We’ve recently started incorporating more short stories into our curriculum, so we thought we’d compile and list share the 9 Best Short Stories for Middle School Students with you!
Ever since we started using short stories more and more in our curriculum, we couldn’t be happier with the results: higher student engagement, increased proficiency in citing and justifying textual evidence, and more complex analysis just to name a few! You can read more about this here.
Here are the 9 Must-Teach Short Stories for your Middle School Students (and why our students (and us!) LOVE them)!
Swift on the heels of “Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen,” we segue into this heartwarming story with another of O. Henry’s twist endings. Jim and Della can’t afford Christmas gifts for one another and each sacrifice their most prized possession for the other. Students love debating who made the bigger sacrifice and why!
We’ve taught this as young as fifth grade, although it’s often considered standard in 8th grade anthologies. It’s perfect to teach in January/the New Year as it focuses on starting fresh and making better choices. We like to begin the unit by having students make predictions using only a few words/phrases from the story (Thank You, M’am, blue suede shoes, Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones) and comparing their predictions to the actual plot. We also have our students write formal thank you letters using a template (FREE HERE) from Roger (the protagonist) to Mrs. Jones–perfect practice for this time of year when hopefully students are writing thank you notes to family and friends for their holiday gifts. We think thank you card writing is a lost art, and this is a perfect activity that ties into the short story!
The hunter becomes the hunted in this creepy short story about a man trapped on an island whose main inhabitant likes to hunt humans for sport. It’s filled with symbolism, irony, and figurative language that paints a vivid picture for students to analyze. This is one of those stories students don’t want to put down, and there’s audible groans if you pause at a cliffhanger! Recommended for mature middle schoolers (grades 7+).