When you are away from the city, camping in the woods with your family and friends, it is fun to have a good collection of short and scary ghost stories for kids. You can sing songs together, binge on food, stargaze and do various other exciting activities under the sky. But a bonfire at night without ghost stories feels sort of incomplete. These eerie stories must have the right amount of spookiness and suspense to set the mood right and give goosebumps. Or else, your children might not become fully vested in it.
So if you are looking for such frightening stories to share on your camping night, this post is for you. Read on for a collection of exciting and creepy spine tingling ghost stories for children, a perfect blend of drama and spookiness.
20 Ghost Stories For Kids
1. The Ghost of the Bloody Finger
There was an old abandoned house in a small town that was considered haunted. And so, everyone stayed away from it. One man came forward, saying he is brave enough to spend the night alone in the house. As he prepares to go to bed in the haunted house, he hears a ghostly voice, “I am the ghost of the bloody finger! I am in the front hall.”
The man thinks it could be his imagination, and the sound could be of a howling wind. But the voice gets progressively louder as the ghost inches closer to him. “I am in the front hall,” is followed by, “I’m at the bottom of the stairs,”and then,“I’m at the top of the stairs.” Next, he hears the door creak. He covers his head with the blanket in fear. After a few minutes, the voice gently and sociably says, “I am the ghost of the bloody finger! Do you have a band-aid, young man?”
2. The Big Toe
Once upon a time, an old woman found a big toe in the woods. She goes home and puts the toe in a stew and has the best meal in weeks. Unfortunately, around midnight, the toe’s rather large and hairy owner comes to claim his toe. She hears the stomping sounds of heavy footsteps in her garden and the voice of a moaning creature saying, “Hairy toe! Hairy toe! I want my hair-r-r-ry toe!”
The voice gets louder and louder. Finally, she sees a massive phantasmal creature in her doorway. Terrified, she shouts out, “I ate your hairy toe!” The giant comes into the room and says softly, “I know you did.”
No one saw the old woman ever again, and apart from footprints with a missing big toe in her garden, there were no clues of her disappearance.
3. The Ball Pit
A mother takes her three-year-old son out to lunch. Then he goes off to play in “the ball pit.” After about ten minutes, he emerges, wailing, and complaining of pain. She rushes him to the ER to discover he has been bitten by a snake (of all things!). The next day, she returns to the restaurant to complain about the snake bite to the manager. The manager tells her she should consider herself lucky as a child got eaten by a shark in the ball pit last week!
One night, a man crosses the local cemetery while walking back home. As he passes the gates, he hears a sound, but he doesn’t dare to turn around. The bumping noise follows him, and then he stops to look back. He finds a coffin coming down the road, bumping from side to side!
The coffin clunks along, going “BUMP BUMP BUMP” and follows him to his house. He hides in the bathroom. When the coffin bursts into the bathroom, he grabs the first thing he can find—a bottle of cough syrup. He throws it at the coffin, and the “coffin” stops!
5. Yellow Ribbon
Jane, a young lady, always wears a yellow ribbon around her neck. She never tells anyone, not even her husband, why she wears it. One day, when she is on her deathbed, her husband asks her one last time about it. She agrees to let him see for himself. He nervously unties the yellow ribbon with his trembling hands and is horrified to find his wife losing her head.
6. Dem Bones
Set in New Jersey, the lore tells about the notorious pirate Captain Kidd and his crew, who buried their stolen loot in a secluded stretch of land on the Jersey coast while escaping from the law. The valuables disappeared overnight, never to be found despite the effort of many treasure hunters. And then appeared Dem Bones!
Dem Bones are the glowing skeletons of Captain Kidd and his mates, who return on a certain night. They carry heavy trunks full of their treasure and scatter them all around the place. A phantom fire is lit, and they celebrate by dancing, singing, and exchanging stories about their high sea sailing days.
7. The Lady with the Emerald Ring
A woman became deathly sick the night before Halloween. Before the doctor could reach her, she dies. Her husband fails to attend the funeral due to grief. The vicar buries her.
This greedy vicar decides to cut off her finger and steal the emerald ring in the dead of night. And there comes a twist. The woman was in a coma and not dead. She jumps out of the coffin due to the pain caused by the severing of the finger.
It scares the vicar out of his wits. He runs for his life and falls into a ditch. The woman goes back to her husband, who thinks she is the ghost of his wife. The woman tells her husband the whole story, and they live happily.
8. The Hook
A young girl gets to know that a killer from the state asylum is on the loose. The man is known to have a hook in the place of his right hand. The girl pays no heed and is worried about her outfit for her date. But when she hears the announcement again on the car radio, warning everyone about the Hookman, she gets scared.
She and her date are parked on a secluded path when she finds the car shaking. She requests her date to take her back home. The moment she gets out of the car, she screams, seeing a bloody hook hanging from the car door handle!
9. The Thing at the Foot of the Bed
An old man stayed up late one night watching a horror movie. He finds something sneaking from the foot of his bed. It looked like two big eyes staring at him. He takes a rash step of shooting at it without investigating, only to discover his big toe is gone!
10. Fifty-Cent Piece
A couple traveling home from a faraway place looks for shelter to spend the night. They find an old house where an old couple welcomes them, feeds them, and gives them a bed to sleep in. The travelers leave a fifty-pence coin in return for the hospitality.
The next morning, a restaurant owner in the next town tells them that the house they are talking about was destroyed in a fire, and Mr. and Mrs. Brown died in it. They return to see for themselves and are shocked to find the dilapidated shell of a house. Suddenly, the wife screams and faints. When the husband turns around, he finds the fifty-pence coin lying on a burnt table!
11. Magic Castle
Once upon a time, there lived a curious woman who strayed off her path while taking her dog for a walk. While she was strolling around, she found a castle in the woods. She saw a message in green slime on the wall “Do not go to the magic castle at midnight.” The curious woman decided to go that very night. Every step of the way, she saw messages in slime “Do not enter” and “Do not go one step further.” But that did not stop her until she reached a dark room with a coffin. Paying no heed to the final message, “Do not open this coffin,” she slowly opened the lid. Filled with terror, she looked inside. Guess what she found? Many colorful Smarties!
12. Ghost Ship of Captain Sandovate
The treacherous sailors aboard a Spanish treasure ship decide to revolt against their captain, Don Sandovate. They torture the captain by not giving him water. He dehydrates to death. But soon, the evil sailors meet a sorry fate in a terrible storm that sinks the ship with the body of the captain tied to the mast.
Legend has it that a haunted ghost ship can be seen along the Atlantic coast with skeletons crying out for water to this day!
13. The Open Window
Little Vera spins an ominous yarn to her uncle about why she leaves the window in her home. She tells him that her aunt (who died long ago) sits by the window in the evenings and waits for her uncle and cousins to come home. With her imaginative storytelling skills, she succeeds in giving him the fright of his life, and he runs off. When her cousins ask her why their dad exited in such haste, she tells them another made-up tale about her uncle and his fear of dogs.
14. The Knife in the Grave
Two young girls are exchanging ghost stories on a Halloween night. A story about stabbing a knife in a grave on an October night leads them to make a bet. One of the girls ventures out to the cemetery with a knife to prove how brave she is. But she dies of fright when the knife she stabs in the grave catches the hem of her nightgown. She thought the skeleton from the grave had reached out to grab her.
15. Golden Hand
A greedy man marries a woman with a golden hand to get possession of the solid gold for himself. He decides to poison her and succeeds in burying her minus the golden hand. The green apparition of his wife comes back to claim her hand. In the morning, he is found dead with the golden hand around his neck.
16. The Pink Jellybean
Once upon a time, there was a dark town.
In that dark town, there was a dark neighborhood.
In the dark neighborhood, there was a long dark road.
At the end of the dark road, there was a lonely dark house.
In the dark house, there was a dark room.
In the dark room, there was a narrow, dark closet.
In the dark closet, there was a small dark box.
And in that dark box, there was a Pink Jellybean!
17. Tommy Knockers
Tommy Knockers are the spirits of deceased miners who look out for miners by showing them the ore and protecting them from cave-ins. One unfortunate miner, Eddie, becomes the target of the Tommy Knockers. They pelt him with stones, steal his tools, and blow out his lantern. He can’t figure out why he is getting tormented until he hears the voice calling him from a shaft, “Give me back my five dollars, Eddie.”
It is his friend, Joe’s ghost, who has been haunting to get his five dollars back. Eddie refuses to give Joe his five dollars. But all day long, he is plagued by the Tommy Knocker; his ladder is shaken until he almost falls off and hears a loud drilling sound. Eventually, troubled by Joe’s shenanigans, Eddie ends up returning the money to Joe, the Tommy Knocker.
18. The Underpants
There was once a man who always wore two pairs of underpants. When he died, his wife buried him with only one pair of underpants. After the funeral, the man’s ghost kept coming back at the stroke of every midnight. The woman moved houses many times in the hope of getting away from the ghost. But, he followed her wherever she went. Eventually, she couldn’t take it anymore, so she asked him, “What do you want from me? Why do you keep coming back?” He looked at her for a long time and said, “Honey, please give me another pair of underpants.” She gave him another pair of underpants, and since that day, he never returned.
19. Room For One More
There was once a young woman who had just started a new job. One day, on her way to work, a hearse crosses her, and a gory looking driver pops out to ask her, “Do you need a ride?” He points to the coffin at the back and says, “Room for one more.” She refuses the lift but is disturbed all day by the thought of the strange man in the hearse. On her way out of the building, at the end of the day, she waits for the elevator.
When it comes, the elevator is almost full, so she hesitates before stepping in. Suddenly, she hears a familiar spooky voice saying, “room for one more,” and she sees the hearse driver from the morning eyeing her with his horrible gaze. She backs away and takes the stairs. Just a few steps down, and she hears a terrible crash. On reaching downstairs, she discovers the cable on the elevator snapped, and all the passengers plunged to a gruesome death!
20. Cow’s Head
A girl named Oksana is ill-treated by her stepmother and step-sister. They make her do all the housework. When they run out of money, they banish her to a cottage deep in the woods. One night, in the woods, she hears a loud knocking on the door. Terrified of monsters in the woods, she opens the door with a branch in her hand. She is horrified to find a demon with no body but only a cow’s head at her doorstep. The cow’s head tells her to place him near the fire and do all kinds of service.
Kind Oksana shares her food and her blanket with him. In the morning, she finds the cow’s head is gone. Instead, she finds a trunk filled with beautiful gowns, gold, and jewels. That day, her father comes to take her home. When her stepmother sees all the riches, she also goes into the woods in the hope of getting rich. But since she is too lazy to be kind to the cow’s head, all her gowns and possessions turn to dust. Oksana lived a long healthy life with happiness and prosperity.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are horror stories appropriate for middle schoolers?
Yes, middle schoolers (ages 11-13) may watch or read age-appropriate horror stories consisting of minimal to no gore, preferably with friendship and supernatural themes (1) (2). However, some middle schoolers may be ready for horror stories, while others may be more sensitive to such material and it may lead to an unnerving experience. So it is essential to assess their maturity level and preview the story before taking a call.
2. Why do children like scary stories?
There are several reasons why children might enjoy scary stories. First, they can provide a sense of thrill and excitement. Scary stories can also help children to feel brave as they face their fears. Additionally, they may enjoy the suspense and mystery of scary stories and the opportunity to try to solve puzzles and riddles.
3. What are the benefits of telling children scary ghost stories?
Scary stories provide children with entertainment and teach them that it is normal to be afraid. They can help them to recognize danger and find ways and courage to face it. These stories also educate them about different cultures of the world.
4. How have scary ghost stories evolved over time?
Ghost stories have been in existence since ancient times. They can be found in different cultures and countries all over the world. Each culture has its own lore and traditions of ghost stories, which is why the stories find relevance to this day.
5. How do different cultures approach telling ghost stories to children?
Different cultures have different ways of telling ghost stories to children. Usually, these stories are intertwined with folklore, spirituality, supernatural experiences, and magic. Some cultures also see ghost stories as a means of fun and entertainment.
6. What elements should be considered when telling ghost stories to children?
Some basic elements to include while telling ghost stories to children are a scary setting or haunting atmosphere, creepy characters, supernatural creatures, and plot twists. However, ensure you don’t go overboard with your narration to the extent that the children are petrified and disturbed.
7. Is it okay for parents to allow their children to watch horror movies?
Your children may have fun watching scary movies, but it is generally recommended they avoid watching horror movies as they may lead to nightmares and sleeping troubles. It is essential to check movie ratings before allowing children to watch them. Even if you allow them, make sure at least one adult is present with your child when they watch a horror movie.
Short and scary ghost stories for kids are fun, especially when you are on a camping trip. Some popular ghost stories are the ghost of the bloody finger, the ball pit, the big toe, the yellow ribbon, the coffin, and the dem bones. These fiction stories can make your child’s camping night exciting and memorable. However, don’t scare them too much. Assemble all the children in the camp and enact these stories to make them more engaging. You may share the spooky stories that could evoke a little scare but avoid telling terrifying ones.
- Make your kids’ vacation and weekend nights memorable by sharing spooky ghost stories with them.
- The Big Toe, The Hook, and Magic Castle are some popular stories.
- Keep the stories light, and do not frighten the children.
Watch this video for 8 spine-chilling ghost stories that will make your hair stand on end. Don’t turn off the lights!
- School-Age Resources;
- Horror Movies You Can Watch With Your 11-Year-Old;