The Creepiest Stories We Read As Kids

Posted by Michael Avery in Geeks and Gaming On 2nd April 2017

Most adults with phobias inherited those deep-seated fears from negative experiences in their childhood. It could’ve been a dog barking at you when you were a mere baby, a sibling thinking it would be funny to scare you with a mask, or a book you read late at night that you were sure wouldn’t scare you because you were a big kid. Unfortunately, many of us still carry those terrors and fears with us. It’s an evolutionary psychological adaptation: as small children, we were certain these threats, whether real or imaginary, were potentially life-threatening, so we’ve held on to them to this day.

If you were a child of the nineties, you almost undoubtedly spent some of your reading time with the children’s horror series, Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark. Our teachers and parents were happy we were reading, but really, we were hurriedly scarring ourselves for life while rushing through the pages of these books. We’d watch shows like Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, and very rapidly, we would have goosebumps and require nightlights if we ever planned on sleeping.

Ready to relive some of your childhood nightmares? You should be because we’ve got fifteen of the creepiest childhood stories here for you. Sure, some of them aren’t as terrifying now that we’re watching movies like Paranormal Activity, Oculus, and Sinister, but let’s be honest: these are the stuff of nightmares, what continue to wake us up in cold sweats and make us hesitant to look under the bed after dark.


#1. The Dream

And just like that, we’ve jumped right into it. The Dream is a story in one of the many compilations by Alvin Schwartz (who, we’ve decided, is a professional tormentor of small children and some adults). In the story, a young woman is a traveling salesman and plans to move on to a town called Kingston. Before she leaves, she has a dream that a pale-faced woman with stringy black hair and black eyes comes to her bed in a strange house and says, “This is an evil place. Flee while you still can.” So the woman wakes up and reasons out that even if it was just a bad dream, she would just skip Kingston and move on to the next town: Dorset. However, Dorset turns out to be exactly where her dream was set, and in the middle of the night, she actually wakes to the terrifying figure as she did in her nightmare.

In essence, not so scary right? But think about it: the premise of the story is that if evil is in our future, it’s inescapable. No matter what we do to avoid it, it’s going to find us. THAT’S A HORRIFYING IDEA TO PUT IN A CHILD’S MIND.


#2. The Red Spot

Here’s another one of Alvin Schwartz’s messed up stories, one that’s probably developed a fear of spiders in an entire generation of young people. It’s a simple story involving a tiny spider bite. But not the cool kind of spider bite that gives you superpowers.

Little Ruth was sleeping when a spider crawled across her face. The next morning, she had a little red spot on her face that her mother said was probably just a spider bite; no need to worry about it. But it got bigger and bigger, and eventually, it grew to be a painful boil on her face. One night, after a hot bath, it burst — and millions of little baby spiders poured out of the red spot on her face and crawled into her hair and mouth and eyes. And from that moment on, every child ever was terrified of spiders, pimples — and trusting their mothers.


#3. The Drum

When you were little, you probably misbehaved and did so a lot around your mother. If your mother was especially fed up with you, she may have mindlessly threatened, “If you don’t behave, I might leave and never come back.” And you probably thought, “Well, too bad mom; I don’t believe you.” So you continued to misbehave and, in all likelihood, your mom stuck around and put up with you.

Well, that’s not how the story turned out in The Drum. Two little girls were envious of a drum a gypsy girl played. She said she’d give them the drum, but they had to misbehave as much as possible at home. They did, and the mother threatened time and again to leave. Finally, the gypsy girl revealed she was never really going to give the girls her drum, but by then, their mother had left. Any kid that read this probably ended up listening when their mom threatened to peace out.

#4. Darby O’Gill and the Little People

This was a kid’s movie rather than a story, but we’re going to count it because — what the hell — it was terrifying. The Disney movie from the late fifties wasn’t exactly fine programming. Actually, it was kind of flat-out terrifying and was clearly made for the sole purpose of scaring the jeepers out of kids. It’s about an old Irish fart who tells stories of leprechauns and is battling to find a great replacement for his role as the Leprechaun King’s caretaker. Yeah, it’s a weird story. But it gets downright spooky when the Banshee shows up. It’s an animated green specter that doesn’t seem to do a whole lot, but its ominous presence is enough to creep any kid out. The creepiest part about it is that it seems to be constantly approaching its victim without ever anything… it’s just waiting to pounce. And darn it all, that Darby O’Gill looks so damn petrified of this Banshee, even a grown adult would be kind of unnerved by it.


#5. The Last Unicorn

Though this story was made into a movie back in the early eighties, we’re not really talking about the movie. We’re talking about the book, which was so popular in the fantasy genre, it’s considered as being among the top five fantasy novels ever written. The essential premise is that this Unicorn lives in a sanctuary where hunters aren’t allowed to hunt. One day, when hunters considered hunting in the sanctuary anyway, one shouted into the woods that this unicorn was the last of its kind. Curious and unnerved, the unicorn ventured out into the world to find out what happened to the rest. Perhaps, one of the freakiest parts of this book (besides hunters luring the unicorn from safety with threats of extinction) was the ultimate bad guy: the red bull. Sounds silly these days, but this red bull didn’t give you wings. Instead, it loathed unicorns and drove them into the sea to kill their race. Seriously? Killing unicorns? This is some dark stuff for kids to read.

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