Few things both frightened and delighted us as children more than a well-told ghost story. Whether we were sitting around a campfire in the middle of nowhere, or simply shrouded under a blanket in our bedrooms, friends and trusty flashlight at our side, these suspensefully-spun tales of evil spirits and apparitions are a childhood tradition that dates back centuries, and one that continues to live each time a group of kids gather in the dark.
Many ghost stories are passed down from generation to generation, and our kindly grandparents often could nonchalantly pull out some of the creepiest ones. With their matter-of-fact demeanor and wise experience, we generally trusted everything they told us anyway, which made their scary stories all the more believable. Older siblings could weave a fine tale as well, with the incentive that any activity capable of inducing numerous nightmares in their younger brothers and sisters was worth its weight in gold. An Oscar-worthy performance could have little Timmy sleeping with the light on for a week. And when there were no little tykes around to terrorize, you honed in your skills amongst your friends – waiting for nightfall to arrive to achieve the maximum effect, of course.
For all the creativity that goes into telling a ghost story, most of the underlying themes have been around seemingly since the beginning of time, whether it be a face staring from a window, or a dismembered hand crawling around, or some mourning apparition wandering the halls, searching woefully for a way into the afterlife. Many of these recurring themes were highlighted in the popular 90s kid’s series, Are You Afraid of the Dark, which ran for seven seasons on Nickelodeon, and revolved around a club of of youngsters, the Midnight Society, that gathered each week to share their scariest stories.
As you might imagine, with ghost stories being such a universally appealing pastime, there are enough resources on the web to fill your cup to overflowing. Over on American Folklore, they have archived dozens of terrifically terrifying tales that can give you plenty of inspiration should the need arise to tell a few stories of your own. More can be found at The Shadowlands, with hundreds of haunted recollections cataloged of purportedly true experiences.
Of course, we probably have more than a few readers who could not only regale us with a ghost story or two, but likely have a few fond recollections of sharing them with their friends when they were young. Share your memories with us in our comments section, and if you heard a particularly terrifying story when you were a kid, one that has always stuck with you, we’d love to hear it.