Telling Spooky Stories

Author and performer Donna Washington shares age-appropriate storytelling tips.



Telling Spooky Stories

Kids love listening to a spooky story because it allows them to peek into a scary and exciting place while your love keeps them safe. Whether you read a story or make one up, use these age-appropriate tips.

  • Set the mood with lighting—flashlights in the dark for older kids, slightly dimmed lights for younger children.
  • Use a low, slow voice for a spooky start. Punctuate your story with noises like a wolf howling, a hag cackling, or wind hissing.
  • Let kids 8 and under see the scary thing coming in advance—don’t give them any big surprises. Turn the climax into something silly or funny instead of frightening, and end the story definitively, so that the scary thing will be gone for good.
  • Give 3rd through 5th graders a jump. A loud noise or sudden movement could do the trick. Your goal is a quick fright, not nightmares.
  • Scare 6th graders out of their knickers with the goriest, creepiest tales you’ve got. The grosser the better.
  • Try these favorites: The Tailypo by Joanna Galdone and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz.

Click here to hear a sample of Washington's spooky storytelling technique.

Reading Activities
Dramatic Play
Age 5
Age 7
Age 6