Campfire Songs and Stories

August 2, 2022 | Denise

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It's summertime and, for many Torontonians, that means spending more time outside! And what better way to enjoy the company of friends and family outdoors than around a roaring campfire? Whether you're off to a cottage, a campsite or staying at home this summer, get your marshmallows ready because it's time to make s'mores and memories!

Before you get going, make sure to check the fire safety regulations in your area first. Hot, dry weather can lead to a burn ban. And some areas, including the City of Toronto, prohibit open air burning, which includes campfires. If you're staying in the city, you can book fire pits through the City's Parks and Recreation Department or at Ontario Place.

Now that the safety stuff is taken care of, we've got a list of spooky and not-so-spooky short stories, as well as some musical suggestions, to get you ready for your next campfire. 


Campfire Stories

Cover image of Ghost stories : classic tales of horror and suspense

Ghost stories : classic tales of horror and suspense edited by Lisa Morton and Leslie S. Klinger

Let's kick off our list with an anthology of ghostly stories from several classic Western writers. You'll find lesser-known titles from some of the greats, like Charles Dickens and Edith Wharton, as well as masters of horror, such as Edgar Allen Poe and M.R. James.


Cover image of Spirits abroad : stories

Spirits abroad : stories by Zen Cho

Drawing on Chinese and Indonesian folklore, Spirits Abroad is an expanded version of Zen Cho's debut collection. It features 19 stories that bridge the worlds of the living and the dead, including the Hugo Award winner "If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again." The original, shorter version of the collection is available as an ebook.


Cover image of Haunted Canada 11 : frightening true tales

Haunted Canada 11 : frightening true tales by Joel A. Sutherland

Haunted Canada is a multi-award winning series. And more importantly, it is kid-tested and approved! The latest in the series, Haunted Canada 11, features true ghost stories and local legends from all across the country. For more kid-friendly, creepy Canadian tales, check out the rest of the Haunted Canada series.


Cover image of Queer folk tales : a book of LGBTQ + stories

Queer folk tales : a book of LGBTQ + stories by Kevin Walker

Campfire stories don't have to be scary; they can also be fantastical and fun. In this magical collection of short stories, many of which are suitable for all ages, Kevin Walker puts a queer spin on classic fairy tales, like Cinderella and the Three Little Pigs.


Cover image of The dark-thirty : Southern tales of the supernatural

The Dark-Thirty : Southern tales of the supernatural by Patricia C. McKissack

Patricia McKissack's collection of stories has won some of the most prestigious awards in children's literature. And for good reason. Not only are they captivating tales of both hope and horror, they are also an important record of the experiences of African Americans in the American South. While this is a children's book, please be aware that some of these historical stories include racial slurs and depictions of racist violence.


Cover image of Strange tales from Japan : 99 chilling stories of yokai, ghosts, demons and the supernatural

Strange tales from Japan : 99 chilling stories of yokai, ghosts, demons and the supernatural collected and retold by Keisuke Nishimoto

If you're looking to give yourself nightmares, this collection of classic Japanese tales will likely do the trick. These centuries-old stories feature ghosts, yokai, shapeshifters and trickster animals. In addition to Nishimoto's masterful retellings, you'll also find 32 pages of full colour illustrations, as well as information about the cultural contexts of these stories and the regions from which they originate.


Cover image of Bedtime stories for stressed out adults : tales to soothe tired souls

Bedtime stories for stressed out adults : tales to soothe tired souls

After you've gotten yourself suitably scared, try something a little more soothing before heading off to bed. Bedtime Stories for Stressed Out Adults is calming mix of fairy tales, poems and short stories from classic writers like L.M. Montgomery, Oscar Wilde and Lewis Carroll. 


Campfire Music

Having been very active in the Girl Guides as a kid, singing was a central part of the campfire experience for me. I was excited to see that we have some historical songbooks from both the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides in our collection. But don't worry, we've got suggestions for the other type of campfire sing-a-long too: the kind with someone strumming some basic chords on an acoustic guitar. 


Cover image of Guitar for dummies

Guitar for dummies by Mark Phillips and Jon Chappell

If no one in your group knows how to play guitar, why not grab a Guitar for Dummies and learn the basics? With easy to follow instructions and access to online video and audio clips, you'll be strumming away in no time!


Campfire guitar cover

Fingerpicking campfire : 15 Songs Arranged for Solo Guitar in Standard Notation & Tablature

Once you've learned the basics, you'll be ready for this ebook collection of campfire classics. It includes the standard notation and tablature for 15 songs from musicians such as Bob Dylan, John Denver, The Beatles, and The Eagles.


Musical instruments on display. From left to right: ukulele, hand drum, banjo, violin

Sun Life Musical Instrument Lending Library

You're all excited for your campfire sing-a-long but you've realized you have a problem: you don't have a guitar! Don't worry, we've got you covered. Our Parkdale and Downsview branches have the Sun Life Musical Instrument Lending Libraries. With a valid library card, you can borrow a range of instruments, including acoustic and electric guitars, banjos and ukuleles, a variety of percussion instruments and even a violin or keyboard. Please just be mindful of the dirt and smoke damage if you do take our instruments to your campfire!