R.1, R.2, R.3, R.4, R.5, R.6, R.7, W.3, SL.1, SL.2, L.4, L.5, L.6

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Based on the Story by Washington Irving

Art by Gary Hanna

Are you afraid of the Headless Horseman? 


*Starred characters have larger speaking parts.

  • *Narrators 1, 2, & 3  (N1, N2, N3) 
  • *Storyteller 
  • *Ichabod Crane, a teacher
  • *Katrina Van Tassel, a charming young woman  
  • *Brom Bones, a young man and jokester   
  • Villagers: Martha, Ida, Van Ripper, Jansen, Hans, Brouwer 
  • All, to be read by the group


N1: It’s a dark night, just outside a forest.

N2: A glowing light comes up. 

N3: The Storyteller appears.

Storyteller: I was never one for ghost stories. But then I visited an eerie village called Sleepy Hollow. 

N1: Leaves begin rustling.

Storyteller: It was there that I learned about a man named Ichabod Crane.

N2: The wind howls.

Storyteller: Are you ready to hear a spooky tale?


Storyteller: Ichabod Crane was the new teacher in town. He was a lanky man with big eyes and a long nose. Everyone in the village was excited to meet him.

Martha: Good day, teacher! 

Ichabod (startled): Good day, ladies.

Ida: Are you enjoying Sleepy Hollow? 

Ichabod: Oh yes. But the wind was very loud last night. 

Martha: That wasn’t the wind. That was a ghost. Her name is the Wailing Widow.

Ichabod: A ghost? Are you serious? 

Martha: Yes. 

Ida: She cries when a terrible storm is coming. 

N3: The women walk away.

N1: Ichabod is spooked.

N2: He looks up at the sky and shivers.


Storyteller: One day, Ichabod went to the home of Katrina Van Tassel. He gave her singing lessons each week. Many people in town admired Katrina, including Ichabod.

N3: Ichabod knocks on the front door of the mansion. 

N1: A beautiful and cheery young woman answers. 

Katrina: Mr. Crane! Isn’t my lesson tomorrow?

Ichabod: It is. I came by to give you a present. 

N2: Ichabod holds out two shiny red apples. 

Katrina: Why, thank you. 

N3: Ichabod smiles shyly. 

N1: The sound of horse hooves fills the air. 

Katrina: That must be Brom Bones. He’s come to take me riding. 

N2: A large man rides up on a big black horse.  

Brom: Hello, Katrina.

N3: He points at Ichabod.

Brom: It looks like your scarecrow escaped from the cornfield.

Katrina: Stop it, Brom. That’s Mr. Crane, the new teacher.

Brom: Sorry, Crane. Your clothes are so loose, and your neck is so skinny.   

N1: Brom chuckles unkindly.

N2: Katrina climbs onto Brom’s horse and waves goodbye to Ichabod.

Katrina: Don’t forget about my party, Mr. Crane!

N3: Brom frowns at Ichabod. Then he and Katrina ride off.


Storyteller: The next evening, Ichabod got ready to go to the party. He couldn’t stop thinking about Katrina and her lovely voice.

N1: Ichabod’s friend Van Ripper enters the room.

Van Ripper: Almost ready for the party?

Ichabod: I think so. I’m nervous, though. I can tell Brom likes Katrina. And I think he knows.

Van Ripper: Knows what?

Ichabod (blushing): Well . . . I’m in love with Katrina too. 

Van Ripper: Be careful. I wouldn’t mess with Brom if I were you.

Map Illustration by Steve Stankiewicz

The Hudson River Valley  
Washington Irving might have gotten his idea for “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” when he was just 15 years old. That’s when his parents sent him to live with friends in Tarrytown, New York. Irving fell in love with the Hudson River Valley area and its many ghost stories.


Storyteller: At the party, the Van Tassels’ home was overflowing with food.  

N2: Ichabod stares at a table full of sweets. 

N3: Brom approaches. 

Brom (coldly): Ichabod. 

Ichabod (coldly): Brom.

N1: Lively music fills the room. Ichabod finds Katrina.

Ichabod: Will you dance with me?

Katrina: Of course!  

N2: As they dance, Katrina laughs with delight. 

N3: Ichabod’s long limbs fly around the room.

Brom (muttering to himself): My goodness. Ichabod looks like an octopus in a tornado!

N1: Brom Bones watches them dance, feeling more and more jealous.


Storyteller: Later that night at the party, talk turned to the supernatural.  

Martha: Have you been up near the hill? 

Ida: You can hear the ghosts screaming.

Ichabod: There are so many ghosts in Sleepy Hollow! 

Jansen: But none compares to the Headless Horseman. 

Ichabod (scared): A man with no head, riding on a horse? 

Hans: Yes. They say he was a soldier who lost his head in the war. 

Ida: Every night, his body rides around looking for its head. 

Brouwer: I once saw him on the road. He chased me and pulled me up onto his horse. 

Ichabod (shivering): Oh my!

Brouwer: We reached the old bridge and the Horseman turned into a skeleton. Then he threw me into the creek. 

N2: Brom strides over. 

Brom: I too have seen the Headless Horseman.

Jansen: What happened? 

Brom: I raced him. And just as we came to the old church bridge, he disappeared. 

Martha: They say he can’t go past that bridge. 

Brom (looking at Ichabod): So if you see the Horseman, ride for the bridge. If you can reach the bridge, you will be safe.


Storyteller: Ichabod left the party after midnight. As he was riding home on his horse, ghost stories filled his head.

N3: The horse trots along. 

N1: The night grows darker. 

N2: Suddenly, something appears in the shadows. 

Ichabod: Who’s there? 

N3: He sees a large figure sitting on a big black horse.

Ichabod: I s-s-s-say, who are you? Who’s there?

N1: There is no response. 

N2: Ichabod kicks his horse and they take off into the night. 

N3: He looks back. He is terrified by what he sees chasing him. 

All: The Headless Horseman! 

N1: A fiery jack-o’-lantern hangs at the rider’s side.  

Ichabod: That’s . . . his head! 

N2: Ichabod’s horse races toward the old church bridge. They are nearly there.

Ichabod: Faster, faster! Brom said if we can make it to the bridge, we’ll be safe.

N3: As they race over the bridge, Ichabod turns around. He expects the Headless Horseman to disappear.

N1: Instead, he sees the Horseman raise an arm and throw its fiery head . . . at him!

Ichabod: Aaaaahhhhh!

Art by Gary Hanna

Ghost of the War
This tale takes place in 1790. America was a brand-new country. It had just won its freedom from Great Britain in the American Revolution. Many ghost stories written during this time had to do with losses suffered during the war. 


Storyteller: Ichabod Crane was never seen again. Months later, the villagers still talked about that terrible night.

Van Ripper (sadly): That poor man. His horse came home, but he did not!

Martha: And his body was never found. What a shame!

Jansen: Did you know that his hat was found near the old church bridge? A smashed pumpkin lay next to it! 

N2: Brom Bones chuckles. 

Ida: Poor Ichabod. I think he died of fright.

Hans: I heard he just got scared and ran out of town. 

Brouwer: What do you think, Brom? 

Brom (smiling): I think it’s clear that the Headless Horseman took care of him. 

Storyteller: Me? I don’t know what to believe. But soon after Ichabod disappeared, Brom and Katrina got married. 

N3: Brom winks at the audience.

Storyteller: If Brom Bones knew more about what really happened to Ichabod, he sure wasn’t telling. 


Andrew Howe/Getty Images 

Meet the Author

Washington Irving (1783-1859) was born at the end of the American Revolution. He was one of America’s first famous writers.

You've just read "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Now it’s time to try this activity. 

Tip: An inference is something that is not stated but can be figured out from clues in the text.

What to do: Imagine that you are Brom Bones, a few days after Ichabod disappeared. You’re writing in your journal. Make inferences to complete each sentence below. For clues, go back and look at the play. 

Dear Diary,

       When I first met Ichabod Crane, I thought he was just 

Hint: Look in Scene 3 for clues.

But when I saw Katrina dancing with him, I could tell she thought he was 

Hint: Look in Scene 5 for clues.

I wanted Ichabod gone, because 

Hint: Look in Scenes 4 and 5 for clues.

His fear of ghosts made it easy to  

Hint: Look in Scenes 7 and 8 for clues.

—Brom Bones

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