31 Classic Short Stories for Middle School Students

Updated on April 17, 2020
Howard Allen profile image

Howard is an avid short story reader who likes to help others find and understand stories.


It can be a challenge to get young people interested in reading. At the sight of a thick novel, most students feel overwhelmed and are scared away by the time commitment it requires.

For this reason alone, the short story is a great starting point for those who don’t take to reading easily. They’re also great for fans of literature, providing a refreshing change of pace. The world of the short story can be experienced in one uninterrupted sitting, and the best short stories are every bit as engaging and resonant as the best novels.

I hope you find some new selections here. One of my favorite collections for students is Breaking Free: A Cross-Cultural Anthology. It has 31 short stories and 12 poems by authors from many different cultural backgrounds.

1. "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell


A man lost at sea swims to an island owned by General Zafoff. The two bond over their love of hunting, but the general reveals that, instead of animals, he hunts people. The general will not let the man leave the island unless he agrees to letting General Zafoff hunt for him. If he can elude him for three days, he is free to go.

Read "The Most Dangerous Game"

2. "America and I" by Anzia Yezierska


An immigrant seeks a life of creative self-expression in America, but encounters disappointment and unfairness along the way. America and I vividly portrays the challenges of an immigrant. It deals with poverty and the role of charity.

3. "To Build a Fire" by Jack London


It's negative 75 degrees in the Yukon. A man travels on foot with his husky to meet up with some acquaintances. The going gets tough when he breaks through thin ice and soaks his boots.

Read "To Build a Fire"

4. "Black Boy" by Kay Boyle


A young girl in a seaside town becomes friends with a black boy who earns money by transporting people around the boardwalk on a chair. One day she has an accident while riding her horse. Black Boy comments on prejudice, childhood perceptions, and fantasy.

5. "Miss Awful" by Arthur Cavanaugh


Robert is a third grade student who finds out his teacher, Miss Wilson, is going to be away for a while. He likes Miss Wilson because she is fun and lenient. The substitute teacher, Miss Orville, is strict about completing schoolwork and maintaining order in the classroom.

Read "Miss Awful"

6. "The Moustache" by Robert Cormier


Mike, who is 17-years-old, is going to Lawnrest Nursing Home to visit his grandmother. She has a chronic circulatory disease and a fading memory. He isn’t eager to make the visit, because he is worried that his grandmother may be having one of her bad days.

Read "The Moustache"

7. "The Green Leaves" by Grace Ogot


In an African village, a group of men pursue cattle thieves. Later, one of the villagers tries to steal from one of the dead thieves. The Green Leaves illustrates themes of greed, modernization, and community that work against the individual.

8. "A Visit of Charity" by Eudora Welty


A 14-year-old girl visits an Old Ladies' Home. She is trying to earn points as part of her duties as a Campfire Girl.

Read "A Visit of Charity"

9. "The Lady, or the Tiger?" by Frank Stockton


Set in ancient times, a king has an unusual method of putting criminals on trial. The criminal is placed in an arena with two identical doors. Behind one is a hungry tiger, and behind the other door is a beautiful woman. The accused gets to open one of the doors, and chance decides whether he is guilty or innocent.

Read "The Lady, or the Tiger?"

10. "The Treasure in the Forest" by H. G. Wells


Evans and Hooker are on a canoe approaching land. They trying to decipher a roughly drawn map they stole from a Chinese man after overhearing him talk about a treasure he had found and reburied.

Read "The Treasure in the Forest"

11. "The Wives of the Dead" by Nathaniel Hawthorne


Two women who married two brothers and who live in the same household receive news that both of their husbands are dead. The Wives of the Dead deals with reactions to loss and blurs the lines between reality and dreams.

Read "The Wives of the Dead"

12. "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe


A man schemes to take revenge on someone who injured and insulted him. This is a dark story with a lot of tension. There’s suspense in the physical action (will the narrator’s revenge be successful?) and the characterization (is the narrator reliable?), making it an engaging experience that’s worth a careful reading.

Read "The Cask of Amontillado"

13. "Night Drive" by Will F. Jenkins


As Madge is getting ready to drive to Colchester, she gets a phone call from Mr. Tabor, who asks her if she would drive his niece Eunice back home. She agrees but is uncomfortable. Mr. Tabor’s wife was killed on the road to Colchester along with another woman. Madge picks up Eunice and finds her off-putting and unsettling.

Read "Night Drive"

14. "The Wish" by Roald Dahl


A young boy attempts to cross a long carpet in his home, imagining it to be full of snakes and hot coals.

Read "The Wish"

15. "A Burlesque Biography" by Mark Twain


Mark Twain goes back hundreds of years to describe some of the notables in his family line. A Burlesque Biography is a funny family history and when the reader realizes the subterfuge of the story it’s hard not to read it again.

Read "A Burlesque Biography"

16. "The Scholarship Jacket" by Marta Salinas


A 14-year-old girl is going to be awarded her school's scholarship jacket because she's been a straight A student for years. But an unforeseen complication arises.

Read "The Scholarship Jacket"

17. "The Story of the Bad Little Boy" by Mark Twain


A boy’s many misdeeds go unpunished as Mark Twain mocks of the cliché of moral children's stories.

Read "The Story of the Bad Little Boy"

18. "The Sentimentalists" by Morley Callaghan


A department store detective watches three women. Two young men bet on which is the thief.

Read "The Sentimentalists"

19. "The Friday Everything Changed" by Ann Hart


A girl in a small town classroom upsets the boys by challenging a local tradition.

Read "The Friday Everything Changed"

20. "The Veldt" by Ray Bradbury


A family lives in an automated house, which includes a virtual nursery that takes care of the children's needs. The children plot to keep things as they are when the parents decide to become more self-reliant and give up some of the technology.

Read "The Veldt"

21. "A Sound of Thunder" by Ray Bradbury


A group of people take a hunting trip into the past but must be careful not to do anything that could affect the future.

Read "A Sound of Thunder"

22. "All Summer in a Day" by Ray Bradbury

Humans are living on Venus. The children are eagerly awaiting an event that scientists have confirmed: it will stop raining for two hours, the only break from rain in seven years. The kids speculate about what the sun is like.

Read "All Summer in a Day"

23. "Tobermory" by Saki


At a party, a man presents a cat that he has taught to speak. The cat embarrasses the guests by revealing things they’ve said about each other.

Read "Tobermory"

24. "Gabriel-Ernest" by Saki


A man encounters a feral boy who later infiltrates his home.

Read "Gabriel-Ernest"

25. "Civil Peace" by Chinua Achebe


In post civil war Nigeria, Jonathan Iwegbu and his family rebuild their lives. This story deals with war, lawlessness, and the value of hard work.

Read "Civil Peace"

26. "Araby" by James Joyce


A boy goes to a bazaar to buy a present for his crush, the older sister of his friend. Araby is one of the standout stories from the short story gold mine, Dubliners. It deals with alienation and transformation, has religious undertones and a characteristic Joycean epiphany ending.

Read "Araby"

27. "The Night the Ghost Got In" by James Thurber


In the middle of the night, the narrator reports hearing footsteps downstairs, causing his mother to call the police and his delusional grandfather to shoot one of the officers. This humorous story finds comedy in common things. It deals with absurdity and defiance of authority and social norms.

Read "The Night the Ghost Got In"

28. "The Elevator" by William Sleator


Martin, a 12-year-old, has moved to an apartment building with an old, small elevator. He tries to avoid it, but he lives on the seventeenth floor and doesn't want to look like a coward. One morning, an unusual lady rides the elevator with him, increasing his sense of dread and regret.

Read "The Elevator"

29. "Seventh Grade" by Gary Soto


It's Victor's first day back at school. He's preoccupied with Teresa and tries to get in her classes and "accidentally" meet up with her. His friend, Michael, is experimenting with a method for attracting girls.

Read "Seventh Grade"

30. "And Sarah Laughed" by Joanne Greenberg


Sarah has been preparing the farmhouse for her son Abel and his new bride, whom the family hasn't met yet. Sarah's husband Matthew is deaf, as are all of their children. They didn't learn sign language so their home has always been silent.

31. "Three Skeleton Key" by George G. Toudouze


The narrator relates the most terrifying experience he's had. He was working with two other men in a lighthouse. The night watchman woke everyone at two in the morning. A large ship was sailing right for them. It missed them but then came around and headed for them again. They tried to figure out what was going on. When they examined the ship with their binoculars, they were alarmed at what they saw.

Read "Three Skeleton Key"

© 2013 Howard Allen


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      19 months ago

      cool books


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, wehavekids.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)