Folktales/Urban Legends

With each book of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, Alvin Schwartz includes detailed annotations about the sources and interesting notes about the history of the tales he told. To pay homage to this practice, you will find here links regarding the many topics and background information that will be explored in this upcoming documentary.

Below you will find online resources that were referenced in Schwartz’s original source materials and notes in the back of the books. The background of these tales and the unique place that scary ghost stories, folktales, and urban legends play in children’s literature are subjects that beg to be explored.

The Big Toe

The Big Toe is one of the first tales in the first Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark book. It has a rich history, but the one textual variant that is alluded to in the sources section is told by Richard Chase in his book Grandfather Tales: American-English Folk Tales.


The White Wolf

This tale is about a ghostly wolf returning to enact revenge on a farmer that had killed all of the wolf in the land. Schwartz references Ruth Ann Musick’s The White Wolf in The Telltale Lilac Bush and Other West Virginia Ghost Tales.


The Haunted House

This tale also derives from a story told by Richard Chase, this time in his book American Folk Tales and Songs. It is a common haunted house story, with an accompanying illustration that leaves quite an impact. The story told in Chase’s book is almost identical in the telling.


The Wendigo

Schwartz references the classic novella The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood as a clear source for this tale.


High Beams

In the Encyclopedia of Urban Legends you can find detailed source information that describes the same sources Schwartz outlined in his book. This “killer in the back seat” urban legend has had a rich history over the years.


The Bride

The Samuel Rogers poem “Legend of the Mistletoe Bough” is referenced as a source for this storied ghost tale.


The Drum

The article both describes and provides a link to the source material that Schwartz references in his book, “The New Mother,” and it also describes popular author Neil Gaiman’s relationship to the tale.