As October 31 nears, kids are sure to make sure they have picked out their costumes and are trick-or-treating-ready. There's lots more to do to celebrate spooky season with your family too, from parties (complete with plenty of Halloween games) and fall festivals to pumpkin patches and haunted houses to venture to, and it's fun to stay home and watch kids Halloween movies while munching on some of the best Halloween candy too. And don't forget the ghost stories for kids!
These kid-friendly scary tales are best told around the campfire or with the lights out for full effect, and you can tell our short versions below or click on the links for longer ones.
Each of these 10 ghost stories for kids are sure to bring on some goosebumps but hopefully not keep anyone from sleeping. So read on for some some spooktacular stories to tell all season long, and perhaps get passed on in future years.
A little gory, slightly spooky, this is a story about a bloody finger inching ever closer to a man spending the night alone in a haunted house. It ends with a joke, however, so all that tension is released with a good giggle. For extra fun, be sure to use a sinister voice for the ghost, making it louder and scarier the closer he gets—right up until the last line, when asks for a Band-Aid. Then, he can sound as congenial as Casper the Friendly Ghost.
Also known as The Hairy Toe, this is a classic story about an old woman who finds a toe in the woods and, depending on the version, eats it (ewwww) or puts it in glass jar. The tale gets creepier as the toe's very large owner comes looking for it, but the fantasy/folklore feel of it helps keeps things light, as does the ending. Children of all ages should be able to enjoy this fable without getting too frightened.
More of a play on parental worries about ball pits than a story addressing any kids' concerns (come on, do you think they fret about those things being a bacteria factory the way we do?), "The Ball Pit" is really an urban legend instead of a proper ghost story. But while it may have kids pondering the potential hidden dangers in their favorite play space for a moment or two, the silly ending will get everyone laughing.
Most kids love a good play on words, and this uncanny story about a coffin chasing a man all the way from the cemetery to his bathroom ends with the king daddy of all puns. As you tell the tale, be sure to emphasize the scary BUMP BUMP BUMP sound the coffin makes as it clomps down the street following the poor fellow. You might even want to have a bottle of cough syrup ready to hold up, too, showing what the man throws to stop the coffin. (They'll love it. Trust us.)
Spooky to be sure, this long-told-tale revolves around a married couple and the yellow ribbon the woman wears around her neck, which she refuses to remove. Various versions have him untying it while she's sleeping, or the wife allowing her husband to take it off, but it all ends the same way: with her losing her head—and we don't mean metaphorically.
This rollicking ghost story has everything kids love: pirates, hidden treasure, and rowdy, glowing skeletons. The legend goes that on one dark night, the infamous buccaneer Captain Kidd and his crew showed up on the coast, burying their ill-gotten gains on a quiet stretch of sandy land. The treasure was never seen again—except on certain evenings, when the phantom pirates sail in to unearth it once more, celebrating by singing, dancing jigs and telling tales about their days sailing the high seas.
A parable about greed, this story set in the late 18th-century actually has a happy ending, well...for some of the characters. The story involves a woman, believed dead, a vicar who steals her emerald ring, and the bad end that comes to him. The only ghost in this story is the one the woman's husband believes her to be, but that's doesn't mean this story isn't spooky.
If you're hosting a gathering of older kids, this is the urban legend for you. Like "The Lady with the Emerald Ring" and "Yellow Ribbon," you can have fun stretching the story out, building the suspense the longer it goes. The story of a couple who park in Lover's Lane, ignoring reports of an escaped killer from a local asylum, it ends with the kind of scare that will have kids jumping out of the their sleeping bags.
Short and (not quite so) sweet, this is a cautionary tale for little ones about an old man who awakens in terror at the thing he sees lurking at the foot of his bed. He takes drastic action instead of investigating, much to his regret. Both spooky and amusing, this story could help kids understand that the scary things at night they think they see in their closet and under the bed are just figments of their imagination.
Not all ghosts are scary. Some just want to be helpful, like the spirits in this story, who host a husband and wife too tired to continue their travels. The pair leave a coin as thanks the next morning, but soon hear the truth about the old couple from neighboring villagers. Eerie rather than disturbing, this story can be told to all ages.
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