Short Spooky Stories

Want to capture your students’ attention while giving them a reason to be engaged and listening closely?  Tell them a creepy story during October. Students crave to hear their teachers redo them at all ages. Read alouds can interest students of all ages. It allows students to experience the process of scaffolding, be naturally curious about topics and texts using mediums from fairy tales to novels. Read alouds have the power to create a new relationship with struggling readers as they often feel safer because they experience this time with peers.

October is a great month to take advantage of this opportunity by reading spooky stories to your students while focusing on story elements in a sneaky way! Add some flavor by dimming the lights and having creepy music playing softly in the background. 

Let’s Get this Spooktacular Reading Party Started! Access each story by clicking the title.

Suspense Story 1: A Collapse of Horses by Brian Evenson

blurred horse running through

In this creepy story, the narrator wonders if the things he sees are real or just imagining them. His house and family seem to be changing. Eventually, he has trust issues. The characters experience a plethora of his confusion throughout the story. Two totally unrelated things are in question: the house and a group of horses. Some questions he has are: Does the house have three bedrooms or four? Did he try to burn down his home? Were the horses alive or dead? Is that really his wife? How many children does the wife really see? The main character obsesses at these questions. In his mind, the horses “remain both alive and dead.  Each day he awakens the house is different from how it had been the day before. 

Uncertainty continually grows until finally, the narrator’s world collapses. A Collapse of Horses is eerie, unsettling, supernatural, and unknowable. It does a great job of building a sense of suspense and dread. Great story for high school students. Students who enjoy a chilling horror will love this. It’s perfect for elaborating on a lesson about unreliable narrators as well as how authors develop mood and tone. It is a perfect story when studying characterization.

Possibilities when reading this story:

Before reading:

  • What do you know about relationship when people are married? How do they usually behave towards one another?
  • Discuss mental illness and some behaviors a person who suffers this disease may face. 

After reading:

  • Write a continuation to the story if the husband dies and the wife lives.
  • Find evidence that the narrator doesn’t have a good relationship with his wife. 
  • Discuss ways one can help someone with mental illness.

An oldie but a goodie. With this one, you must read until the very end!

It’s the mouth-gaping reaction of students when the story ends. This is a story of a small town and the strange tradition of its lottery system. The violence is implied which is suitable for middle school readers.  Students usually respond passionately about the way this lottery should have or have been conducted. 

The story pokes fund of small times in some ways. The author notes the importance of tradition at any cost. The village lottery host a violent murder each year, a bizarre ritual that suggests how dangerous tradition can be when people follow it blindly. The reader sees the townspeople actually preparing for this lottery as if the offerings are rewarding. 

This lottery includes a funny-looking black box, handmade slips of paper, and rocks gathered by the children. Tradition is a way to link families and generations and the lottery is the tradition of this town. Who will be the chosen slip of paper in this year’s lottery?

Possibilities when Reading this story:

Before reading:

  • Discuss how traditions are preserved and may have evolved in modern times. 
  • Discuss the importance of relationships in unexpected tragic times before and after reading the story to see if the student’s point of view changes. 

After reading:

  • Ask students when did you realize that something was not quite right about the lottery? What tipped you off? 
  • Ask students are they surprised by the ending? Why or why not? Do you think that this is a good place for the story to end? 

To Wrap it All Up:

  • Have students write a prequel to how this tradition started in this town.
  • Using the Socratic seminar would be perfect for discussion.  All students will be able to answer at least a few questions about the story and its characters. 
creepy stairwell leading to basement

This is a good read for Grades 8-12. Students in that age range like it just the same. Mexican-Canadian author Silvia Moreno-Garcia writes this scary short story about  Ramon, a Mexican immigrant man living in Vancouver. To others, life looks fulfilling and successful. It is the kind of story that is creepy and moving to the reader.  The story revolves around his past, his fears, and his guilt. He starts to notice ghosts from the village where he grew up.  He can’t seem to escape it. The story shows, there are some things that you can’t leave behind, and regardless of how hard you try to change things, there are memories that will betray you. It also reminds the reader that there are some things that should not be looked away from. We see the power of connectedness in this short story.  The ending lends an emotional payoff where finally Ramon can see the real ghost haunting him and the real people he’s been ignoring. Touching in many ways!

Possibilities when Reading this story:

Before reading:

  • Discuss the word guilt as emotion and how it may affect different people. 
  • Discuss the importance of resilience.

After reading:

  • Discuss the mood and tone in this story.
  • Discuss the different circumstances in the story that caused the character to feel such guilt.
  • Compare and Contrast Mexico and Vancouver in the story, then in modern-day life
  • Find ways to assist people experiencing homelessness in your local town (make a list)


An Ohio pioneer experiences vast emotions throughout this story. It is the pioneer days and everyone craves the luxuries of the city so they head West. But wait, there is one original settler who  remains behind. He is a reclusive, introverted hermit named Murlock. He has no intention of leaving. He stays in his log cabin. The forrested area where he resides is symbolic of a his psychological state of mind. The story gives the feel of the dead coming back to life. Murlock never calls his wife’s name and he believes her to be dead while she is only unconcious. Murlock’s relationship with his wife is full of murkiness! Does he love her? Is he faithful to her while she is alive? To her spirit when she is dead? 

Possibilities when Reading this story:

Before reading:

  • Discuss what life was like when pioneers began moving out West.
  • Discuss what the following theme means to you: Keeping the evil that is within from going out.

After reading:

  • Find evidence in the text that Murlock is a hermit.
  • Find evidence in the text that shows Murlock probably didn’t have a good relationship with his wife
  • Find evidence in the story that may suggest why this story has the title The Boarded Window
haunted house with a ghost

This story is a good one for elementary through middle school students. This haunted house story is perfect for students who can handle a little bit of scary, but not too much. In this story, there is a haunted house in Blakeslee, Arkansas. The neighbors notice music and laughter coming from this house very often. The best part is that the house always has the fragrance of freshed baked bread. Neighbors often talk about how they wish they could go in to eat some of that fresh bread. They secretly dance to the music. Finally someone buys the house.  The family finds out about the ghost in the house the hard way. No one told this family about the ghost before they moved in. The story ends after the new owner goes to talk to the Pastor of the local church. Your students will have many thoughts about how this story ends. 


Possibilities when Reading this story:

Before reading:

  • Predict what will happen to the family that moves in the house with the ghost
  • Ask students if there is anything you would fear about having to move to a new city? Discuss.

After reading:

  • Discuss how the children in the story are probably feeling about moving to their new home when they first arrive? After they find out about the ghost?
  • Why do you think the ghost changed after the family moved in?
  • Why do you think the ghost changed after the Pastor came to the house with the owner?
  • Write a new ending to the story.

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Author, Blog Content Creator,  Educator, Presenter of Student Engagement and Executive Functioning Matters, Book Junkie, Self Help/Care Enthusiast, Mother & Calligraphist

Charell G. Coleman, blogger and speaker

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