A middle school is a fun 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 9 short stories below are sometimes surprising, other times hair-raising, yet mostly or middle school. 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.
Teachers love using short stories in the classroom for so many reasons! A great short story can get our students thinking and making connections. Short stories are perfect for teaching literary terms and vocabulary. Plus, students enjoy discussions around the conflicts and themes in short stories. And because these gems can be taught in a few class periods, students gain some solid literary momentum when we add several to a unit.
I like starting the year with short stories to build my students’ appreciation for brief, attention-grabbing fiction. Students can toss around their ideas on characters’ decisions and infer and predict as the action rises. At the same time, I can acquaint them with pertinent literary terms. In fact, I find that I can really dig into many of the standards for literature, including new words, figurative language, development of the theme, and more.
What are the benefits of finding great short stories online?
Many teachers have lots of short stories to choose from, but there are also many who don’t! If your school is low on resources, your students can enjoy 10 amazing short stories for middle school by using the links below. Here are some other benefits of finding great short stories online:
- Students can read the stories from their laptops or other devices. Whether you have a 1:1 classroom or you’re able to use (or borrow) a cart of devices, students do enjoy reading from their screens.
- Reading is easy to assign for homework. Instead of having to take home a textbook, or you having to make copies, you can have students read at home on their devices. This arrangement also works well for students who have missed class.
- You can plan lessons in advance without an anthology. Teachers who are starting at a new school or grade level can access the stories and start planning lessons without wondering if the stories will be available in print for students.
- The stories are always at your fingertips. The stories are wherever you are, so you can refer to them whenever you need to.
Here are 9 short stories perfect for middle school found online:
1. The Scholarship Jacket
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.
Download The PDF Free – The Scholarship Jacket
2. The Medicine Bag
Martin feels embarrassed when his aging Sioux grandfather shows up at his family’s home unannounced. Exhausted and sickly, Grandpa has come to pass a Sioux tradition on to Martin, causing Martin fear. Instead, Martin learns startling things about his grandfather he never knew, causing him to change his outlook profoundly.
Download The PDF Free – The Medicine Bag
3. Thank You, Ma’am
Langston Hughes’ classic story begins with Roger trying to snatch a purse from Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones. After shaking him up quite a bit, she takes Roger to her home, shares a meal with him, and talks about wanting things she couldn’t have when she was young. She gives him money to buy the shoes he wanted, and Roger leaves having learned a lesson about right and wrong.
Download The PDF Free – Thank You Ma’am
4. The Treasure of Lemon Brown
When he leaves his house upset with his father, fourteen-year-old Greg finds a homeless man in an old tenement. Greg and the man, Lemon Brown, scare away some menacing thugs, and when Lemon Brown reveals a “treasure” he claims to have, Greg learns something about parents that causes him to have a change of heart towards his father.
Download The PDF Free – The Treasure of Lemon Brown
5. Stop the Sun
This story centers around thirteen-year-old Terry and his father, who is suffering with post-traumatic stress syndrome from the Vietnam War. His father has become totally withdrawn, and very often his “eyes go away.” After he has a breakdown in public, Terry attempts to talk to him and is surprised when his dad suddenly opens up about the killings he witnessed and the guilt that haunts him.
Download The PDF Free – Stop the Sun
6. Born Worker
Jose comes from a poor family and has been a hard worker all his life. His cousin, Arnie, is just the opposite: wealthy, lazy, and deceptive. When Arnie proposes that he find jobs for them with Arnie taking a 50/50 cut, Jose knows he must keep his head and his values as he deals with Arnie’s dishonest nature. Jose gains the understanding that there will always be people in the world like Arnie, but he will be like his father, a born worker.
Download The PDF Free – Born Worker
7. The Ransom of Red Chief
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.
Download The PDF Free – The Ransom of Red Chief
8. The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street
This one is a teleplay—an episode of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone. Neighbors fear that aliens have landed when a bright flash appears in the sky and strange things begin to happen. Incited by a young boy’s stories, people accuse each other of being an alien sent in advance. Panic and a mob scene leave readers questioning who the real monsters are. Great for engaging students in a dramatic read-aloud!
9. Seventh Grade
Victor begins his first day in seventh grade hoping to make Teresa his girlfriend. After a series of awkward run-ins with her, he attends his French class, where she is also enrolled. To impress Teresa, Victor pretends to know French but has to use gibberish when responding to his teacher’s questions. Mr. Bueller does not embarrass Victor, but instead, his empathy leads to new understandings and confidence for Victor.
Here’s another list of 40 Short Stories for Middle Schools.
- All Summer in a Day by Ray Bradbury
- Amigo Brothers by Piri Thomas
- The Scholarship Jacket by Marta Salinas
- Icarus and Daedalus by Josephine Preston Peabody
- Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keys
- Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
- Raymond’s Run by Toni Cade Bambara
- Rules of the Game by Amy Tan
- The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs
- The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant by W.D. Wetherell
- To Build a Fire by Jack London
- The Ransom of Red Chief by O. Henry (Available in our All Access Membership)
- Seventh Grade by Gary Soto
- A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury
- The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe (Available in our All Access Membership)
- The Lady or the Tiger? by Frank Stockton (Available in our All Access Membership)
- There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury (Available in our All Access Membership)
- The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
- Hearts and Hands by O. Henry (Available in our All Access Membership)
- Mother and Daughter by Gary Soto (Available in our All Access Membership)
- The Rocking Horse Winner by D. H. Lawrence (Available in our All Access Membership)
- Miss Awful by Arthur Cavenaugh (Available in our All Access Membership)
- Charles by Shirley Jackson (Available in our All Access Membership)
- The Moustache by Robert Cormier (Available in our All Access Membership)
- Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne (Available in our All Access Membership)
- The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka* (Available in our All Access Membership)
- The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell (Available in our All Access Membership)
- The Two Brothers by Leo Tolstoy (Available in our All Access Membership)
- The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe
- The Sniper by Liam O’Flaherty (Available in our All Access Membership)
- An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce (Available in our All Access Membership)
- The Veldt by Ray Bradbury (Available in our All Access Membership)
- Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving (Available in our All Access Membership)
- The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
- The Third Wish by Joan Aiken (Available in our All Access Membership)
- The Landlady by Roald Dahl
- The Fun They Had by Isaac Asimov (Available in our All Access Membership)
- Rikki Tikki Tavi by Rudyard Kipling (Available in our All Access Membership)
- The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
- Thank you, Ma’am by Langston Hughes
- Names/Nombres by Julia Alvarez
- The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry | Assessment Activity & Creative Writing Project | Assessment Activity & Creative Writing Project on TpT
- The Possibility of Evil by Shirley Jackson | Assessment Activity & Writing Project | Assessment Activity & Writing Project on TpT
- The Masque of the Red by Death by Edgar Allan Poe* | Assessment Activity | Assessment Activity on TpT
- The Stone by Lloyd Alexander
- 2 B R 0 2 B by Kurt Vonnegut
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