The Best Scary Short Stories for Campfires

One of our family’s favorite camping traditions is telling scary ghost stories around the campfire. I honestly only like ghost stories when we are out in the woods. I still get nightmares from the original “Jurassic Park” and “The Dark Crystal”. I am a little bit of a chicken. However, when the family and I are sitting around a fire, we enjoy many traditional camping activities, including storytelling.

My kids especially love it when my husband tells them and even though I get the heeby-jeebies, I always listen too. He always starts out “Have you ever heard about the lady in the lake…”. Personally, I prefer this one to “The Hook”. I still get shivers remembering my older sisters telling me ghost stories at night, in the dark, camping under the stars.

It’s a family tradition, so why not? A campfire or bonfire calls out for telling creepy, weird, or scary stories. It doesn’t even have to be a ghost story to give you goosebumps. So because Halloween is right around the corner and its bonfire season, I have decided to put together a list of a few story collections with short stories and tales that are sure to give you a few chills. Some are funny and others are the scariest campfire stories ever. There are scary stories for all ages.

Besides smores, the other thing you need for camping is a good story. I’ve divided this post into two sections: scary stories for adults and scary and funny campfire stories for kids. I figured that for kids, sometimes funny is better than getting the creeps. (This post was updated 2/3/2021)

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Creepy and Scary Ghost Stories for Adults

The Lottery And Other Stories” by Shirley Jackson– Not your typical collection of ghost stories, but a few of these will be sure to give you chills. My favorite “The Lottery”, will leave you unsettled and restless, even a little disturbed. I’ve written this post in two sections, This collection also includes some other thought-provoking and even humorous short stories.

“Glacier Ghost Stories” by Karen Stevens– If you are looking for a book of stories, this book is not for you. It’s more of a history of glacier and stories of paranormal activity. Montana has a rich history of thieves, murder and tragedy because of it’s history in the Old West. So why shouldn’t a National Park, especially one of the oldest and richest historically, have a few skeletons in the closet?

“Edgar Allen Poe: Complete Tales and Poems” by Edgar Allen Poe– Probably the most well-known American writer of macabre and eerie tales, I always think of Pie when I see Ravens. This collection has all 156 works by Poe. Poe made his mark on American literature with his dark and unique style. Currently available on Amazon on Kindle only.

“Monsters Among Us” by Linda S. GodfreyDo you believe in local lore and urban legends? Do you believe in Sasquatch? As someone who has spent time in the woods, I can tell you there are some odd things out there that go bump in the night.

“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” by Alvin Schwartz – Remember the classic ghost stories from when you were a kid? I’ve always found them really creepy, but what’s a ghost story without some creepiness? This reprint does include the original drawing. Apparently, there was a problem with the last reprint, because it had different illustrations. So if you get this, get the 2019 reprint.

Scary and Funny Campfire Stories for Kids

“Grandpa’s Ghost Stories” by James Flora– The illustrations in this book are wacky and unique and are just as good as the stories. In this book, when a grandpa and his grandson are confronted by a thunderstorm, the grandfather decides to tell scary and silly stories to ease his grandsons fear. This book is very enjoyable for all ages.

“Campfire Stories for Kids” by Johnny Nelson – Some of these are so funny, you might pee your pants. Not all of them are scary, but enough so that kids will love getting that chilling feeling the next time you tell campfire stories. This one is our new family favorite. The stories are short and entertaining and if you are an Audible fan, I encourage you to get the Audible version.

“Scary Stories for Young Foxes” by Christian McKay Heidicker– This lovely book is full of imagination and goose bumps. When Uli and Mia, two young foxes, are separated from their litter and get lost in the scary wood, they encounter many spooky things. It features eight interconnected stories and sixteen gorgeous illustrations. Well written and perfect for a bonfire in the woods.

“Campfire Stories” by Drake Quinn – I have no idea how I missed this when I first wrote this post, but I did. This is also one of our favorites for the kids. My oldest always makes sure we have a flashlight when we read the stories in this one. If you love humor and a little bit of scare, then you’ll enjoy the fun in this book.

Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories” by Roald Dahl– This book brings all of Roald Dahl’s creativity and imagination that he is so well known for, that any age can enjoy. This is a collection of stories from other well-known storytellers that he collected into this spooky collection.

“The Scariest Book in the Whole Entire World” by Joey Acker– This book is just adorable. Even though it’s the “scariest book in the entire world”, it is hysterically funny and a great book to read with a friend. There may even be a unicorn… and another surprise or two…

“Ten Timid Ghosts” by Jennifer O’Connell– This cute picture book is perfect for your younger ones. With fun pictures and counting to ten, it’s sure to be a winner with your youngest crowd. It is more fun than spooky.

“Get Dressed Sasquatch” by Derek Sullivan and Kyle Sullivan– This book isn’t scary at all, but do you believe in the Sasquatch? This cute children’s book is all about a ranger and the Sasquatch, who won’t put his clothes on! If you want to introduce your child to folklore, the box set also has books about a banshee, the Chupacabra, and Krampus and has a monster ABC book too.

And hey, even if it is not a book, you should try the podcast from REI, Camp Monsters. Have you heard of the Bat-squatch or Tahoe Tessie? What about Thunderbirds? It is e eight episodes, and so far I loved them all. Do you believe in the Sasquatch? It is a neat podcast and my kids love it, even on car rides.

Other Ghost Stories

If you haven’t found something here, there are so many resources online. I have included some really good ones that I enjoyed reading and have printed out for ideas:

Make these stories your own. My husband isn’t the best storyteller, but the kids love his ghost stories anyway. A campfire, a flashlight, or glow sticks make great special effects. Do you like scary stories? Or are you like me, that you only like them at certain times? Let us know in the comments below. And as always, be outside with no limits.

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  • Michelle

    5 years agoReply

    I love this selection. The Lottery is one of my faves too. And you can never go wrong with Edgar Allan Poe! You also got me interested in The Scariest Book in the Whole Wide World.

    • admin

      5 years agoReply

      It’s the scariest book in the whole wide world!!! Just by the title, you want to read it. It’s a cute book.

  • Holly Bird

    5 years agoReply

    Great lust ofbooks..percy for this time of the year!

  • Karen

    5 years agoReply

    I am such a wimp when it comes to being scared. I don’t enjoy being scared at all.

  • Ellen

    5 years agoReply

    Going camping in a few weeks with our grandchildren, and Granmpa’s Ghost Stories seems like just the ticket! Fun post!

  • Kristen Usrey

    5 years agoReply

    I love all the different book choice here! This is so perfect whether you like scary stories or cute Halloween stories.

  • Christina Furnival

    5 years agoReply

    I am like you — scary is not my jam! But my husband’s and my daughter would probably love these!

    • admin

      5 years agoReply

      My kids love being scared. I can’t even watch Jurassic Park.

  • Lisa

    5 years agoReply

    Being scared is not my thing, though I have read Them Lottery.’ Thank you for sharing some wonderful books.

    • admin

      5 years agoReply

      Not mine other, but some of these are just interesting and fun.

  • Ramae Hamrin

    5 years agoReply

    You’ve put together a great list here, Pauline! I remember hearing The Lottery as a kid, and it stuck with me for a long time. I’m not much for thrillers or scary movies either, but sitting around a campfire hearing spooky stories sounds like a wonderful way to spend an evening. Then I’d crawl under the covers in the safety of my own bed, with my dog at my side.

  • Lisa

    5 years agoReply

    Glacier Ghost Stories looks like a good read. And my son loves 10 Timid Ghosts. Great list!

  • Cindy

    5 years agoReply

    These are perfect for the campfire! Shirley Jackson’s tales are classics. My life has been one long series of true ghost stories. I’ve come to accept that and see the deeper messages within the hauntings. And, I’m still learning. It’s a magical world out there, when we have the eyes to see beyond the ordinary.

  • Leeanne

    4 years agoReply

    This is a really great list of books. I’m sure my kids will love the selection for them. They’ve been asking for us to sit out on Halloween around the fire pit to give out candies. I might have to read some of these kids’ books while the kids are trick or treating.

    • admin

      4 years agoReply

      The kids ones are really fun. Let me know if you check them out.

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