Kids enjoy a good fright, but it can be hard to find short scary stories for kids that aren’t going to keep them up all night.
We’ve pulled together the best kids’ scary stories for little and not-so-little ones and added some notes to help you get the most from the tales.
Murderer On The Loose
If you’re looking for a creepy story that can be scarier with the addition of details, then “Murderer On The Loose” is the one for you. In its most basic form, it’s one of the great scary campfire stories enjoyed by kids aged 8 and over. You can add some terrifying details about the murder victims if you have kids who enjoy the gore.
A man was lying in bed one evening when he noticed there were lots of sirens in the streets outside. And there was a helicopter flying around overhead, and the sounds of barking dogs and shouting people.
He looked out his window and saw a great deal of police activity, so he went online to discover what was going on. “Serial Killer Escapes!” said the headlines. As he read further, the man discovered a crazed killer had broken loose and that he was believed to be in the man’s neighborhood.
But he wasn’t too worried. As the night wore on, the noise wound down, and the man went to bed.
Suddenly, the man was startled awake. He thought he had heard a sound. He listened carefully and was just about to go back to sleep when he heard it again.
This time, he was sure someone was trying to get in his front door. The man looked down the hallway, terrified, not knowing what to do.
The only way out of his room, without going into the hallway, was through the window. He couldn’t climb out. Could he?
His mind was made up as he saw the door wobble in its frame as someone threw their entire weight against it.
Without another moment of hesitation, the man leaped out of his window and ran into his yard. He paused to look over his shoulder, just in time to see the light go on in his bedroom and a team of police officers pile in.
The man was amazed and relieved at the same time. Until he felt a hand clamp tight over his mouth and the cold steel of a serial killer’s knife against his throat.
This story is suitable for children of about 8 years and over and is a great “all-rounder” scary story for kids. It’s a good campfire scary story for kids but can be used for sleepovers, Halloween, or any other time you need a scare.
A man moved to a small town and slowly got to know a few of his new neighbors. He soon learned that most of the residents believed that one of the roads out of town was haunted, but he didn’t believe in ghosts, so he never asked why.
One day, the man went to visit a friend in another town. He was enjoying his visit so much that he ended up staying later than he had planned. By the time he left for home, it was way past midnight.
There was no moon that night, and once he left the town limits, the only lighting came from his headlights. Soon it began raining, and the rain made it even more difficult to see.
As a result, it was almost too late to brake when the man saw the woman on the road. He jammed his foot hard to the floor, and the car swerved in the road before coming to a stop just inches from her legs.
Normally, the man would have driven off again, but it was so late, and the weather was terrible. He decided to offer the woman a ride. She got into his car, took off her wet hoodie and held her hands up to the vents to capture the warmth.
When they reached town, the woman directed him to her home, thanked him for the ride, and went inside. When the man got home, he discovered she had left her hoodie in his car. He thought about driving back to her house, but it was so late that he decided to go inside to bed and return the hoodie the next day.
The next morning, he drove back to the house where he had dropped her off, walked to the door, and rang the bell. An older woman answered the door, and he handed her the hoodie.
“I gave your daughter a ride home last night, and she left this in my car,” he said.
The woman began to cry.
“My daughter was killed by a hit-and-run driver many years ago,” she said. “It happened on the road into town, and she was wearing a hoodie just like this one.”
The Thirteenth Floor
If you live in or visit a building without a thirteenth floor, this story is an excellent way to explain why the number isn’t used in the elevator. Use your best judgment over whether your child is mature enough to handle this tale — those over 7 years old should enjoy this one.
The first hotel to have more than thirteen floors had a huge Halloween party to celebrate its opening.
Each floor was set up like a maze, decorated with cobwebs and other Halloween decorations. There were lots of people dressed up as ghosts and ghouls to frighten the partygoers. An exciting prize was hidden on the top floor, and the first person to reach the prize would win it.
Jack and Sophia were two of the partygoers. They worked their way easily through the mazes on the first few floors. As they headed up through the building, the hallways on each floor got darker and scarier.
When they got to the twelfth floor, Jack and Sophia heard a blood-curdling scream. As they made their way through the maze, they heard more screams and cries for help. Finally, in the lobby by the elevators, they saw blood dripping from the ceiling.
The elevator dinged, and the doors slowly opened, which was strange because every other time they used the elevator, the doors had been quick and smooth. The light in the elevator was flickering as they stepped in, and as the doors began to close, the lights went out completely.
And then, screams so loud the entire building heard them begin to ring out. At first, the partygoers thought it was part of the scary Halloween theme. But then, the owners of the building turned on all the lights and asked everyone to return to the lobby.
But when people tried to use the elevator, it never came. The bell would ding, but the doors wouldn’t open, and they were all forced to use the stairs.
Down in the lobby, the building owners explained they had not played the sounds of the screams. And, as they did a check of everyone who had come back, they realized Jack and Sophia had not returned.
Just then, the doors to the elevator opened. It was empty except for Jack’s watch, one of Sophia’s shoes, and a pool of blood. Jack and Sophia were never seen again, and the building owners took away the button for the thirteenth floor, so nobody would disappear there again.
Clap Once For Yes
This story is good for scaring your kids at any time, but it is especially excellent if you’re camping, or planning to go for a hike. For a better effect, instead of just saying clap, actually clap, especially for the last line of the story.
A family was camping and left their tent to go on a day hike. They were a few hours from their campsite when a storm suddenly blew up. They became disoriented in the wind and driving rain.
They tried to trace their steps back to the campsite but became lost in the unfamiliar backcountry. Being experienced hikers, they knew once they were lost, it was best to stay in one place than wander in the woods, so they prepared to settle down and wait for rescue.
Darkness fell, and the family built a fire to keep warm. As they snuggled up against each other and started to drift off to sleep, they heard a noise coming from the trees.
“Who’s there?” one of the parents called, but there was no answer.
Then they heard the sound again. But once more, when they called out, there was no answer.
“Perhaps it’s someone who can’t speak,” suggested the daughter. So her mom called out, “Is there anyone there? Clap once for yes and twice for no.”
There was one clap.
“You were right,” the parents said to their daughter. “There is someone out there.”
“Are you here to rescue us?” shouted the mom.
“Are you lost like us?”
“Do you live out here in the woods?”
“Let me try,” said the son. “Are you a boy?”
“Are you a girl?”
They all looked at each other, puzzled.
Thinking he was being funny, the son asked: “Are you human?”
Now, the family was scared.
“Are you alone?” called the mom.
The family huddled together more.
“How many of you are there then?”
Clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap ….
Since even the youngest of us like a little bit of a scare, this creepy story for kids is suitable for little ones as young as 5 years. For older kids, you can describe the creature in the wardrobe, and tell it on a rainy day, and suggest a game of hide-and-seek afterward.
Two sisters were spending the summer at their grandparents’ house. When the sun was shining, they had plenty of fun, swimming in the lake out front, exploring the woods out back, and playing all sorts of games in the gardens.
However, one week, toward the end of their stay, it did nothing but rain. The girls had played board games, read books, made things with their crafts supplies, and now they were bored.
The grandparents’ house was large, and the girls thought it would be an excellent place for a game of hide-and-seek. The younger sister wanted to hide first. She ran off to find a hiding place while her sister covered her eyes and began to count to fifty.
The older sister heard her sibling’s footsteps running up the stairs and along the hallway to the back of the house. After reaching fifty, she opened her eyes and went in search of her sister.
The girl went into every room. She looked under the beds and in the closets. Behind the curtains and behind the doors, but her sister was nowhere to be found.
Finally, she reached the only room their grandparents had told them never to enter.
She reached out and grasped the doorknob, turning it slowly and pushing the door open. Much to her surprise, the room was almost empty.
The only item was an old, tall, carved wooden cupboard, covered in cobwebs. But the door was slightly open.
The girl ran over, laughing, and swung the door open, expecting to find her sister, but the cupboard was empty. She leaned in, and as she did, a cold, icy hand reached out from the back of the dark cupboard and grabbed her wrist. She let out a scream and tried to escape, but the hand started to pull her into the cupboard.
The girl’s sister heard her screams and ran to find out what was happening. She entered the room and looked on in horror as her sister began to disappear into the cupboard. Luckily, the little sister was quick thinking — she ran toward the cupboard and grabbed her sister’s legs.
After a brief tug-of-war, she managed to pull her sister out of the cupboard, and the two girls ran from the room, slamming the door behind them.
This one is best saved for the 10 and over set as it is a little more graphic than the rest of the stories. There’s no way of toning it down to make it more appropriate for younger kids.
A man and his young teenage son lived together in a small house on the outskirts of town. The lot their house sat on was large and overgrown, with tall hedges blocking the house from the street.
One day, the man left on an overnight business trip but took his son’s phone charger by mistake. As a result, neither the boy nor his father could charge their phones. Both phones were fully charged at first, but the man was delayed on his way home, and by midnight on the second day, both phones were dead.
It was just after this that the boy heard a knock on the front door. He was a sensible boy and knew not to open the door to strangers. Instead, he looked out of his bedroom window, onto the drive to see who was there.
The boy saw his father’s car in the drive, but he could not see the front door from his room. He went downstairs and looked through the peephole in the door to see who was there. He could see his father on the other side of the door, looking back at him, and the boy reached up to open the door.
But something stopped him.
“Dad?” the boy called out. “Why are you knocking on the door? Did you forget your keys?”
The boy waited, but there was no reply — just another knock on the door.
“Dad?” the boy called out again. “Why don’t you just open the door and come in?”
But again, there was no reply. Instead, there was just a steady, rhythmic knocking on the door, which began to get faster and faster. The boy’s dad was knocking constantly on the door, waiting for him to open up, when suddenly he stopped, and there was no sound at all.
The boy looked through the peephole again. His dad was still there, so he decided to open up. When he opened the door, he discovered his dad’s head taped to the door, in front of the peephole, and a trail of bloody footprints leading down the drive.
The Demon Hello Kitty
If you are looking for a fun, scary story for kids, this is it. Kids who are 8 years and older will enjoy this for the silliness it is. It’s even better if you can have a Hello Kitty item or picture to use while you’re describing the character.
Do you know why Hello Kitty doesn’t have a mouth? No? Well, let me tell you.
The woman who invented Hello Kitty has a daughter. Her daughter developed a rare form of cancer in her mouth, and the doctors told her mother there was nothing they could do. Her daughter was going to die.
The mother was inconsolable. Her daughter was her only child, and she couldn’t imagine living the rest of her life without her. She vowed to do whatever she could to save her.
When the little girl was just hours from death, the mother was visited by the devil. He told her he would save her little girl, if she promised to invent a cartoon character that would end up in every home. The mother was suspicious — why would the devil request that she create a cartoon character that would bring joy into the world?
The devil’s intent wasn’t to bring happiness into the lives of children, after all. The devil said he would use the character to hypnotize children and possess them. The mother was torn — should she save her own child and sacrifice all those innocent children out there?
Because of her intense love for her children, the mother agreed, and her daughter recovered. In return, the mother invented Hello Kitty. The character has no mouth because her daughter’s mouth was eaten away by the cancer and sewn up.
It has pointy ears like the devil’s horns, and the word “kitty” means demon. So when you say Hello Kitty, you are actually saying, Hello Demon, and welcoming the devil into your home.
This is another slightly gory story that’s best for kids over 10. It is especially good for children who insist they are ready to stay home alone.
This is a story about when a girl’s parents left her alone overnight for the first time. The parents told the girl to make sure all the doors and windows were locked tight after they left, and not to open the door to anyone while they were gone.
The girl did as she was told, and after her parents left, she went around and checked all the windows and doors. They were all locked tight.
By 10 o’clock that night, the girl was bored being in the house on her own. She decided to go to her room with a big bowl of popcorn and get comfortable in bed. Not long after she got settled, she began to doze off and was awoken with a start when something touched her hand.
It was the dog. The family’s husky had come upstairs and licked her hand while she slept.
The girl went back to sleep but was awoken again. This time she knew straight away what had woken her up. It was a tap in the bathroom, drip, drip, dripping.
She reached down to her husky, who licked her hand while she fell asleep again.
Every hour or so, the girl was awoken by the dripping tap. But because she had stayed up so late, she was too tired to go and turn it off tightly. Instead, she would reach out to check for her husky and it would lick her hand while she fell asleep.
It was just after 6:30 the next morning when she could stand it no longer and got up to turn off the tap.
She walked into the bathroom and screamed. There was her husky, dead, skinned, and hanging from the ceiling.
The sound hadn’t been the tap. It had been her dog’s blood dripping onto the floor.
The girl ran back to her room to phone for help. There, on her floor, written in her dog’s blood, was the message, “Humans can lick, too.”
Cameras Don’t Lie
Children aged 8 years and up will enjoy this kids’ scary story. For extra punch, load an appropriate photo onto your phone, show it to your audience at the end of the story, and tell the kids you were the babysitter in the story.
A teenage girl had been babysitting for the same family for a few years. The children were generally well-behaved, and she enjoyed looking after them.
One day the family called the babysitter with a special request.
“My sister and her husband died in an accident, and we have taken in their daughter,” the father said. “She is very quiet after what happened to her parents, but she is no trouble. Would you mind looking after her as well as the other children this Saturday?”
The babysitter said she didn’t mind at all, and on Saturday evening, she went to the family’s house.
The children settled down in bed and they all quickly fell asleep, except the niece. The little girl came back downstairs and asked if she could sit with the babysitter because the monster that killed her parents wouldn’t let her go to sleep.
Thinking the little girl was imagining things, but understanding she had just lost her parents, the babysitter decided to let the little girl sit with her.
Seeing the babysitter’s phone, the little girl asked if she could take some photos with it, and the babysitter said yes. The little girl cheered up, just a little, and walked around the room taking photos of her teddy in different spots and snapping sad-looking selfies.
Every now and then the little girl would run back to the babysitter, crying, and asking her to chase away the monster. To make the little girl feel better, the babysitter would pretend to chase it away.
After a while, the little girl could stay awake no longer and fell asleep on the sofa. The babysitter carried her up to bed, tucked her in, and went back downstairs.
She picked up her phone with the intention of deleting the photos the little girl had taken. But when she began to look at them, she let out a scream. In each of the selfies the little girl had taken, behind her, there was a pair of red eyes staring out of a monster’s face.
Looking for ghost stories for kids? Tell this one to children over 8 years old for a big reaction. Tell it in the first person to make it even scarier and embellish it with details from your own childhood to make it more believable.
When I was a child, I lived on a street with a haunted house. A large and happy family had lived in the house until one night when one of the children was playing with matches. The youngest boy of the family dropped a lit match on his bed but was too scared to call out for help.
The boy was burned alive under his covers. His parents and two sisters died with him in the flames.
One evening during a sleepover, my friends and I took turns trying to scare each other with ghost stories. It was approaching midnight and, unable to scare each other, we thought it would be fun to go to the haunted house in the dark.
We walked through the gate together and up to what remained of the door, still set in its stone doorframe.
The smell of smoke hung in the air, and thin clouds of ash were being blown in the breeze. But then we realized there was no breeze.
Shapes began to form in the clouds of ash, and gray hands reached out from the shapes. As we turned to run, screams rose up out of the ashes. “Help us, we’re burning!” they cried.
We started to run, thinking that as soon as we were clear of the house, we would be safe. But the ash shapes and screams followed us. As we neared my home, the smell of burning was almost overwhelming, and as we reached my door, I glanced over my shoulder to see a hand reaching for me.
We piled through my front door, slamming it behind us, and ran up the stairs to my room, slamming that door tight, too. None of us expected to sleep, but the fear had exhausted us and we fell into a deep slumber.
The next morning, in the daylight, we were all much braver. During breakfast, we talked about what happened and came to the conclusion our imaginations had taken over. We decided to walk back to the house in the daylight.
I opened my front door, and my mouth dropped in a silent scream. There, on the door, were two large round scorches high on the door, like someone had pounded on it with burning hands. Lower down, there were two smaller sets of handprints, as if children with burning hands had pushed against it.
Finally, near the bottom of the door was a tiny set of burnt handprints, as if the youngest little boy had tried in vain to push open the door and get help for his family.
These tales will be sure to delight and spook kids of all ages.
Just remember, if you are telling your kids one of these tall tales, don’t blame us if you have an extra body in bed with you tonight.
Hopefully, it will be your little one and not something a bit scarier.