40 Excellent Short Stories For Middle School

Short Stories for Middle School

Middle school is a funny place. Students can be mature and insightful one minute, obtuse and petulant the next. Yet even the most resistant scholar will enjoy a good story. The 40 stories below are sometimes surprising, other times hair-raising. They are all guaranteed to raise questions and instigate discussions in your classroom that can lead to meaningful dialogues about what really matters in the lives of your students.

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Curated Short Stories Library Members: Click here to access your downloads!

  1. All Summer in a Day by Ray Bradbury | Short Story Unit | Short Story Unit on TpT
  2. Amigo Brothers by Piri Thomas
  3. The Scholarship Jacket by Marta Salinas
  4. Icarus and Daedalus by Josephine  Preston Peabody
  5. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keys
  6. Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
  7. Raymond's Run by Toni Cade Bambara
  8. Rules of the Game by Amy Tan
  9. The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs
  10. The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant by W.D. Wetherell
  11. To Build a Fire by Jack London
  12. The Ransom of Red Chief by O. Henry (Available in our Curated Short Stories Library)
  13. Seventh Grade by Gary Soto
  14. A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury
  15. The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe (Available in our Curated Short Stories Library)
  16. The Lady or the Tiger? by Frank Stockton (Available in our Curated Short Stories Library)
  17. There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury (Available in our Curated Short Stories Library)
  18. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
  19. Hearts and Hands by O. Henry (Available in our Curated Short Stories Library)
  20. Mother and Daughter by Gary Soto (Available in our Curated Short Stories Library)
  21. The Rocking Horse Winner by D. H. Lawrence (Available in our Curated Short Stories Library)
  22. Miss Awful by Arthur Cavenaugh
  23. Charles by Shirley Jackson
  24. The Moustache by Robert Cormier (Available in our Curated Short Stories Library)
  25. Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne (Available in our Curated Short Stories Library)
  26. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka* (Available in our Curated Short Stories Library)
  27. The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell
  28. The Two Brothers by Leo Tolstoy (Available in our Curated Short Stories Library)
  29. The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe
  30. The Sniper by Liam O'Flaherty (Available in our Curated Short Stories Library)
  31. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce (Available in our Curated Short Stories Library)
  32. The Veldt by Ray Bradbury (Available in our Curated Short Stories Library)
  33. Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving (Available in our Curated Short Stories Library)
  34. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
  35. The Third Wish by Joan Aiken (Available in our Curated Short Stories Library)
  36. The Landlady by Roald Dahl
  37. The Fun They Had by Isaac Asimov (Available in our Curated Short Stories Library)
  38. Rikki Tikki Tavi by Rudyard Kipling (Available in our Curated Short Stories Library)
  39. The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
  40. Thank you, Ma'am by Langston Hughes
  41. Names/Nombres by Julia Alvarez

BONUS!

  1. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry | Assessment Activity & Creative Writing Project | Assessment Activity & Creative Writing Project on TpT
  2. The Possibility of Evil by Shirley Jackson | Assessment Activity & Writing ProjectAssessment Activity & Writing Project on TpT
  3. The Masque of the Red by Death by Edgar Allan Poe* | Assessment Activity | Assessment Activity on TpT
  4. The Stone by Lloyd Alexander (Available in our Curated Short Stories Library)
  5. 2 B R 0 2 B by Kurt Vonnegut (Available in our Curated Short Stories Library)
  6. The Pedestrian by Ray Bradbury
  7. The Adventures of the Blue Carbuncle by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Curated Short Stories Library Members: Click here to access your downloads!

Curated Short Stories Library

Note: An RTE subscriber emailed me to ask if there was a simple way to subscribe to all the curated resources in one place, without having to enter an email address for every short story. At the time, there wasn't, but we have worked out a way to make it easy for you to access all the resources in one place — right here on this page! For just $10 per month, you can have ongoing access to current and future curated resources! Let us do the late-night searching for you! Learn more here.

Copyright notice: These stories are published on sites other than reThinkELA.com and NO copyrighted stories are excerpted or quoted in RTE-created materials. Some stories are in the public domain (not copyrighted), or are excerpts of larger works, while others are not. In some cases, teachers may print a class set for their own classroom usage, but there are exceptions. Please check with your district regarding its policies and licenses for reproducing printed copies. Generally speaking, you may ask students to download their own copies (outside of the one you download for your own use) to their devices for their own educational studies.

About the author 

Michelle Boyd Waters, M.Ed.

I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma student working on my doctorate in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum with an concentration in English Education and co-Editor of the Oklahoma English Journal. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify students' voices and choices.

  1. Man, oh, man…I don’t usually use capitals in the comments section, but I’m going to mind my p’s and q’s in the presence of an English teacher with a short story list this awesome. Much obliged.

      1. Hey, I have a book report that I have to do. i have to pick a short story and fill out a sheet. It asks for, setting, pov, characters, conflict, climax, resolution, theme. Which story from the list would be the easiest and most fun?

    1. I liked the stories because they are just cool! 🙂 My classmates are choosing stories from here to read in our book club! 😀

      1. I am a fellow English teacher and I greatly appreciate this litany of excellent short stories. Cheers!

  2. Can you suggest any short stories that have characters clearly acting on their beliefs or values?

    1. Hi Jennifer! I think “Raymond’s Run” and “Thank you, Ma’am” will both fit the bill. Have you considered those stories before?

  3. I know this might be off topic, but I need help coming up with ideas for a writing piece I have to do for my English class. My teacher isn’t being very clear on what we need to do, as “there are no expectations or boundaries”.

    -Your grade will be determined by your display of “growth mindset” characteristics throughout the process and by the timeliness of your submission.
    -All genres of writing will be accepted; however, only narrative, informational, and argumentative pieces can be considered for the district writing contest.
    -You are allowed to submit up to three (3) original works; however, only one will be expected.

    This is all she told us. Maybe if you have any writing topic ideas for a argumentative, informal piece? I’m not a fan of narrative, it make me feel self centered.

    Thank you so much.

          1. Oh wow! There are so many great books to read, it’s hard to suggest just one. What genre of books do you like? Perhaps then I can recommend one that my students enjoy.

  4. Have you ever read “Priscilla and the Wimps” by Richard Peck? It’s a great story and would make a great addition to your (already amazing) list!

  5. Hi Mrs. Walters,
    I’m currently student teaching and I was wondering if you could help me. I love your list that you have provided. I have used some of these short stories with my students. I’m reviewing Lit Analysis with students again before the PAARC exams in a few weeks. I feel that my students are strong with Lit Anal but I want to give them a practice test that is authentic and not from the PAARC study materials. What two texts would you recommend for students to use to address, theme, tone, POV, or characterization? I need some inspiration. This will be part of a Thinking Skill Drill unit, which asks students to think critically about how they will answer the prompt, create thesis statements, find evidence, etc, they will not be assessed on actually writing the paper itself. HELP!
    I was thinking of “Raymund’s Run” for one text, since I have not used that in this class yet.

    1. I think “Raymond’s Run” is an excellent choice! Also, I’ve added another story, which I found on an ACT sample question site: 2 B R 0 2 B by Kurt Vonnegut, which I recommend as well. You can view the ACT sample questions that go along with the story on the this practice site or peruse the speaking and writing prompts in this file.

  6. Ms. Waters
    I want to say thank you so much for putting so much hard work and effort into making this page so useful for everybody. I have used many of these stories in the past and, without your page here, had to search high and low for just the story while here it is just waiting for us! It makes putting together my lesson plans so much easier as I work with special needs students and I do not always have good materials for them so your materials here are a huge help! I do appreciate your hard work here as I know that you are probably already taxed with too much work.

    Elizabeth

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Elizabeth! I’m glad to have been able to help you.

    2. I agree with Elizabeth 1000%!!!!! Thank you Mrs. Waters for taking the time to put this list together, saving so many of us across the interwebs both time and stress. I am a freelance tutor in New York City who teaches several subjects, and I recently began working with a literature/writing student. She loves to read but has not been exposed to many classic works of literature. She also particularly loves to write short stories. Tracking down a variety of tried and true short stories seemed like a no brainer for our first few sessions, but I had no idea where to find them quickly. Lo and behold I stumbled upon your site and this fantastic list. It has been invaluable in terms of my lesson planning, and frankly, these stories are always worth re-reading for students of any age. I might just stay up for the next few hours reading all of them!! So very glad I’ve found your page, and I know my students will be too. Your passion for teaching and your empathy for and understanding of human nature are all extremely evident. THANK YOU!

  7. I have to write a character analysis on “The Sniper,” and with there being two different snipers in the story, and the title being “The Sniper” I would like to know if I should address the main sniper the story is about by anything other than just the main sniper.
    Thanks, Adam Swaggington

    1. If your teacher didn’t tell you which sniper to analyze, then I’d just pick the character that you prefer to write about. The Republican sniper is the protagonist while the other sniper is the antagonist, so that might make a difference to you.

  8. This is an amazing resource! Thank you truly from the bottom of my heart for all the hard work you have put into collecting these stories.

  9. Thanks a lot for these. I am looking forward to reading them myself! I’m hoping they’ll be useful for my students.

  10. Thanks so much for this fantastic list. Several of these I have taught in Grade 8 and 9; they are spectacular! Do you recommend any stories specifically for grade 7 (based on reading level, etc.)

    Many thanks!!

    1. I like to either find articles at NewsELA.com, or let the kinds find articles on their own that they like on the site. Other sources of non-fiction include The Learning Network at The New York Times.

  11. Does anyone know a short story about a granddaughter going through the woods on a full moon night to get a doctor/medicine for her ailing grandmother… and she turns into a hart deer?

  12. I am looking for a short historical fiction selection to read to my middle school students who are completing a Historical Fiction Unit. Are any of your selections here in that genre?

    1. Generally speaking, historical fiction is written by contemporary authors who craft a story set in the past. While the majority of these stories are set in our past, the authors created settings that were contemporary to them at that time. If you’re wanting a story by a current author who is intentionally creating a historical setting, check out this Pinterest board. Most of the listings are of books, but some of them may be relatively short.

    1. I recommend you choose one of the short stories above, and then choose your favorite scene, or a very dramatic scene to act out. You might write a one-minute part for a narrator to fill in some background to setup the scene, then write the dialogue and stage directions for two or three actors who will convey the action of the scene. The narrator can then fill in the rest of the story in a minute or less.

  13. I absolutely love “All Summer In a Day” and “Rules of the Game”!
    I definitely recommend both. 🙂

    1. The Fall of the House of Usher, The Landlady, and The Most Dangerous Game all have vocabulary that would be challenging to 9th graders, as well.

  14. Mrs Waters

    I am trying to recall a short story which I read in high school (early 70s). At the end of the story some boys are climbing through a window with hunting rifles.

    Do you recall this story?

    Thanks

    1. Hi David!

      I’m afraid I don’t recall that story, as I was only in kindergarten in the late 70s. (Thank you for making me feel young!) That said, you might be able to use one or more of these book finder resources to find the short story you remember. Good luck!

  15. Hi Mrs. Waters,

    It’s been so difficult to find a good list of short stories. I am working with two black students from a lower socioeconomic neighborhood on their literacy. I’m finding one of the students has anger issues that are often directed towards authority and the system, in addition to racial issues. I would like to share with him some texts (particularly short stories) that involve social justice and diversity. Hopefully this will be relatable and will be an outlet for him. I pulled “Thank You Ma’am” for this goal Would you recommend anything else?

  16. A great list but you have to include Three Skeleton Key! A favorite of my 7th graders for over a decade!

  17. hi, I wanted to read the Third Wish, it seems very cool but it says that the “subscription has expired” why is that?

    1. I have updated the link to one a PDF file that still exists. You should be able to download the story now.

      Thank you!

  18. Hi i was wondering if u did any short short stories because i need to do a review for one for school however i don’t want to use a longish one, Thank you.

    1. Hi Tilly! I’m not currently writing any short stories, but there are some shorter ones on my list, or in the comments. Thank you!

  19. The Black Cat and The Sniper are the best. In the feline-related one, I don’t really care that the wife died, but the KITTY! 🙁 It just ruined my soul.

  20. Very nice stories. Especially for doing hw and projects. I want to say thanks to whoever has made this site.Very helping………..

  21. Thank you for the wonderful collection of short stories. It has truly been helpful in persuading my students to read

  22. Fall of the House of Usher? For middle schoolers? I can see most of these being used at that level, but my AP Lit kids have had a hard time with Usher – it’s definitely too advanced for 7th graders.

        1. Keep looking! Think about the books you liked the most, and see if you can find others similar in genre, or written by the same author. If that doesn’t work, start sampling other books. Check with your friends and see what books they are reading, and what they recommend to you. Also, think about what movies you like and find books in the same genre. For example, if you like action movies, you might like books in the same genre.

          I had a student this year who thought he’d like sports books because he loves playing sports. But he doesn’t like them. Instead, he prefers science fiction books. So, just keep looking!

  23. wow these stories are really great, i do remember reading a few of them. Do you know any of the stories that have some sort of mythical/magical battle, by any chance?

  24. Your list is amazing! I’ve had my students read some of the ones you reccommend here, and they’re as excited as I am when finishing them. Would you have any short story suggestions for High Schoolers? I have such a hard time since I go through a lot of authors with eighth graders!

  25. Is there a specific story that shows growth or change within a character from beginning to end?? Thanks.

  26. You have done a wonderful job with this post!!
    Are any of these stories based on historical events? I am on the search for short stories that are based on topics such as the Renaissance, Reformation, Silk Road – anything between the time periods of 7th century to 1750. Any help would be awesome!! Thank you!

  27. I loved a short story I read back in the mid 70’s. I believe the title was “Nancy” about a little girl who sneaks out of the house when her family is napping and runs into a family from the wrong side of the tracks. She spends the afternoon with them having all kinds of adventures until her aunt or mother finds her, scolds her, and brings her home. I have had no luck finding this story anywhere!

  28. A brilliant resource. Thank you for assembling a great list of short stories AND giving access to them. A great time-saver.

  29. I am in middle school in Iowa and my AM told me about this and now everyday in AM I read at least a story and my reading comp. has improved so much!!!

  30. I like just have to say this… thank you! Your stories are great! I improved so much in reading! I’m in 5th grade and my friends are too. We had to pick a story to read and picked one of your stories. This is how much I love your stories! Thank you again! Have a great day!

    Love,
    Admirer

  31. i am a student and i really find these short stories very intesting and confurting i love them

  32. I am a student in year 6 and with these stories,……………
    I am lost for words
    Incredibly incredible
    Awesomely awesome
    Greatly great
    Fantastically fantastic

  33. Hi there,
    Thank you so much for helping me pick out a short story for my class. They loved the short story Amigo Brothers so much. Just wanted to say thank you. I am hoping that after this story we can read another one. My class is very skilled and talented, they are almost done with the book, and it has only been a week. they are the smartest kids in the world. thank you again.

  34. Hello!

    English teacher from across the globe, here. Just wanted to say thanks for putting together this awesome resource! It’s been a real boon, and I wanted to let you know that after all these years, it’s still appreciated!

  35. I’m a substitute teacher and lists like this are pure gold for me. Thank you for putting an engaging resource at my fingertips!

  36. Well Mrs waters all I have been doing is rummaging through the prompts and stories since I opened up this site actually my teacher told me that she wanted us to write some short stories but she doesn’t want them to be narrative and this what I figured out from her expressions ?
    This site is fabulous but I’m now a bit confused so could you please suggest me some good prompts to begin my story with because I have to submit these stories to her by tomorrow
    Thanks

  37. Hi, I am a mom trying to help my children better their reading comprehension. I came upon your site and love the 40 selections you have here. My question is , do you happen to have any guided questions that I can follow to ask my children to make sure they are understanding what they are reading? Any help would be greatly appreciated and welcomed. I am feeling desperate trying to help them. Thank you.

  38. A brilliant resource. Thank you for assembling a great list of short stories AND giving access to them. A great time-saver.

  39. I need help.I have to do a short story 300-500 using figurative language and the 5 senses.It has to have a clear message and im really stuck.Help?

    1. Hi Anna! Do you know what message you’d like to convey to your audience and who your audience is? Once you know that, you can start creating characters who your audience will identify with and most likely ones that you will identify with as well. You can also decide what will happen to your characters and how they will respond to those events in a way that will craft the message you’re wanting your audience to get.

      1. “A Christmas Memory” BY Truman Capote. PERFECT for figurative language!
        Debbie Hutchinson
        Colleton County Middle School
        Walterboro, SC

    1. Hi Celeste!

      Which links are not working for you? I have a system setup so that I can tell which links are broken. However, all the links on this page appear to be working.

      I can check the specific ones that you’re having trouble with though. Just let me know which ones here.

      Thank you!

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