One Of Your Favorite Childhood Books Was The Most Banned Book Of The 90’s

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Doesn’t ring a bell?

Is it all coming back to you now?

According to the ALA’s website, Alvin Schwartz’s horror series (yes, it was specifically written for children despite those horrifying illustrations) were the most banned books of the 90’s. 

Schwartz’s stories were based on folklore while the grotesque and bizarre images by Stephen Gammell were wholly original and therefore easily ingrained into the malleable subconscious of children everywhere.

While parents did criticize the books for theirtwisted content and questionable merit, the real point of contention seemed to be the visual component rather than the written one. When Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark was redone for its 30th anniversary, something peculiar happened: not only were the original illustrations absent from the new version, they were replaced by new artwork (by Brett Helquist, famous for his work on Series of Unfortunate Events) that wasn’t nearly as horrifying or disturbing as Gammell’s.


When it came down to it, children loved the books (and were simultaneously scared silly by them) and parents for the most part hated them with a passion. But is all of this hoopla really enough to warrant it the most banned books of the 90’s? Surely the controversy sparked something, as there is currently both a feature film and documentary in the works about Schwartz’s series.

On that note, and in the spirit of contentious writing, Banned Books Week is coming up September 25th through October 1st! Be sure to follow #bannedbooksweek on Twitter, and stay tuned for more #bannedbooksweek content in the coming week as we feature student projects on some of the most well-known banned books! So, pick up your megaphones and dig up the most notorious literature you can find to celebrate it…maybe even search for your copy of Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark if you dare…