Short Stories for Middle School

The following short stories have been specifically chosen for Middle School students. These entertaining and engaging selections introduce students to the wonderful variety of the short story genre. They provide a great starting point for classroom discussions and allow students to have fun while building critical reading and analysis skills.

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  1. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
    This tender story is a "must read" and one of the most famous in the short story genre. The story is a discussion starter for the role of irony. Reading this story first, then following up the next lesson with "The Necklace" will allow students to compare and contrast two important short stories while absorbing import life lessons.
  2. The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant
    Madame Mathilde Loisel is blessed with great beauty but little wealth. Though she dreams of attending parties and balls wearing sparkling jewels she is married to a low-paid clerk of modest means. In a quest to make her happy, the husband sets the story in motion when he attains an invitation to a party.
  3. A Horseman in the Sky by Ambrose Bierce
    A soldier in the American Civil War disappoints his Virginian father to join the Union army and fight for the North in this emotionally jarring masterpiece by Ambrose Bierce.
  4. The Open Window by H.H. Munro
    A mischievous young woman with a very big imagination and a gift for drama "entertains" a house caller waiting on her aunt by spinning a theatrical tale. It is safe can assume that Mr. Framton Nuttle will never be the same again. The point here is simple: short stories are fun!
  5. To Build a Fire by Jack London
    "The dog did not know anything about thermometers" but it had the sense to know "that it was no time for travelling." The man's judgement was not as good as the dog's, and that sets the stage for a classic man vs. nature story.
  6. The Lady, or the Tiger? by Frank Stockton
    The problems of middle school pale in comparison to the dilemma faced by the princess. The title of this iconic story has become a catchphrase to describe a problem that has no solution.
  7. The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs
    Three wishes and a Monkey's paw. What could possibly go wrong? The English author W.W. Jacobs demonstrates how the short story can be used effectively to relate a horror story. A good introduction to the broader gothic genre as well.
  8. The Treasure in the Forest by H.G. Wells
    Allow H.G. Wells to provide an introduction to the morality tale as two Englishmen use an ill-gotten map to hunt for treasure.
  9. The Star by H.G. Wells
    Another selection from H.G. Wells. This is a suspenseful, gripping and well written story, where the author smartly plays "what if" with a potential ending of the world, and turns a beautiful phrase or two while doing it, "So, too, barbarism and savagery, already tired of the novelty, went about their nightly business, and save for a howling dog here and there, the beast world left the star unheeded."
  10. Frederigo's Falcon by Giovanni Boccaccio
    This tale, from Boccaccio's The Decameron (1353) makes an interesting companion piece to O. Henry's modern classic The Gift of the Magi.
  11. Stay tuned, more stories are coming.