The best Halloween stories for kids with just the right amount of fright

Spooky Halloween tales that won’t leave your kids screaming in the dark

What is Halloween if not a time to scare the pants off your kid? OK, OK, we concede that giving your kids nightmares for the other 364 days of the year isn’t necessarily worth the risk of scaring them on Halloween, which is precisely why we’ve put together some kid-friendly scary stories as backup. You can still pass on your love of things that go bump in the night by reading your kiddos the tamer versions of your favorite hair-raising tales.

More: 12 kids whose lies were so good their parents couldn’t keep a straight face

For a nightmare-free Halloween, pick from more than a dozen kid-appropriate spooky stories that your little ghouls and boys are bound to love:

1. The Hairy Toe

This spooky story is about an old woman who eats a hairy toe 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.

2. Dem Bones

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

More: The 25 stupidest baby products ever invented (and that’s saying something)

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-very-scary story for younger kids to enjoy. This is just one story available on the TLC website that your whole family will enjoy.

4. The Canterville Ghost

What about a family who turns the tables on their ghost? In an adaptation of the classic Oscar Wilde story, the tale of The Canterville Ghost shows how a whole family dealt with the ghost in their new home, and how they eventually helped 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. The pleading ghost in this story isn’t very scary, but it is a little boy who died young, so this one might not be suitable for the youngest in the crowd.

Next Up: Looking for Dracula

1 of 3