Since the beginning of civilization, there have been stories of visitors from the dead. Ghosts and spirits are a huge part of most cultures, helping to explain the unexplained and provide entertainment. There are several different types of spirits, as explained by Our Curious World, and most of these types are common in ghost stories.
Most people get their introduction to ghost stories as children. They are popular during sleepovers and camping trips. There is something about being gathered together with friends at night that seems to invite thoughts of things that go bump in the night.
There are several great websites that feature kids' ghost stories:
• For camping stories, check out MacScouter- Ghost Stories for Scouts.
• Scary for Kids has a great short story collection.
• Ohio Travelor's Campfire Stories are perfect for a late night storytelling session.
• Older children will appreciate the ghost stories offered by American Folklore's ghost stories site.
As children who enjoyed a good ghost story grow up, so do the stories. Ghost stories for adults vary between mild "bump in the night" tales to horror stories meant to keep the listener up all night. Many of these stories have been around for generations, such as the urban legends featured on About.com's Horrors! site. Many other ghost stories are newer, crafted by more recent writers.
• Short, Scary Ghost Stories has a collection of well-known ghost stories.
• Spinetinglers features short fiction from a large assortment of authors, and even offers contests awarding the best short ghost stories.
• For more user-submitted ghost stories, visit Everything Scary, a site featuring over 900 ghost stories.
• Read ghost stories by Rudyard Kipling, Daniel De Foe, and others on Horror Masters.
• Halloween Web contains an assortment of many classic ghost stories and urban legends, including Bloody Mary and the Hitchhiker story.
• Scary Halloween Stories has gathered dozens of scary stories, for Halloween or all year round.
Many ghost stories are centralized to a certain area. Moonlit Road, for example, features stories from the American South. Many of these ghost stories get their origins in the colorful past of the area. Haunted Kentucky and Real Ghost Stories from Kentucky, for example, both feature ghost stories related to events in one particular state.
Perhaps the scariest ghost stories, if you believe in spirits, are the ones that are said to be true. These stories are based on real experiences by real people. Even those who don't believe in ghosts might have a hard time explaining some of these stories. Scariest Hauntings of All Time is a collection of some of the most horrifying true ghost stories ever recorded. More true ghost stories can be found at these websites:
• With over 13,000 stories of ghostly encounters submitted by users, The Shadowlands is one of the best online resources of true ghost stories.
• True Ghost Stories is another great resource for true ghost stories.
• With over ten years of collecting ghost stories from around the world, Castle of Spirits has enough ghost stories to keep a reader entertained for weeks.
• Ghosts of America lists haunting by state, along with the stories for the majority of the ghost sightings.
• About.com's True Ghost Stories offers real stories of ghostly visitors from all over the world.
Some ghosts are so well known that they could almost be considered famous. Tennessee's Bell Witch, for example, is one of the most infamous poltergeists of all time, and almost everyone has heard of the events in Amityville, New York. Other famous ghosts are well known not because of their ghostly activities, but from being famous in life.
• Eight of the most famous ghost stories, including the Tower of London and the Bell Witch, are available from Your Ghost Stories, an online collection site of hundreds of ghost stories.
• Monstrous has a list of more than 20 of the most commonly told ghost stories from around the world.
• People who are famous when they are alive may just turn into famous ghosts in the afterlife. Legends of America lists dozens of famous American personalities, and where their ghosts have been seen.
Want to experience your own ghostly encounter? There are hundreds of places all around the world that are said to be very haunted. Many companies offer ghost tours, or you can visit many of these places by yourself. Haunted American Tours has a list of the ten most haunted places on Earth, where would-be ghost hunters can go to experience some paranormal activity.