Ghost stories to tell children aloud?
May 16, 2012 5:16 PM   Subscribe

Ghost stories to tell a five-year-old?

Our five-year-old loves being told ghost stories aloud. I don't think reading them to him would be as effective -- I think it's more immediate to have the storyteller coming up with the wording, rather than reading from the book.

So tell me your favorite ghost stories! (Other than "The Golden Arm," which is already my standby.) Book recommendations are okay, but I'd prefer actual stories.
posted by palliser to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
In elementary school, our librarian did killer readings of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I found "Me Tie Dough-ty Walker" and the story about the dark, dark house, with the dark, dark room, etc. (can't figure out the title at the moment) particularly memorable.
posted by ignignokt at 5:31 PM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Well, since she's just about school age, right? It's about time for Bloody Mary. At our school, there's some contention about whether she lives in the third floor girls' bathroom or the first. I suggest making it whichever one she's least likely to use, if you don't want to have a first-grader that holds her pee in all day (like mine did).
posted by peagood at 5:39 PM on May 16, 2012

Man, "Me Tie Dough-ty Walker" still freaks me out (as do most of the stories in those books). Follow up on ignignokt's recommendation, but make sure you get one of the original versions, not the ones with the new artwork.
posted by curious nu at 5:43 PM on May 16, 2012

Golem stories are good!
posted by ocherdraco at 5:59 PM on May 16, 2012

Not exactly a ghost story, but maybe close enough...

Check out The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert Service and see if it fits what you're looking for.

"There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee...."
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:29 PM on May 16, 2012

Twain's, "The Man With the Golden Arm." Maybe edit the mention of it being a "negro story," but you get to introduce her to Mark Twain at the same time! And it's fun to tell.

"The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner?"

posted by cmoj at 6:44 PM on May 16, 2012

Oh wow. Didn't read your last line. Maybe it means we're on the same wavelength.
posted by cmoj at 6:45 PM on May 16, 2012

Let me particularly suggest that you try out older people that you know for their own experiences. I was spooked best by my dad telling stories of strange things that happened to his grandparents' generation down on the farm in Mississippi. I've tried to repeat the stories in company, but people are just kind of nonplussed, because they don't have the same impact if you didn't know the old folks and the places they were talking about. (There is no way I can convey to you how scary a thing described as "a pile of molasses buckets walking" was to me as a young girl.)

My dad also told me, from his memory, "Raw Head and Bloody Bones." I don't know where he heard it. His favorite ghost story, he will tell you to this day, is "The Hobyahs," which he heard at a tiny age, but oh man, I dunno.

I read this story, a small child's memory of some friendly Muppets, when I was in high school -- and I slept with the lights on that night, I tell you.

I come from a creepy family, and I strongly approve of your pursuit.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:46 PM on May 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

I am absolutely terrified of ghost stories, and have been since I was little, so this may be way too tame for her, but a little bit older than her, I was read or read The Highwayman which ends with the ghost coming for his Bess. I loved the language in it and read aloud, it's just wonderfully exciting and dramatic and sad and scary.
posted by viggorlijah at 1:37 AM on May 17, 2012

Oh it's definitely time for the Teeny Tiny Woman. Basically the key to this story is lulling your audience with repetition. Keep doing the "she pulled the covers up a teeny tiny bit further" part until you've built up enough anticipation and then startle them with the abrupt change of the last line. I've made a room full of adults jump with this when I really did it right.
posted by MsMolly at 9:01 AM on May 17, 2012

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