What collection of short horror stories can I read aloud to kids?
September 27, 2011 7:45 AM   Subscribe

Calling all librarians! I need a book of short, scary stories suitable for reading aloud to kids.

I'm a committed horrorist, but I don't spend much time investigating children's entertainment, so please recommend collections of horror stories that are good for reading aloud. They have to be very short-- no longer than a page or two-- and they have to be scary. I love the illustrations in the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark collections, but will the stories themselves scare kids? I've also found this and this on Amazon. Are they good for reading aloud? I'm really hoping for some first-hand recommendations here.
posted by Faint of Butt to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
What age kids?
posted by pointystick at 8:01 AM on September 27, 2011

Response by poster: Various ages; I can't really predict. Trick-or-treaters.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:23 AM on September 27, 2011

I think you're on the right track. Alvin Schwartz was the first to come to mind.
posted by hellomina at 8:23 AM on September 27, 2011

If you can find anything by Maria Leach (they're probably out of print so you probably have to look at used books online, or check a library), that might be good, although I'm not sure about their length. The Thing at the Foot of the Bed and Other Scary Stories is the one I'm remembering clearly from childhood.
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:36 AM on September 27, 2011

I don't know how short you're looking for, but Alvin Schwartz's collections will absolutely scare kids (especially if read by a good reader). I can still recall most of them, with a long shiver.
posted by muddgirl at 8:39 AM on September 27, 2011

Also, IIRC the last story in any collection ends on a humorous note - those might be better for younger kids.
posted by muddgirl at 8:40 AM on September 27, 2011

Neil Gaiman's The Dangerous Alphabet is perfect just for the pictures alone.
posted by nasayre at 8:59 AM on September 27, 2011

Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids! They're great for reading out, as demonstrated by the TV series: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsGYo2bKHBk
posted by Coobeastie at 9:12 AM on September 27, 2011

According to Wikipedia Alvin Schwartz's "Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark" is listed as the 7th most challenged series of books from 2000 to 2009 by the American Library Association for their violence. I personally don't know of this one way or another because I have never looked at the books.
posted by malhaley at 9:30 AM on September 27, 2011

I remember being deliciously scared by Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. The art was a big part of it, but the stories themselves are also creepy! The ghosty dog! And Oh Suzannah! I haven't read that book in 15 years and I still remember them.
posted by chatongriffes at 10:14 AM on September 27, 2011

In The Land of Lawn Weenies is a collection of creepy/scary stories by David Lubar. They're not so much halloween themed but there's one - the Fairy in the Jar - that still gives me shivers.
posted by lemniskate at 10:30 AM on September 27, 2011

but will the stories themselves scare kids?

They scared me.
posted by Jess the Mess at 1:51 PM on September 27, 2011

A local actor visited my middle school and recited The Tell Tale Heart to my 6th grade class. He really used his chops and emoted some scenes (but that's not necessary for a good reading). It's what turned me on to Poe, and remains one of my favorite memories of that time. Highly recommended.
posted by troll at 3:30 PM on September 27, 2011

HUGE fan of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books, though admittedly a lot of it is those terrifying illustrations. When I was wee, I was a big ghost story reader, so most of the stories as such frightened my friends more than they did me. But there were a few that really freaked me out and stuck with me for years. I realized much later that those were the urban legends which somehow ended up in there. The chihuahua that turned out to be a rabid sewer rat? Yeah, you can find that in folklore books as "The Mexican Pet." I think The Choking Doberman was in one or another as well, and the "People Can Lick Too" story... Suffice to say that all of this led me to some serious shivering when reading the various Brunvand urban legend collections. So for somewhat older or more experienced kids, those might work better.

Mind, I love some good supernatural spooky stories too, but those are terribly hard to find, the more so in short form.
posted by Because at 9:39 AM on September 29, 2011

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