If you’re planning a camping trip with the kids—whether it’s in the forest or backyard camping—picture this scene: Everyone is gathered around the roaring campfire. The marshmallows have been roasted, the campfire songs have been sung, and the crickets are chirping. What better time to whip out the flashlight and share some ghost stories?
Here are 21 not-so-scary ghost stories and spooky stories for kids of all ages. For more family fun while camping, check out our list of 17 camping games to play with kids.
Poor Jasper cannot get rid of his Creepy Pair of Underwear! Photo courtesy of Simon & Schuster
Not-So-Spooky Ghost Stories for Little Kids
1. Creepy Pair of Underwear!
This book, authored by Aaron Reynolds, is both funny and just scary enough for little ones. It takes a usual trope—the unwanted item that keeps coming back—and gives it a little humor by making it a pair of underwear. Jasper the rabbit digs a giant hole, mails the pair away and throws them in the garbage, but the underwear keeps coming back.
2. Rap, Rap, Rap!
This story is based on an old folktale. An old woman buys a house that is rumored to be haunted. At night, she keeps hearing a sound: rap, rap, rap. She investigates the house as the noise gets louder and louder, until finally finding it and revealing it was just wrapping paper.
3. The Ghost of the Bloody Finger
A ghost with a bloody finger terrorizes a man staying in a haunted house. With each phrase, “I am the ghost of the bloody finger,” he gets closer and closer. Eventually, he enters the bedroom, where the young man is sleeping. Then he asks for a Band-Aid. The punchline takes away from the spookiness of the story.
4. The Coffin
This is another story with a fun, punch-line ending. Walking home late at night, a young man passes a cemetery when a coffin begins to follow him. The coffin follows the man all the way home, until finally the man grabs some cough syrup and tosses it at the coffin, stopping it. The story uses sound effects and a play on words to keep it light.
5. Dem Bones
Dem Bones is a spooky story about a skeletal pirate crew. Captain Kidd leads his band of pirates to the shore, where they dig up their old treasure chests, dance, and tell tall tales throughout the night. This is one of those ghost stories that will also make little ones laugh!
6. The Hash Slinging Slasher
From the episode “Graveyard Shift” of SpongeBob SquarePants, this spooky story is seemingly made up by Squidward to scare SpongeBob. When events of Squidward’s story start to come true, both SpongeBob and Squidward fear the Hash Slinging Slasher is all too real. In the end, it’s just a fish looking for a job at the Krusty Krab. This is a fun and easy story to re-tell.
7. The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
A favorite amongst preschoolers, this book by Linda Williams tells the story of an old woman who, while walking in the woods, runs into seemingly haunted articles of clothing. The clothing pieces—and a pumpkin head—chase her back to her house. In the end, she uses the haunted pieces to make a scarecrow for her garden.
Related: 100 Kids’ Books Every Child Should Read Before They Grow Up
This fun story will only scare kids a teeny tiny bit!
8. The Teeny Tiny Woman
A teeny tiny woman is haunted by an unknown presence who wants the woman’s teeny tiny bone for her teeny tiny soup. Little kids enjoy this not-so-scary story with it’s fun alliteration.
9. The Thing at the Foot of the Bed
In the dark of the night, an old man is convinced there is something lurking at the end of his bed. In fear, he grabs his gun … only to shoot off his own toe. Whoops!
10. The Ghostly Maid
After losing his wife, a father moves into a new house with his son. Feeling thirsty, the son goes downstairs, finds their maid, and asks for a glass of water. When the boy tells his father the story the next day, his father tells him they don’t have a maid. Time to leave!
Some ghost stories just have a little something extra, and onomatopoeia is what makes this one so great. A man hears a bunch of descriptive noises that increasingly spook him, until one final sound—a scream.
The Hook is scary urban legend about a boyfriend and girlfriend who park on Lover’s Lane one night….
Ghost Stories and Spooky Stories for Kids Who Like Scares
12. The Hook
A young couple are at a secluded, romantic spot on a date. They are cuddling when an announcement comes over the radio saying an inmate with a hook hand has escaped the asylum. The girl wants to leave, but the boy doesn’t. Finally, he obliges. When he drops her off at home, he discovers a hook hanging off the passenger-door handle.
13. The Flying Dutchman
Pirates of the Caribbean and SpongeBob fans may recognize this name. The Flying Dutchman is the ghost ship, and crew, that is cursed to sail the seas until Judgement Day, never to dock or set foot on land.
14. The Hitchhiker
A pair of young boys on their way to a dance see a young girl hitchhiking. They pick her up and bring her to the dance. She borrows one of the boys’ coats and forgets to give it back. The next day, the boys return it to her house, only to find out she had died on the road they first picked her up on.
15. Clap, Clap!
A couple are hiking in the woods when the suddenly become lost. They enter an abandoned cabin where red paint drips from the walls and it sounds as though someone is outside. The story gets scarier as the unknown outside haunter begins to communicate by clapping.
16. The Fifty-Cent Piece
This story is set in Victorian New England, but it can easily be updated by swapping out the carriage for a car and a 50-cent piece for 50 dollars. A couple seeks shelter for the night, only to find out the next day that the house and family they stayed with had burned down years ago. When they return to the house, all that is left is rubble and the 50-cent piece they had left on the table.
17. The Emerald Ring
A woman tragically dies on her wedding day, so instead of a wedding, there’s a funeral. The priest takes note of the expensive emerald ring the woman is to be buried with and attempts to steal it. Unable to pry it from her finger, he chops it off. Her eyes shoot open, and she goes after the priest. It turns out she is not dead, but was just in a coma.
18. The Ribbon
There are multiple variations on this story, but the main premise is the same—a young girl never takes off the ribbon around her neck. Her boyfriend, who becomes her husband, is always curious about the ribbon and wants to remove it. In the end, when the ribbon is untied, the woman’s head falls off.
19. Love Test
Suitors always run away screaming from this seemingly perfect, beautiful girl. She has all of her would-be boyfriends perform a love test, which consists of eating something that will be sure to spook the older kids.
20. Dancing Dead
This will send chills down listeners’ spines. A young girl comes across a group of ghosts dancing to no music. A ghost boy warns her to run. If they catch up to her, she will become one of them. She runs, but she’s not fast enough. The next day she awakes in her own bed, but ends up dying. She can hear the music and begins to dance.
21. Two Heads
This one is for the bigger kids, because the end joke may go over little ones’ heads. A taxi driver picks up a mysterious passenger with rotten-smelling luggage. The passenger behaves more and more erratically as the ride to the airport goes on. The twist ending makes this story extra fun.
Unless noted, photos by Mommy Poppins
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