20 Children’s Books Like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Alvin Schwartz, born in 1927, was an American author and journalist with over fifty books focused on children’s literature, horror stories, and folklore. His work as a writer and author eventually got published by significant firms in the United States, including HarperCollins.

books like scary stories to tell in the dark

Though he is best known for his famous book Scary Stories To tell in the Dark, some other of his works include; A Twister of Twists, a Tangler of Tongues When I Grew Up Long Ago, Stories To Tell a Cat, I Saw You in the Bathtub and many others. 

Glen Rounds illustrated most of his books, and the illustrations mainly featured nightmarish, gooey characters that played a more significant part in the stories. He admitted to being influenced by writers like Shakespeare, T.S Elliot, Mark Twain, and Jan Harold Brunvand. 

Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark was his foray into mainstream media, with an additional two sequels released and a movie adaptation in 2019 which critics received well. In 2017, the three Scary Stories books garnered sales of seven million copies and have frequently been hailed as a cultural milestone in children’s literature and the horror genre. Furthermore, it was listed in the American Library Association’s “100 most frequently challenged books from 1990-1999.”

Alvin was a well-liked and respected author dedicated to telling children’s stories in a way that every audience could relate to. He was constantly researching his stories extensively before writing each book. 

In honor of the amazing Alvin Schwartz, we have compiled a non-exhaustive list of similar books like Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman


Picture a young girl named Coraline whose parents recently moved to a new neighborhood. She finds a secret doorway in her new home that leads to a parallel universe where she is welcomed by an entity known as Other Mother, who has buttons for eyes. 

This story follows the adventures of Coraline as she tries to escape the Other Mother, who later reveals herself as Bedlam. The story delves deep into themes of abandonment, letting go, a sense of loss, and, most importantly, the thin line between our reality and self-preservation. Her adventures were horrifying and intriguing enough for anyone to keep flipping. 

Carrie by Stephen King


A young, misunderstood teen in high school with an abusive, overly religious mother whose telekinetic powers and no friends form a recipe for disaster. This book follows the life of Carrie, our antihero. The infamous scene in the book was later visualized in multiple movie adaptations. 

Carrie exists to prove that horror isn’t reserved for supernatural phenomena, as we see that humans are capable of inflicting horror. The author of this book, Stephen King is a well-recognized horror writer whose books are well-adored by fans worldwide, so you should try this out.

Scary Stories to Tell if You Dare by Joe Oliveto

Scary Stories to Tell if You Dare

Twenty-five stories from different folklore ranging from various short stories, of which one features a young boy constantly interrupted by a visitor who only comes in the nighttime to him. Other stories also feature more frightening stories than you can guess. 

Scary Stories to Tell if You Dare has often been praised as one of the creepiest kid books ever, and readers can journey through the stories with ease and an ever-creeping sense of horror. 

Night of the Living Dummy by R.L. Stine

Night of the Living Dummy (Classic Goosebumps #1) (1)

Twins Lindy and Kris find a ventriloquist dummy and decide to rescue it by naming it and bringing it home. What happens as the story progresses scares both the twins and the readers. Night of the Living Dummy propels through magic mixed with horror. 

R.L. Stine is praised for her work with children’s fiction, and this won’t be the last time she appears on this list. She is not only a prolific writer with numerous books; she is one of the best in this genre, and her audience greatly enjoys whatever she puts out. 

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. 

The Halloween Tree

Set in the background of Halloween as a holiday that is already spooky. Add nine kids to the mix of children trick or treating, and boom, a good horror story is borne. One of the boys in question is targeted and dragged away by something dark and sinister, and his friends have to save him with the unwanted help of someone unknown to them.  

Time travel, adventure, thrills from saving a friend, and a fear of something lurking from beyond? The Halloween Tree possesses all those qualities that ensure maximum fascination even as readers clench their fists with each page.  Hailed as one of the most celebrated 20th Century American Writers, Ray Bradbury went on to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program for his script in The Halloween Tree. 

Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn 

Wait Till Helen Comes Graphic Novel: A Ghost Story

Ghosts are a scary phenomenon, but our heroine Heather doesn’t seem to think so. She is described as a whiny brat who always gets her stepbrother and sister in trouble. That changes when Heather finds a new friend in the graveyard who died years ago in a fire.

On the surface, this might seem like any other ghost story, but the underlying themes of suicide, loss of loved ones, and abandonment the characters face are why it is a good horror story. Though it went on to win a Young Reader’s Choice Award, the sensitive topics discussed by Mary Hahn made some parents request that the book be removed from reading lists in schools.  

More Bones by Arielle North Olson

More Bones, Scary Stories From Around the World

Scary stories are intriguing. One minute, the reader is smiling, and the next, their mouths are wild open from the events. Arielle Olson guarantees your experience won’t be the same after reading More Bones

Spooky story after spooky story. From the man who marries a corpse, or a school where only one student is never allowed to leave, these stories are confirmed to make you want more. Just ensure the kids are tucked safely in bed. 

Terrifying Tales to Tell at Night by Stephen Jones

Terrifying Tales to Tell at Night: 10 Scary Stories to Give You Nightmares!

This is an odd inclusion to this list, as the above author isn’t the sole writer of the stories. Still, the stories in this book were selected to fit into the title from authors like Alvin Schwartz, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman; the scary stories about a creature that lives in the dark, a haunted Halloween house, and a puzzle set displayed by a ghost. 

If you love the books mentioned above by Alvin Schwartz and enjoy getting goosebumps, this is perfect for you. 

Don’t Turn Out the Lights: A Tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Jonathan Maberry

Don’t Turn Out the Lights: A Tribute to Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

If the heading didn’t inform you about the content of this book, then we would do you the honors. A collection of stories handpicked from the very best work of Alvin Schwartz and features stories from authors like R.L. Stine and Madeleine Roux. A group of 35 stories that will chill you to your bones. 

From flesh-eating ogres, spider brains, and haunted mansions that have been charmed not to authorize escape? This book has them and more. If you are a fan of R.L. Stine and Alvin Schwartz, these macabre stories curated by bestselling author Jonathan Maberry are right up your alley. 

The Doom Stone by Paul Zindel

The Doom Stone

One thing about certain protagonists? They don’t know when to stop. An introduction to John, who is on an archaeological dig with his relative. He witnesses an attack that propels him to find out the culprits. 

Set in a realistic landscape of a supernatural realm, The Doom Stone provides a good enough horror story for fans. 

The Bewitching of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes

The Bewitching of Aveline Jones

This book introduces you to a 13-year-old girl, Aveline Jones, who is, unfortunately, the recipient of sinister magic. An imaginative tale that ensures readers are gripped to the edge of their seats because who will win this tense battle? The scary witch or our heroine who already has alternating paths laid out for her?

The Bewitching of Aveline Jones might resonate more with those who love a good old-fashioned supernatural mystery. Still, it also employs all sides of scare tactics to keep readers interested. 

The Children of Green Knowe by L.M Boston

The Children of Green Knowe

Ghost stories are undoubtedly an exciting genre to read. Everyone loves a good ghost story, and The Children of Green Knowe does not disappoint. The playfulness and underlying sense of doom for our story’s main character make this one of the best entries on this list. 

Our story’s main character can feel ghosts before they appear. This proves complicated as they have to help these ghosts find peace. This entry is particularly guaranteed to make the kids look under the bed.

The Ghost of Thomas Kempe by Penelope Lively

Ghost Of Thomas Kempe

Comedy with a good dose of spookiness ensures an excellent haunted house story. We are transported to the usage of 17th Century English, which makes this entry one of the most interesting. 

We see our central character move to a new house and find out that not only is his house haunted, the ghost of a famous apothecary inevitably seizes his soul. The implementation of humor in an attempt to distract readers from the horrors our hero must face is why The Ghost of Thomas Kempe is a must-read. 

The Haunting of Hiram by Eva Ibbotson

The Haunting of Hiram

In a less famous entry on this list, we see our main character assume a position of responsibility only to find out that not only is the castle haunted, but there are also multiple ghosts lurking around. The comedic employment by the author to lessen the efficiency of a haunted house is hilarious. 

The Haunting of Hiram might be less severe than other entries on this list because of its timely humor and childish jump scares. However, it still makes for a good ghost story that will keep readers entertained, and most importantly, everyone can read this. 

The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde

The Canterville Ghost: with original illustrations by Wallace Goldsmith

Oscar Wilde is known for another genre entirely, but his venture into writing a ghost story was successful. This classic carries elements of parody that other authors have used. Our main character meets his match in another family. Sprinkle children, a haunted house, and ghosts into the mix, and we see an increasing frustration in the book’s final scenes. The Canterville Ghost uses the clinches of ghosts and haunted houses without feeling burdensome. The last catch is that this book has no age restriction. 

Say Cheese and Die by R.L Stine

Goosebumps: Say Cheese and Die!

Another famous entry by the great R.L. Stine is a story that follows George and his paranormal camera. One may wonder why a camera is the main character in this book, but they would have to keep reading for that reason. 

Photos seem different, and our main character worries he may have unleashed something devastating on his unsuspecting family. This is top on the list for lovers of supernatural mystery and ink of good ole ghosts.

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe

The Tell-Tale Heart & Other Tales

Known as one of Edgar Allen Poe’s shortest stories. Readers may, unfortunately, ask more questions than find answers to them while reading this book. A psychological thriller assured to keep the eyes glued to the story as it progresses. 

The Tell-Tale Heart is one of those stories guided by logic, and lovers of Alvin Schwartz and Neil Gaiman will thoroughly enjoy this story.

Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

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Creepy mansions and haunted houses? Japanese folklore? Unimaginable plot twists? This book promises all of these and more. Hidden deeply in an estate is a bride out for revenge, so what happens when a group of merry friends approaches the mansion with plans for partying and drinking? 

Nothing But Blackened Teeth is the perfect book for those seeking thrills from vengeful behavior. 

Mister Babadook by Jennifer Kent

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Dealing with a recent loss, we meet a widow and her son. They move to a new house and encounter a new monster. This becomes a fight for their lives as strange events happen around the home under the influence of an entity called Mr. Babadook.

Though many have argued that the titular monster is symbolic of the grief and guilt the main character feels over the death of her husband, Mister Babadook, which still makes for a good horror story.

The Collector by K.R. Alexander 

The Collector

Set in the countryside, we see our main character and her family relocate after the parent’s job loss. Our main character loves the countryside, but this relocation does not work out, especially when the grandmother has two restricting rules. 

For lovers of creepy dolls and a story about the occult, The Collector is the right book to read.


All of these stories display the powerhouse that is the genre of horror, from stories about creepy voodoo dolls to haunted houses and ghosts. Any of these carefully collected stories serve as excellent examples, and if you haven’t already checked them out, please do so. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Alvin Schwartz still write books?

Unfortunately, he passed away in 1992, but his books are still on sale on Amazon for interested fans.

Were his stories solely for Children?

While his genre focused on Children’s Literature and Horror fiction, his books have no age restrictions. They are to be enjoyed by anyone with imagination and a love for reading horror stories.

Can anyone on this list compare to Alvin Schwartz?

Alvin Schwartz was recognized as a prolific writer; however, some selected few can be compared to his writing style and the emotions he could elicit from his audience.

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Daniella Okorobie