Short stories are a great way for middle school teachers to engage their students in reading and writing. Short stories provide an introduction to literature that is age-appropriate, interesting and easy to understand. They can also introduce students to different genres and themes of literature, sparking their curiosity and encouraging them to try a new genre on their own.
By incorporating short stories, teachers can help students become familiar with literary devices and narrative techniques, building a strong foundation for more complex literature.
Short Stories as Mentor Text
Short stories can be excellent mentor texts for use in a middle school ELA classroom. Short stories are a great way to teach or review literary terms such as setting, characters, plot, etc…By thoughtfully choosing short stories, teachers can demonstrate how to meaningfully incorporate literary devices like imagery, symbolism, and theme. Short stories can also provide examples of how to construct a well-developed plot with interesting characters and a satisfying conclusion.
Favorite Short Stories for Middle School
All Summer in a Day is a science fiction short story by Ray Bradbury. The story is set on the planet Venus, where it rains constantly and has done so for seven years straight. The children of the planet have never seen the sun and eagerly await an unexpected break in the clouds that will allow them to experience its warmth. However, one girl, Margot, has only recently arrived on the planet and remembers what it was like to experience the sun back home. The other children exclude her and become jealous when she talks about how wonderful the sun is. When the clouds part, they lock Margot in a closet so that she cannot enjoy the sun with them. Eventually, they realize their mistake and let her out to join them. In the end, Margot’s recollections of the sun bring joy to everyone, as they share in their newfound appreciation of its warmth and beauty.
Raymond’s Run by Toni Cade Bambara tells the story of a young girl, Squeaky, and her relationship with her brother Raymond. Squeaky is an athletic girl who loves running and takes pride in being the fastest runner in their neighborhood. She has to take care of Raymond who is slower both physically and mentally and is often picked on by the other children.
One day, Squeaky sees a new boy in the neighborhood who can potentially beat her at race time. She trains hard to make sure she remains the fastest runner but soon realizes that Raymond too is capable of running fast. With Squeaky’s encouragement and support, Raymond begins to gain confidence and learns to accept himself for who he is. In the end, Raymond manages to beat the new boy in a race and Squeaky discovers that her brother is more talented than she knew. The story celebrates the power of self-confidence and encourages readers to be accepting of everyone’s differences.
The Treasure of Lemon Brown is a short story by Walter Dean Myers that follows the journey of a young man named Greg who is trying to find his place in the world. After getting into trouble with his father, he goes out for a walk and encounters an old man living in an abandoned building. The old man, Lemon Brown, tells him a story about how he once owned a valuable treasure. With Lemon’s help, Greg learns the importance of family and discovers the value of his own experiences. In the end, Greg is able to reconcile with his father and finds a new appreciation for life. The story encourages readers to look at the world around them with fresh eyes and to make the most of their lives.
The Ransom of Red Chief is a short story by O. Henry that tells the humorous tale of two criminals, Bill and Sam, who plan to abduct a young boy named Red Cheif from his town. In order to do so they must pay a ransom for his safe return. However, their plans quickly go awry when the mischievous and unruly Red Cheif proves to be more than they can handle. Eventually, the two criminals are so desperate to be rid of Red Cheif that they offer the boy’s father twice the ransom amount if he will take him back. In the end, Bill and Sam realize that their plan was a failure and that nothing has been gained from their endeavor. The story serves as a reminder that not all plans are foolproof and that sometimes, just being lucky is the best way to succeed. In this classic O. Henry tale, humor prevails in an unexpected twist of fate for our two would-be criminals.
Short stories are a great way to engage middle school ELA students and help them build their skills in reading and writing. Short stories provide an introduction to literature that is age-appropriate, interesting, and easy to understand while introducing students to different genres and themes of literature. By incorporating short stories as mentor texts into the curriculum, teachers can help students gain a better understanding of literary elements and narrative techniques, as well as inspire them to read independently.