because the whole reason publishers put reillustrated editions out is to catch the artwork up to modern times.

This book is appropriate for ages old enough to have a frank if simple discussion about racism and body positivity. If you're the kind of adult that's up for that, you have at with this anthology. Or better yet, grab some blankets and a flashlight, and spend some quality time terrifying your children yourself. But still have those discussions anyway!

(I'm so irate right now that a perfectly good story collection has been spoiled white supremacy. Seriously, HarperCollins, what were you thinking?)
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LibraryThing member Faith_Murri
That story about Jenny's green ribbon still haunts me
LibraryThing member atlomas
My son brought this book home from school and we read it together and enjoyed it! Now he can't stop reading it so I am very glad it has his interest. I would use this book during Halloween time to try and create a scary mood for them by turning off lights and having flashlights. There are some
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stories like "The Green Ribbon" that would be too scary to read to children however but good retelling of scary stories.
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LibraryThing member Faith_Murri
That story about Jenny's green ribbon still haunts me
LibraryThing member YukiNatsuo
Loved this! Good for reluctant readers as this is a compilation of short horror stories but not too scary!

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