- The Nightingale and the Rose by Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde takes up the topic of true love in The Nightingale and the Rose. Is it Profound? Everlasting? Fickle? Wilde spins up a tale centered around a young man, a nightingale and a rose bush, and a professor's daughter. Where does the wisdom lie?
- A New England Nun by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Now it's Mary E. Wilkins Freeman's turn to write about love. Louisa Ellis, Dagget, and a dog named Ceasar test the old aphorism that "absence makes the heart grow fonder."" The young couple becomes engaged, then Dagget strikes out to seek his fortune before they marry. Fourteen years pass and Louisa Ellis grows comfortably independent. What happens when her fiancee returns?
- Letter to Sarah Ballou by Sullivan Ballou
A lawyer and politician turned Civil War soldier, Major Sullivan Ballou, was torn between love for his wife and family and his feelings of devotion and duty to his country. He penned his now famous letter on July 14, 1861. He was mortally wounded a week later at the First Battle of Bull Run (or First Manassas as the Confederates called it). He passed away on July 29th, just fifteen days after authoring the letter.
- The Veteran by Stephen Crane
The Red Badge of Courage is one of the most widely read novels in English speaking high schools around the world. If you have read it, then you have already met Henry Fleming. In this story, Crane revisits Fleming and weighs in on character and courage one final time.
- The Affair at Coulter's Notch by Ambrose Bierce
This is a story that is rife with deeper symbolism as a white officer and his soldiers, working their artillery, are transformed into 'black' men by their work. But do not focus on the literary techniques to distraction or you will miss the real art of the story, which first emerges with a soldier's hesitation.
- To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time by Robert Herrick
Made famous to modern audiences when it was recited by Robin Williams in the movie Dead Poets Society
poem is emblematic of the carpe diem
theme which promotes the idea that time is short, and one must live for the moment. Featured in Poetry for Students
- The Cat by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Freeman delivers this well crafted tale with the cunning and patience of her protagonist. A brilliant piece of writing, conveying the balance of survival and need for companionship shared by all creatures.
- The Father by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
The Norwegian author, and winner of the 1903 Nobel Prize in literature, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson uses just over 1,000 words to spin this powerful morality tale. This story is beloved by the people that "get it." If you finish the story and don't get it, read it a second time -- as a man vs. himself story -- and trace the development of Thord's conduct and bearing as well as his use of money.
- The Passing of Grandison by Charles W. Chesnutt
Charles W. Chesnutt
was born in Ohio in 1858, the son of freed slaves. A businessman and author, Chesnutt focused his writing efforts on post Civil War racial issues. This clever story is also a featured selection in the African American Library
- A Journey by Edith Wharton
There are many journeys happening in this story: the actual train travel, an individual's journey through their own life, and the journey of a marriage as well. The title itself is a play on words. This seems to be a story that people enjoy even if they are unsure what it means. It's a good one for classroom discussion; where does the journey end?
- Second Inaugural Address by Abraham Lincoln
When Abaham Lincoln emerged on the scene of American History, he carried with him a distinctly American voice, one that had broken free and clear of a European manner of speaking and writing. In this brief address, Lincoln spoke so little, yet said so much. "Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away."
- The Shed Chamber by Laura E. Richards
"The world seemed very big and Tupham Corner a very small corner in it. I will not say anything more about this part; you'll find it out soon enough yourselves, when you go away from home the first time."
- The Marry Month of May by O. Henry
Featuring O. Henry's characteristic plot twists, this amusing story about springtime love gives a whole new meaning to the term "ice queen."
- Boule de Suif by Guy de Maupassant
Okay boys and girls . . . this one is extra credit. I added it after a long deliberation. It is for advanced students only and is rather long for a short story with more than 14,000 words. You will find introductory material in Maupassant's bio where I suggest you read the brief description in the second to last paragraph and continue if you are inspired. May the brave proceed.
- More titles are available in Short Stories for High School I, Favorite Short Stories Collection and 75 Short Short Stories