Top 23 Scary Stories to Tell Your Kids

Top 23 Scary Stories to Tell Your Kids

Bedtime stories are a beautiful part of childhood. As kids, we have lived all those amazing tales of courage, adventure, thrills and fun, but the ones which remain etched in our memories are the scary tales for children our parents and grandparents told us.



Now as parents, you would love to narrate tales to your own kids, but a little bit of caution is required. Here is a handy guide to help you weave some fascinating night stories for kids and make them memorable.





Horror Stories for Kids

Caution: These short horror stories are not meant for very young children who could be frightened more than they should be.

Horror Stories for Kids

1. The Hook

Age Recommendation: 8 years and above




It was dark when a teenager and his girlfriend stopped at a lonely and secluded Lover’s lane to spend some time alone. The car radio was broadcasting warnings about an escaped criminal called “The Hook”, nicknamed so because of the hook that replaced his right hand. Scared, both the boy and the girl leave the place in a rush when the car begins shaking. When both reach a nearby coffee shop, the girl notices a blood-covered hook hanging from the back seat window.

How to Tell: – Create enough drama around the fact that the couple was saved because they rushed out quickly and the fact that the hook was left hanging, suggesting that “The Hook” was nearby.





2. The Candy Man

Age Recommendation: 8 years and above

Daniel was a poor man who worked at the local candy factory. Since he was a talented artist too, the factory owner hired him to paint his daughter Rose’s portrait. Daniel and Rose fell in love with each other which invited the wrath of Rose’s father and the town dwellers, and they tortured and beat him till he died. Daniel is long dead, but his tortured soul did not leave the world. Legend says that even today if you call out the name “Candyman” five times, Daniel’s ghost will come to haunt you.




How to Tell: Build interest around why the kids should not call out the word “Candyman” five times and its repercussions. Keep it simple yet interesting for the kids to connect.

3. The 13th Floor

Age Recommendation: 8 years and above





As the legend goes, there is a haunted home in the city of Pennsylvania. Many years ago, invitations were sent out to people asking them to attend a Halloween party here, and Jack and Mary were amongst the invitees. The home consisted of a maze of identical passages and staircases, all leading to the 13th floor. Most people never made it to the 13th floor, scared by people dressed up as ghosts and ghouls. But Jack and Mary made it to the 13th floor despite all this. But we do not know what they found out on this floor as they were never seen after that fateful party.

How to Tell: Make use of voice modulations to convey the fears and scariness of the guests and dramatise the ending with a low voice.




4. The Clown

Age Recommendation: 8 years and above

This story is about a family that moved into a huge house with a large number of rooms. A few days later, the two little boys of the couple began complaining about a clown coming into their room at night, but the father did not take it seriously. When a young girl came to babysit the kids while the parents were out, she went to the basement to watch TV after the kids went to sleep. She became uncomfortable because of the clown statue near the door and called the parents to ask if she could watch TV in the hall. The father told her to leave the house immediately and wait with the neighbours. The girl later came to know that the family never had a clown statue in their home.





How to Tell: Use a low voice to build up the eeriness when the babysitter watches the clown statue standing near the door and how the girl leaves the house with the two kids and play on the urgency.

5. The Flying Dutchman

Age Recommendation: 10 years and above




Way back in 1961, a ship from Holland, called the Flying Dutchman was on its voyage and was near the Cape of Good Hope when the captain saw that they were in the path of a massive storm. With the help of the crew, the ship managed to steer clear of the storm but not for long, and it began to sink. The captain screamed at the storm that he would keep going around the cape in circles until time immortal if that’s what it took. If you are caught in a storm near the Cape of Good Hope, you can still see the Flying Dutchman and his crew sailing into the storm.

How to Tell: Dramatize the storm, powerful winds and rains to give the story a real feel. Talk like the captain did and you will have your kids hooked on the story.





6. The Stare

Age Recommendation: 10 years and above

A young girl was travelling by train one late night. There were two old men sitting across her, and an old woman sitting between them, kept staring at her in a weird way. The train stopped at a station and a man, wearing a trench coat, stepped in and sat next to her. The young girl still felt the old woman staring at her continuously while the two old men were least bothered. When the train halted at the next stop, the man in the trench coat grabbed the girl and pushed her on to the station. When the girl began to scream, the man said, ”I am sorry, but I just saved your life, as the old woman was dead and the old men were propping her up”.




How to Tell: Paint a villainous image of the man in the trench coat and build up suspense until the end when he pulls the girl to safety.

7. Hide and Seek

Age Recommendation: 8 years and above


This story is about two brothers who were playing hide and seek in their home while their parents were visiting their friends nearby. As the older boy turned towards the wall and began counting, he heard his brother scampering around searching for a place to hide. He searched everywhere but couldn’t locate his brother, when he heard a scraping sound from the cupboard. He called out to his younger brother but there was no response; only an eerie silence. He opened the cupboard slowly and bent down to peer closer, when a white, icy cold hand pulled him back. He then heard his younger brother calling out to him from behind, and frightened, the boy tried to break free from the grip of the icy cold hand. Both the brothers then rushed out of the room and out of the house, screaming. What if the hand had pulled the boy inside the cupboard?

How to Tell: Dramatise the scraping sound and the silence that follows. Ask the question “What if…..” in a monotone and see the reaction.

8. The Vanishing Hitchhiker

Age Recommendation: 6 years and above

As my Uncle Sam was driving down the highway one late rainy night, he saw a young girl wearing a pretty dress, asking to be dropped off to a nearby place. Uncle Sam was kind and dropped her off to her home, chatting and talking throughout the ride. The next day, he realised that the girl had forgotten her sweater in the car and went to her home to return it. An old lady greeted him at the door and when Uncle Sam narrated how he had met the young girl, the old woman said” I don’t think that’s possible since my daughter died many years ago while she was returning home after a party”.


How to Tell: Emphasize on the old woman’s revelation about her daughter being dead and bring the story to a dramatic end.

9. The Big Toe

Age Recommendation: 10 years and above

A woman lived in a large house all alone. One day while she was working in her garden, she found a large hairy toe under a flower bed, brought it inside and kept it in a glass jar. That night, when she was getting ready to sleep, she heard the wind howling through the windows and a hoarse voice asking “Where is my toe?” The entire house was shaking when she heard the voice asking the same question. To finish, ask the question once again in a low, eerie voice and suddenly jump up and point at your audience and say “You’ve got it!”

How to Tell: Keep your voice low throughout the story and give it a dramatic finish as you say “You’ve got it!” in a loud voice.


10. The Old Television

A couple lived with their only son in a house on the outskirts of the city of Spain. The boy’s room had an old television which he would ask to be covered with a cloth every night as he went to sleep. One day, the father asked the boy why he wanted the TV covered at night. The boy said ”Because that’s where they come from”. The parents ignored the comment, thinking it was his imagination. One night, the parents had to go out, so they hired a baby sitter to stay with their son. When they returned late night, they found the babysitter sitting outside the home, mumbling, “They took him away.” Confused the parents rushed into the boy’s room and found that the television cover was off and the boy was gone.

How to Tell: Pause briefly when you are near the end and use a hushed tone to say “The boy was gone”.

Horror Stories for Kids - The Old Television

Caution: Use words like ‘torture’ and ‘killing’ with care, while sparing grisly details of death if you find the audience getting spooked.

Funny Ghost Stories for Kids

Here are a few funny ghost stories which will have your audience in splits even as a chill runs down their spine!


1. Hitchhiker

Age Recommendation: 8 years and above

A man was standing on a lonely highway on a dark rainy night, waiting to hitch a ride back home. After a long time, he saw a car approaching him very slowly and silently, suddenly stopping before him. Desperate to get home, the man jumped into the car, only to realise that there was no one in the car, not even the driver. As the car approached a bend, a hand appeared out of nowhere and steered the car over the bend safely. Scared the man jumped off the car and ran all the way to the nearest coffee shop. As he entered the shop, a couple of guys shouted at him, ”Hey! Here’s the idiot who jumped into our car while we were pushing it over the hill”.

How to Tell: Create a lot of drama and suspense in the initial part only to give it a funny twist at the end of the story.

2. The Cursed Doll

Age Recommendation: 6 years and above

A young girl was extremely fond of dolls and had a huge collection of a variety of dolls at home. Once while she was browsing at a toy store, she found the most beautiful doll ever and was keen to add it to her collection. When she asked the store owner, she was told that the doll was cursed. But the girl insisted, and the owner reluctantly sold it to her. When she reached her home, she got into the elevator, and the doors closed behind her. The lift did not move, and the girl began wondering if this was because of the cursed doll. Suddenly the doll moved, turned her jet black eyes towards her and opened her mouth to say, “Push the floor button, you silly fool.”

How to Tell: Bring the story to a crescendo, especially as the girl gets into the elevator and it doesn’t move. Use your funniest voice to speak like a doll would and watch the kids erupt with laughter.

3. The Cemetery Gates

Age Recommendation: 6 years and above

One dark night, a policeman was given the duty to guard a section that consisted of an old cemetery. As he went on his rounds and approached the cemetery, he noticed that the gates were open and he also heard rustling noises in the dark. He suddenly saw something white rushing towards him. Panicking, he drew his gun and fired a few shots at it. The next day, the policeman was found dead outside the cemetery with his gun in one hand, and his hand clutched to his heart. The poor fellow had suffered a massive heart attack and an old newspaper with bullet holes in it lay fluttering nearby.

How to Tell: Emphasize on how panic and assumptions can lead to such fatal incidents. Create an eerie feeling while describing the cemetery and the rustling noises.

4. Fear of the Dead

Age Recommendation: 10 years and above

It was especially dark that night when a young woman was walking back home from work, her route having a cemetery on the way. As she came near the cemetery gates, she began to shake and tremble with fear. Suddenly, she saw a man walking just ahead of her, and she was relieved. The young woman caught up with him and asked him to walk with her to her home. As they came near the cemetery, the girl told him that she was terribly afraid of the dead. The man looked at her, smiled and said: ”Why should you be afraid of us?”

How to Tell: Make sure you create enough eerie feelings about the cemetery and the night. The last question should be asked with a maniacal smile.

5. Who’s the Boss?

A young girl went to a summer camp during her school vacation. This girl was extremely bossy and hence was an unpopular figure amongst the other students. Tired of her selfish nature, the students complained to the organisers and asked them to move the girl to another cabin. No one knew that the cabin that girl was moved into, was a haunted one. Just before going to sleep, the girl scribbled on the wall “I am the Boss”. As the lights were switched off, the girl felt a pair of hands creep up to her neck and slowly strangled her.

The next day when the organisers came looking for her, they found her dead. Just above the earlier scribbling were written the ominous words “No, I am the Boss”.

How to Tell: Keep your audience interested in what happens next by narrating the girl’s night in the cabin in a slow and deliberate manner.

True Ghost Stories for Kids

True Ghost Stories

Caution: You don’t want to put the excessive fear in your child’s heart so tread carefully around those parts of the story that contain graphic violence or depicts the same.

1. The Army of the Dead

Age Recommendation: 8 years and above

A laundress and her husband had recently shifted to a new city and were just settling down. The laundress would hear heavy footsteps outside the window every night and decided to ask her neighbour about it. She told the laundress that a large number of soldiers had died in the nearby hospital during the war and they marched off every night to fight the enemies.

That night when the laundress heard the marching sound, she opened the window and saw a dreadful sight. It was the army of the dead soldiers walking like zombies with horses, cannons and ambulances following them.

How to Tell: Give a detailed description of the zombie army, their looks and the way they would walk. Give a small demo if possible too.

2. The Maid

Age Recommendation: 10 years and above

A widowed man and his little son moved into their new home in a faraway town. Their large spacious house was known to be haunted, but the man did not believe it when the locals told him that. While the kid was exploring the house, he reached the kitchen and saw the maid working there. She told him that there could be ghosts in the house and he had to be careful.

The young child then went to his father’s study and asked him if the house had ghosts in it. The father asked, “Who has been telling you all this?” The child replied “Our maid.” The father immediately asked him to pack their bags. When the son asked why, the father replied, “We do not have a maid, son!”

How to Tell: Slow your pace when you near the end and pause in dramatic fashion just before the father tells the boy that they do not have a maid.

3. Mr Sullivan

Age Recommendation: 10 years and above

One day, a man named John Sullivan was walking down the road. He did not remember what place this was and how he got there. He saw a woman and he walked up to her to ask about the place. One look at him and the woman screamed and ran away. Even the taxi driver whom he wanted to hire, did not wait for him. Tired of this, the man went to a public phone and called up his wife. A man picked up his wife’s phone and said, “Mrs Sullivan is at her husband’s funeral who passed away last night in a car accident”. Shocked, John looked at his reflection in the glass before him, saw a blood-stained face and he screamed.

How to Tell: Keep the narration engaging with expressions, right up to the time when you scream out loudly.

4. Who Is in the Bedroom?

One night when Susan returned home and went to the bedroom she shared with her sister. Without switching on the light, Susan asked her sister if she was awake. Her sister replied, “Stop the noise and go to bed.” Susan wanted to take a bath so waited outside the bathroom which was occupied. Susan thought it was her father who was inside but her mom said he was asleep. Suddenly, her sister walked out of the bathroom. Shocked, Susan rushed back to her room, switched on the light and found her sister’s bed empty. Who had answered her then?

How to Tell: Add a bit of drama to the proceedings when u ask your kids, “Who had answered her then?”

Best Halloween Stories for Children

Caution: Kids may associate their own toys with the characters in these stories and fear could build up, so be careful and try to neutralise it where necessary.

Best Halloween Stories for Children

1. Halloween Night

Age Recommendation: 8 years and above

One Halloween night, four girls were walking towards their home, when they saw a man dressed as a clown, standing near an old church. He waved out to them and asked them if they would help him in looking for his lost dog. As the girls entered the church, the clown shut the door and locked them in. He tortured them till they died one by one and severed their heads off. When the priest opened the door the next day, he saw the dead girls lying in a pool of blood. The church is still said to be haunted by the spirits of those girls and one can hear those screams till date.

How to Tell: Make the killing grisly and give a sinister look while describing the clown. Scream like the girls would have to add to the effect.

2. Lost Phone

One late evening, a woman reached home and after settling down, began rummaging through her bag. She realised that she did not have her mobile phone with her and did not remember when she had last used it. Thinking that she had misplaced it, she picked up her home phone and dialled her own number. Someone picked up the phone but she couldn’t hear anyone on the other side, except for heavy breathing. The woman asked, “Can you hear me?” A voice at the other end said, “I hear you.” She kept trying but to no avail. The woman then decided to go to sleep. When she entered her bedroom, she saw her mobile phone on the nightstand. When she checked it, it was on “silent” mode.

How to Tell: Build up the drama of the phone not being picked up and create shock and fear when the voice says “I hear you”.

Scary/Spooky Campfire Stories for Kids

Caution: Make sure the kids are carefully tucked in after a story-telling session at a campfire as they may need assurance, especially if your stories have found their mark.

1. Closet Friend

Age Recommendation: 8 years and above

There was a little girl who lived in a town with her parents. She always told her parents about her imaginary friend named Kelly and that she lived in her closet. She also said that Kelly sat in her chair and watched her while she was asleep. One night, while the family was watching a horror movie on television, the girl remarked, “That looks like Kelly.” When her parents asked her about Kelly, she replied, “You know Kelly, the dead girl who lives inside my closet.”

How to Tell: Keep a straight face throughout the story and make an impact when you repeat the last line when the girl describes Kelly.

2. Cemetery Garlands

Age Recommendation: 6 years and above

A young boy was challenged by his brother and his friends to visit the town cemetery on Halloween night and place garlands on each of the gravestones there. Not wanting to be picked on by his friends for being a coward, the boy walked into the graveyard at the stroke of midnight and began placing the garlands, shaking with fear. He finished all and said to himself, ”There, I’m done.” Suddenly a cold, bony hand tapped him and said, ”How about one for me?”

How to Tell: Build the drama around the boy walking into the graveyard and describe the night and whisper slowly in the end “How about one for me?”

Cemetery Garlands - Scary Campfire Stories for Kids

Important Tips for Narrating Short Scary Stories for Children

It may be one thing to source haunted house stories for children and choose one to narrate, but narrating them to children is a different ball game altogether. The story-telling should be conversational and should not be a one-way monologue that will bore the kids. Here are a few tips you could implement when you have sacksful of scary stories to tell in the dark.

  • It is important to read and rehearse the story before you present it to the kids, especially if this is your first time.
  • You should use a conversational tone instead of simply reciting it. Emphasise high points where necessary and create drama with your voice.
  • Always sit in front of your audience, never sit beside them as the impact is reduced.
  • If you are around a campfire, make sure it is low and flickering, as a blazing fire will be a distraction.
  • Gauge the average age of your listeners and select an appropriate story accordingly.
  • Keep a low volume to keep the audience focused and attentive to your narration.
  • You may also dress up and enact a story with your spouse. Funny scary stories are the best to enact for kids who are not accustomed to scary stories.

Things to Remember While Telling Scary Stories to Kids

Things to Remember While Telling Scary Stories to Kids

  • Each kid responds differently to scary stories. Understand the audience and increase or decrease the eeriness in your story.
  • Make sure the kids visit the loo before the story begins. Also, remember to ask them if they’d want you to accompany them to the restroom after the story.
  • At times, choose stories that the kids can differentiate from reality.
  • Understand what really spooks your kids out, and either avoid the story or modify it to ease the stress.
  • Always try to keep their innocence intact and don’t scare them completely.

Kids love to hear scary stories at bedtime and while they are out camping in the wild. If you select the right stories for the right audience and keep them engaged (and scared), you are assured of an audience that will be clamouring for more.

Also Read: Exciting Bedtime Stories for kids