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The Best Halloween Stories for Kids — With Just the Right Amount of Fright

I am a forty-something mom who writes about parenting, mid-life, and anything else that makes me laugh (or cry) while living those years between changing diapers and wearing them.

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These stories are a little spooky, but not so scary that kids will totally freak out

We love a good ghost story, don't you? Well, OK, maybe you love a good ghost story until every single one of your kids is crammed into bed with you because they're afraid to sleep in their own rooms. Yes, Halloween is the perfect time to tell ghoulish tales — but those same tales that are meant for entertainment are also what nightmares are made of.

There are some fun stories, though, that successfully toe the line between frighteningly fun and over-the-top terrifying. We dug up some kid-friendly scary stories, so your whole family can feel Halloween-festive without too much drama.

1. The Hairy Toe

This spooky story is about an old woman who, for some reason, eats a hairy toe (there's the pun!) she finds in the woods behind her cottage. But what about the owner of the toe? An excerpt from the book Spooky Maryland by S.E. Schlosser, this tale has enough fantasy to it that it’s not terribly scary for the younger ones.

More: Back-to-School Shopping Can Actually Be a Breeze — We Promise

2. Dem Bones

Is your little one crazy for pirates? This is the tale of Captain Kidd and his band of pirates who bury treasure on the New Jersey shore and then come back to haunt the area on reality TV (just kidding about the last part). Retold by S.E. Schlosser as part of his Spooky New Jersey book, this tale will remind you of ghost stories from days gone by.

3. White Dog

Who doesn’t love a good dog story? Take one loyal dog, an adventurous boy, danger, and a ghost, and you’ve got a not-that-scary story for younger kids. This is just one story available on the TLC website that the whole family can enjoy.

4. The Canterville Ghost

What if your house was haunted, but you could turn the tables on your ghost? In an adaptation of the classic Oscar Wilde story, the tale of "The Canterville Ghost" shows how a whole family deals with a ghost in their new home — and eventually help him move on.

5. The Pleading Ghost

James M. Deem is an author of children’s books who has collected some of his favorite ghost stories and made them available in his "Haunted House" online. This story is from his book Ghost Hunters. Note: The pleading ghost in this story isn’t very scary, but it is a boy who died young, so make your own judgment call when reading to little ones.

Next Up: Looking for Dracula

Originally posted September 2015. Updated August 2017.

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