This trio of books is probably one of the most controversial series to hit American bookshelves. "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" is a trilogy of children's books written by Alvin Schwartz, made up of stories based on urban legends and local myths. These are the three volumes:
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1981)
More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1984)
Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones (1991)
The series is geared towards extremely young audiences (not that this stops the stories from being surprisingly violent), and while the stories may be scary for an eight-year old, older audiences will find them more cheesy than anything. Instead, what makes the books so scary (and controversial), on the other hand, are the illustrations that accompany them. Using little more than black ink and water, Stephen Gammell has given us some of the most notoriously terrifying pictures you'll ever see in a book. So much so that the Scary Stories are on the American Library Association's list of most challenged books (ie, Moral Guardians demanding they be pulled from library shelves), being the number one most challenged book for over a decade. Likely because of this controversy, Scary Stories and More Scary Stories have been released in new editions with considerably less unnerving artwork by Brett Helquist (best known for his work on A Series of Unfortunate Events), while copies with the original art have been pulled from shelves and are now worth a ton over the Internet.The stories were also collected and turned into a series of audiobooks with the same names. While they didn't contain any of the scary pictures from the books, the sometimes over the top telling of the stories could be a great replacement.For those whom the illustrations were too terrifying for, here is the link to the movie versionsof the Scary Stories.Soon to be a feature length movie from CBS Films and the writers of the Saw franchise.
Breaking And Bloodsucking: In "the Window", a girl sees a monster lurking out her window and she's too frightened to do anything. She unfortunately gives it the time to smash its way in, grab her, and bite into her throat. Her screams allow her brothers to save her and chase it off. The police pass it off as an escaped lunatic who thinks he's a vampire. Months later, the vampire comes clawing at her window again, but she screams at the sight of it and her brothers are able to track and kill it.
Cryptic Background Reference: The creepy woman from "The Dream" saying that the house with the carpet shaped like trapdoors and the windows nailed shut is an evil place. We never learn why, and it appears to be part of a larger story that the protagonist is not meant to be part of. She leaves before we learn anything more.
Dem Bones: Skeletons make many appearances: "The Thing", "Aaron Kelly's Bones", "The Bad News", "Is Something Wrong", "What Do You Come For", whatever the hell that thing is in the sky in the illustration for "Oh Susannah" etc.
Disproportionate Retribution: "Such Things Happen". As a poster on YouTube put it, "Accidentally running over someone's cat is one thing. It's another thing entirely to kill a defenseless dog out of spite."
Doomed New Clothes: The White Satin Evening Gown, although much more extreme than the trope normally calls for.
Jump Scare: In the film version of "Clinkety Clink" it SEEMS like that story would end with the old woman's ghost being unable to find her two silver dollars. But then... fade to black... two second pause... "YOU'VE GOT IT!" (scream)
It's invoked in the book version - it's meant to be read out loud, and requires the reader to do the same to the audience, complete with grabbing someone.
Inverted in "The Attic". The reader has to scream as loud as they can at the end, and end the story there. At least someone in the audience will ask why they screamed - the reader then explains you'd scream at the top of your lungs, too, if you stepped on a nail.
Lighter and Softer: The last story is always a lighter version of the first story. The second book's end portion had a comedic collection of the supernatural.
Mega Neko: In "Wait 'till Martin comes", there are three black cats, one normal sized, another cat the size of a wolf, and still another the size of a tiger. None of those cats are Martin, leading to the suspicion that "Martin" is the size of an elephant
Reptiles Are Abhorrent: "Alligators" (with the added twist that the titular 'gators are actually the protagonist's transformed husband and sons), and "Bess" (in which the protagonist is fatally bitten by a snake.)
Rise of Zitboy: "The Red Spot" mostly consists of the protagonist complaining about the disgusting, itching, hurting and growing spider bite - which is basically a zit - on her cheek. However, it turns out to be much worse than just a zit...
Shaggy Dog Story: In "The Baby Sitter", when the girl learns that the calls are coming from upstairs, she simply calls the police and leaves and the man is arrested. The end.
Shown Their Work: Most definitely. Each book ends with a comprehensive collection of sources, references, times, dates and locations. Of course, there are plenty of mistakes in those lists. See the YMMV page for details.
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: "Aaron Kelly's Bones". Features a widow's husband rising from the grave because he doesn't feel dead enough to die. In whatever universe this story takes place in, the rising dead are apparently nothing special, with the characters more annoyed than anything that this corpse insists on living. How that dead man danced...
This trope is somewhat in effect in "The Dream". After the eponymous nightmare, the girl in the story can't bring herself to visit the town she originally intended, so she visits an alternate village instead. Guess who she meets in this new town? That's right, that bloody pale woman.
Youtube Poop: Is becoming an increasingly popular source; search for "Tom's Terrifying Tales From the Toaster".