very short stories for middle school
- “They’re Made Out of Meat”
- “The Death of a Government Clerk”
- “The School”
- “The Reticence of Lady Anne”
It can be a challenge to get middle schoolers interested in reading. The thought of tackling a thick novel can be overwhelming, especially toward the end of the school year when attention spans and patience for reading are often running short. Short stories are always a great choice. In addition to requiring less of a time commitment, they are an easy way to expose your students to new authors and genres. Also, the best short stories are every bit as engaging and meaningful as the best novels. Here are some of our favorite short stories for middle schoolers to share with your students.
When attention spans are short, these do the trick!
A young boy attempts to cross a long carpet in his home, imagining it to be full of snakes and hot coals.
An immigrant seeks a life of creative self-expression in America, but encounters disappointment and unfairness along the way. America and I vividly portrays the challenges of an immigrant. It deals with poverty and the role of charity.
Nearing graduation, an eighth-grade Hispanic student in a small Texas school is denied the scholarship jacket she has earned with top grades. This story addresses the topics of prejudice and unfairness in a school setting, integrity, and grandparenting. Read the story here: The Scholarship Jacket
In this humorous O. Henry story, two drifters, Sam and Bill, plan to kidnap a boy in a small town and hold him for ransom money. Their plan backfires when the boy, Johnny Dorset, becomes a total behavior problem that both men can’t handle. The men try to just return him without being caught, but run into more problems when they implement their plan. Find it here: The Ransom of Red Chief
NOTE: Curated resources do not include the units that RTE has developed in house.
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20 Great Essays and Short Stories by David Sedaris The best articles, essays and short stories from the master of observational humour Growing Up You Can’t Kill the Rooster “Use the word y’all and, before you knew it, you’d find yourself in a haystack French-kissing an underage goat.” Letting Go “When I was in fourth grade, my class took a field trip to the American Tobacco plant in nearby Durham, North Carolina.” Free Reading Worksheets Ereading Worksheets has the best reading worksheets on the internet, and they’re all free. These worksheets are skill focused and aligned to Common Core State Standards. You are free to save, edit, and print these worksheets for personal or classroom use. Many of these assignments can now be completed online. You’re going to like this.
5 Short Stories With Surprise Endings Your Students Will Love to Analyze – The Teaching Cove This post may contain affiliate links. Do your students find short stories boring? Can’t find short pieces of literature to have great discussions in class? Well, today’s post is about exactly that. With just a few days before the holiday break, short stories can be the perfect short lesson plans you need, if you choose the right ones. Short stories with cliffhangers or interesting endings are the ones that students love to analyze.
Synopsis: The Hadley family lives in a fully-automated home that does everything for them. It even brushes their teeth! The two Hadley children spend most of their time in a nursery that can simulate any environment. The Hadley parents become troubled when the children use the nursery to visualize hostility toward them, so they shut down the room. However, a temper tantrum by one of the children convinces them to give the youngsters one last hour in the nursery—a fatal mistake for the parents.
Talking Points: aging, forgiveness, young adulthood.
“The Lesson” centers around a young African-American girl named Sylvia who is taught the realities of racial relationships, socioeconomic differences, and bias in America from Mrs. Moore, an “educated” African American woman. This story will be especially beneficial for middle school students who are similar in Sylvia’s age.
This short story highlights racial discrimination and financial difficulties that make it hard for the main character, Martha, whose father is a farmer and must support nine children, to receive recognition for her hard work.
If you’re a fan of The House on Mango Street, you’ll love this spinoff by Sandra Cisneros. This short story focuses on Marin and Geraldo, two people in Esperanza’s life.
The Years of My Birth sends a lovely message about the power of love and acceptance. It follows the life of a girl with a congenital deformity, which was sustained by her twin brother in the womb.
The story by Morris Gleitzman is a great history lesson for middle or high school students. It helps them realize the immense terror of the period and solidifies the importance both of learning lessons so that history does not repeat itself and of speaking up when something feels wrong. The novel helps children understand that books are the key to understanding the unfair and often heartbreaking world in which we live.
When you’re planning a unit on World War II and seeking more modern interpretations of Nazi-occupied Europe, don’t look past Nathan Englander’s short story. This tale follows the story of two couples as they talk about how their families were affected by the Holocaust. As a topic that remains uncomfortable and terrible to discuss even today, reading about how people navigate such truths in a conversation is healthy exposure for students.