Review: In A Dark, Dark Room by Alvin Schwartz

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 64 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (October 2, 1985)
ISBN-10: 0064440907
Source: Library copy

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this collection of stories, also retold by Alvin Schwartz, who I consider the king of scary tales for children. In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories (I Can Read Books) is perhaps one of my favorite scary stories books for early readers.  Schwartz has collected eight scary stories, all in a format that is easy to read for early readers.  The text is large, the sentences are short and the vocabulary is easy.  Overall, a great introduction to scary stories for children.

Here are just a few of my favorite stories:

The Green Ribbon: There was once a little girl named Jenny.  She was your average young girl, except she always wore a green ribbon around her neck.

There was a young boy named Alfred who liked Jenny, and Jenny liked him in return.  Alfred asked Jenny about the ribbon, but Jenny told him she couldn’t tell him about it.  Jenny & Alfred grew up, fell in love, and got married. After the wedding, Alfred once again asked about the ribbon. Jenny insisted that she’d tell him about it when the time was right.

Jenny & Alfred grew old, and Jenny got sick.  The doctor confirmed that she would soon die. She called Alfred to his side and said she could now tell him about the ribbon.  Alfred carefully removed the ribbon…and Jenny’s head fell off.

Let me tell you how much the story terrified me as a child! For the longest time I was wary of women who wore scarves or anything tied around their necks.

In A Dark, Dark Room: This story is my boys’ favorite!  It starts out by describing things in a dark, dark, house. In that dark, dark, house, there is a dark, dark room. In that dark, dark room, there is a chest, etc. etc. My boys loved to read this story along with me and at 11 and 5, both have it memorized.

The Pirate: Ruth was spending her summer with her cousin, Susan.  Susan informs her that a pirate used to live in their house. The pirate died and reportedly haunts the room in which Ruth is staying.  The family doesn’t believe in ghosts and haven’t seen anything to change their mind.  Ruth goes to her room and looks under the bed, in the closet, under the rug, etc.  She doesn’t find anything, so she exclaims “There is nobody in this room but me.” A voice replies…”And ME!”

This story plays with every child’s fear of something living under the bed, or in the closet.  However, telling it verbally versus reading it aloud adds a bit more fear to it.  One of the many things I enjoy about this book is the illustrations.  They make the stories a little scary, but a lot of fun!

Once again, I highly recommend this one.  Check back tomorrow when I wrap up my middle-grade horror favorites with a special guest review of a R.L. Stine Fear Street book!

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3 Comments to "Review: In A Dark, Dark Room by Alvin Schwartz"

  1. Judy Schu's Gravatar Judy Schu
    October 6, 2010 - 3:23 PM | Permalink

    I would agree that this book is a good one to introduce such stories to young readers….I do remember reading this book with some children this time of year….It’s reassuring to young ones to be able to repeat the book over and over again. I would guess that someone feels more in control if they can expect what happens, and dramatize the story to make it even more scary. This is a spooky and fun time of the year!

  2. October 10, 2010 - 8:14 PM | Permalink

    Ah yes, this is the one with the ribbon. And as soon as you mentioned those other two stories, they came flooding back to me. I loved this collection as a kid but it might be part of the reason I still run and jump into bed if I have to get up in the middle of the night.

  3. JBranton's Gravatar JBranton
    October 12, 2011 - 8:41 PM | Permalink

    Very bad book for any child being raised in a christian home. Look somewhere else.

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