For some reason, everyone loves a good scary story, and this includes kids. Children of every age, from toddlers to teens, love to shiver in response to something creepy or scary. Our selection of scary stories for kids includes not only some very short stories, but also some longer stories where the suspense builds. Make sure you choose one appropriate for the age and emotional maturity of the kids listening to the story. For very young children, we suggest you share your plans for telling a scary story with parents before doing so to avoid any problems.
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Table of Contents
Scary Short Stories for Kids
Scary stories do not need to be long and drawn out. Kids have short attention spans and our collection of short, scary stories for kids considers this fact and provides a good scare in a short amount of time.
The Clown Statue
A girl in her teens babysat for a wealthy family one night. The wealthy family had a very large house with many rooms. It was filled with lots of artefacts and old ornaments from all over the world. As the parents were leaving to go out, the father told the girl that once the she put the kids down, she must go down to the basement, watch TV there, and not go wandering around the house.
Once the kids are asleep, the girl retires to the basement room to watch TV. However, she cannot concentrate on her show because in the in the corner of the room is a life-size clown statue grinning at her. She finally decides to drape a blanket over the statue so she can ignore it. After a while she can’t stand looking at the clown statue’s over-sized feet sticking out from under the blanket. She decides to call the father and ask his permission to watch TV in another room, because she is freaked out by the giant clown statue in basement room.
“Listen very carefully,” says the man to the girl.
“Our children have been complaining about a clown that comes into their room in the middle of the night. We just thought it was nightmares. We don’t own a clown statue. You need to get the kids and get out of the house NOW! I’ll call the police.”
The girl hangs up the phone, turns around to look at the covered clown statue, but all there is a blanket on the floor! She hears steps coming down the basement stairs.
Hide and Seek
This scary story for kids ends with a question, the answers to which can make the story even scarier.
Two young brothers were at home alone in the apartment while their parents visited their neighbours next door for a while.
“Be good boys,” their parents said.
To keep themselves occupied the boys decided to play a game of hide and seek. The older boy turned his head to the wall and began to count. He could hear his little brother’s feet as he scampered about looking for a place to hide.
“Ready or not I’m coming,” cried the older brother and off he went looking for his brother. He looked in all the usual places, behind the sofa, in the bathroom behind the shower curtain, behind the curtains in every room, and under all the beds, but he couldn’t find him. The apartment was eerily silent.
Then he heard a scraping sound coming from the wardrobe. The boy was sure he’d already looked there, but he went anyway and called out, “Come out I’ve found you!” but there was only silence.
Again he called for his brother to come out and again nothing. Opening the door, the boy tried to peer behind the wall of dresses and coats hanging there. He bent down, but he did not see any feet standing there. He began to rise up and put his hand out into the mass of clothing to feel for his little brother when a small, white, icy cold hand came out, grabbed his wrist, and tried to pull him into the closet.
As he is trying to pull himself free, he hears a noise behind him, looks over his shoulder, and sees his brother behind him. “Couldn’t you find me?” asks the boy.
The older brother screams in fright and desperately tries to free himself from the grip of the hand, all the while being pulled into the wardrobe. The younger brother grabs him and together they manage to pull free. They both run screaming from the apartment.
Nobody knows what would have happened if the hand had managed to pull him in. Do you!
The Flying Dutchman
An old legend and famous scary story, there was even a movie based upon this legend in the 1950s. Some versions say the Dutchman must sail the seas until he finds the love of a good woman.
The legend of The Flying Dutchman began 1641, when a Dutch ship sank off the coast of the Cape of Good Hope. The captain, a Dutch man named VanderDecken, failed to notice the dark clouds looming. Only when he heard the lookout scream out in terror did he realise that they had sailed straight into a fierce storm.
The captain and his crew battled for hours to get out of the storm. At one point it seemed as if they would make it. Then they heard a sickening crunch; the ship had hit treacherous rocks and began to sink. As the ship plunged downwards, Captain VanderDecken knew that death was approaching. He was not ready to die and screamed out a curse: “I WILL round this Cape even if I have to keep sailing until the end of time!”
So, even today whenever a storm brews off the Cape of Good Hope, if you look into the eye of the storm, you will be able to see the ship and its captain – The Flying Dutchman. The legend goes that whoever sees the ship will die a terrible death.
Many people have claimed to have seen The Flying Dutchman, including the crew of a German submarine boat during World War II.
On 11 July 1881, the Royal Navy ship, the Bacchante, was rounding the tip of Africa when they were confronted with the sight of The Flying Dutchman. The midshipman, a prince who later became King George V, recorded that the lookout man and the officer of the watch had seen The Flying Dutchman and he used these words to describe the ship:
A strange red light as of a phantom ship all aglow, in the midst of which light the mast, spars and sails of a brig 200 yards distant stood out in strong relief.
It is pity that the lookout saw the Flying Dutchman. For, soon after, on the same trip, he accidentally fell from a mast and died. Fortunately for the English royal family, the young midshipman survived the curse to become The King of England!
The Vanishing Hitchhiker
This urban legend appears in many forms in different parts of the country. Resurrection Mary is the most famous and is associated with the southwest suburbs of Chicago and Resurrection Cemetery. Tell this story as if it happened to a personal friend.
My Uncle Joe was driving home late one night when he picked up a pretty girl hitchhiking in a white dress. The girl was very nice and they have a good conversation. He drove her home and dropped her off at her house. The next day, he realized she left her sweater in his car. He decided to drop the sweater off at her house. When he rang the bell, an old lady answered the door. He tells her his story and she tells him he must be mistaken – her daughter died in a car accident after a night of dancing many years ago.
Variation: The hitchhiker never gets to her house. She mysteriously vanishes from the car as they pass the cemetery gates.
The Big Toe
This is a story that is not too scary for young children and can actually be quite funny. This traditional Southern tale should be told in a serious tone.
A woman is gardening when she digs up a hairy toe. She brings it in the house and puts it in a jar. When she goes to bed that night, she hears the wind moaning and groaning and then she hears “Where is my Hair-r-r-y To-o-e?”
She creeps further under the covers as the house creaks and cracks and she again hears, “Where is my Hair-r-r-y To-o-e?”
Continue this story as long as you wish, with more details about the scary noises in the house and repeating the question “Where is my Hairy Toe” more forcibly and louder.
Finally, say “Where is my Hair-r-r-y To-o-e?” in a low, menacing voice and then jump up, point at the listeners, and scream, “You’ve got it!”
The following stories are a bit longer. To build the suspense, tell them slowly, with a great deal of vocal expression
The Lady with the Emerald Ring
A rich man’s wife became deathly ill the night before Christmas in 1798, so he called for the doctor. By the time the doctor arrived, his wife had died, or so it seemed. Her husband was so grief stricken that he locked himself in his room and did not attend the funeral the following day. The servants of the house carried the rich woman’s body to the Vicar who, in a drunken stupor, held the ceremony quickly. The veil was drawn across her face, the stone lid lowered, and the iron grille locked.
Just before the clergyman fell to sleep later that night, he remembered the beautiful emerald ring on the finger of the woman he had laid to rest. Wanting the ring and thinking no one would find out, he went downstairs, unlocked the lid, opened it, and tried to pry off the ring. It would not budge. He ran and brought back a file to cut the ring off her finger. When that did not work, he severed her finger and pulled the ring off. As he left, he turned around to pick up the iron lid, and screamed at the top of his lungs. He dropped the ring and ran. The woman had awakened, was moaning, and held her severed finger towards him with an evil smile on her face.
Wearing nothing but her fine silk dress, the woman walked back to her home, knocked on the door, and rang the bell, but to no avail. The servants had all gone to sleep, for it was late on Christmas Eve. She lifted a heavy stone, threw it at her husband’s window, and waited. He came to the window with a sorrowful look on his face.
Suddenly, to her surprise, he yelled, “Go away. Why must you torture me so? Don’t you know my wife has just died? Let me mourn and do not bother me again.”
With this he shut the window. He did not realize it was his wife who had thrown the rock at the window. She repeated her actions, again throwing a rock at the window. He opened the window again, and she yelled to him, “I am no one but your so-called dead wife. Now come down here and open this door, unless you’d like me to die a second time on our doorstep.”
“You are a ghost then?” he said to her.
She said, “No, for ghost’s don’t bleed. Now come down here before I catch my own death of cold.”
The man with a joyous look on his face came down to meet his wife and took her inside where he called the doctor once more and told him the news.
Meanwhile, the clergyman ran home and up the stairs. In a state of fright, he hung himself from the rafters of his home. If he had only known that the woman only wanted to thank him. She had not died after all but had gone into a coma. When he cut off her finger, the pain woke her up.
The Long-Dead Boy
Sometimes the occasion is perfect for a longer scary story for kids. The following story has been presented as “true” by many past storytellers.
Once upon a time, there was a 10 year old girl who lived in London in a very old house. She hated the house. It was cold and damp all of the time. Plus, none of her friends would visit because it was believed by everyone in the neighbourhood that a ghost lived in the house. The little girl was curious about the ghost, but nobody would talk to her when she asked questions about it or the history of the house.
The house was scary, and some nights were worse than others. One night, when she was in her room reading, the lamp suddenly went off. She thought the light bulb had died. She did not want to bother her mother, who was already sleeping, by asking for a new bulb. So she put down her book and prepared to sleep. All of a sudden, there was a quiet knocking on the window next to her bed. She saw the reflection of a boy, about her age, reflected on the window glass.
The girl turned to look in her room, but saw nothing. She got out of bed and went over to her lamp. She felt something wet on the ground. She flicked on the lamp, which now worked, and saw a red stain where she was standing. Then it disappeared. It wasn’t blood, because the red was too bright, almost pink, like paint. She scratched at the purple wall of her room and, believe it or not, behind the purple paint was pink, the same dark shade that had been on the floor.
The girl ran out of her room toward her parent’s room. But then she saw something that made her open her mouth to scream, though no sound came out. The attic door was right above her staircase, really high up; only her dad could reach it. Hanging from it was a noose, the thing they hung people on.
The girl ran back to her room and there was a body in her bed. She grabbed her phone to take a picture. She wanted proof. She wanted to know in the morning if what she saw was a dream or real. She took a picture of her bed, and, without looking at it, ran to get her mother.
Grumpily, her mother came up the stairs. The girl pointed to where the noose had been, but now it was just a piece of string from her mother’s sewing kit. She led her mother up to her room, to show her the child’s body, but now there was nothing. As her mother turned to leave the room, the girl remembered the camera. She grabbed it and turned it on, showing it to her mother.
There was no longer a photo of her bed. Instead there was a photo of a teenage boy, with a red mark around his neck, and pink paint all over his torn clothes.
Her mother told her stop joking around. However, her mother had an extremely worried look on her face. When asked what was wrong, she said, “He is back!”
The little girl never saw the boy again and her mother refused to tell her who he was.
The Piggy Back Ride
A married couple fought a great deal and finally began talking about getting a divorce. However, the wife discovered she was pregnant and, for the sake of the baby, they decided to give the marriage another try.
The boy was born and the family had a short period of tranquillity. Before long the old problems resurfaced and the father and mother were fighting all the time.
One night, when the boy was about 5 years old, the couple put the boy to bed and then got into an enormous fight. In a fit of rage, the father put his hands around his wife’s neck and choked the life out of her.
Eventually, when he realised what he had done, he began to panic. He knew he had to get rid of the body if he wasn’t going to get caught.
He bundled the body into the boot of his car and drove out of town to a swamp. He took the body from the car, but rigor mortis had started to set in and it was difficult to carry it. He slung his wife’s body across his back, as if he were giving her a piggy back ride, and waded out into the foul-smelling swamp. He let her go and watched the stiff hands and wretched face recede into the murky swamp water.
The man went home, and got in the shower to clean up, but he couldn’t get rid of the foul stench of the swamp. The smell made him sick to his stomach. No matter how hard he scrubbed or how often he showered, he could not get rid of the smell. It followed him wherever he went.
As the days passed the boy became anxious for his mother and asked all kinds of question. The father told the boy his mother had gone to stay with relatives.
The smell remained. The man began to ignore it as much as he could. One day the man noticed his son was looking at him in a strange way. Every time he approached his son, he recoiled in horror and would not let him touch him.
One day, he walked into his child’s room as he was playing on the floor.
“Son, there seems to be something bothering you. Is there something you want to say to me?”
“Is it about your mother?”
“What is it?”
“Why is mommy’s face so pale?”
“What do you mean?”
“Why do you give her a piggy-back ride every day?”
This is a story definitely not suitable for younger kids, but for older ones (from age 10 up). Make sure you use discretion with this classic scary story.
A recently married couple were on a long road trip through the heart of the United States. One night it was raining hard and the headlights of their car flashed across a bearded man on the side of the road hitchhiking. Not usually one for picking up hitchhikers, the husband stopped and pulled over to offer the guy a lift because the weather was so bad. The man thanked the husband and climbed in the back of the car. He seemed agitated and edgy, barely speaking a word for the whole journey. Eventually the couple dropped him off where he asked, at a crossroads. The rain was still coming down in sheets.
The couple drove on for a good while and, to pass the time, the husband turned on the radio. The couple heard a news report about an escaped lunatic, considered very dangerous, who should not be approached under any circumstances. The description matched the hitchhiker and the couple looked at each other, clearly shocked, but happy nothing bad had occurred.
Just then the car gave out, and no amount of keying the ignition would make it start again. The husband tells his wife to stay in the car while he sets off through the rain to try and get help. The woman locks the doors and wants to listen to the radio, but the car battery seems dead. Eventually she doses off.
A while later, she wakes up seeing flashing police lights through the water coming down the windshield and a voice through a loud speaker, “Lady, open the door, get out of the car and run towards us as fast as you can. Do it NOW!”
The woman is confused, but she gets out of the car with her hands above her head.
“Run and don’t look back!” orders the police officer.
But the woman is curious and turns. In the flashing blue lights of the police car and illuminated by flashes of lightning she sees the top of the car where the hitchhiker with a machete is hacking at the dismembered corpse of her husband. Blood is streaming down the sides of the car. She screams and faints as a flurry of gunshots ring out.
Whether the occasion is a camp fire, a sleepover, or a Halloween party, a scary story sets the stage for a fun time. Turn off the lights, set the stage, use your creepiest voice, and be prepared for a late night with little sleep!
Susan majored in English with a double minor in Humanities and Business at Arizona State University and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Liberty University. She taught grades four through twelve in both public and private schools. Subjects included English, U.S. and world history and geography, math, earth and physical science, Bible, information technologies, and creative writing.
Susan has been freelance writing for over ten years, during which time she has written and edited books, newspaper articles, biographies, book reviews, guidelines, neighborhood descriptions for realtors, Power Point presentations, resumes, and numerous other projects.