It can be tough getting kids to read nowadays. There are so many cool electronic distractions and diversions for them to play with, that the idea of sitting down with a good book can seem sort of boring. You might not be able to convince your teenager to grab a novel right off the bat, but introducing them to some entertaining short stories might get them to start reading just for the pure joy of it.
Short Stories Teens Will Enjoy
When you think of short stories for teenagers, there are some classic titles that come up. I still remember reading many of these in middle school and high school simply because they were such good stories. The teachers loved them because they readily lent themselves to critical analysis. I just knew that I enjoyed them. Today, classic short stories hold a special place in my heart as a parent and teacher because they can grab a reader by their imagination almost instantly transport them to a different place and time. There isn’t room for a lot of fluff, and that’s a very good thing when you are trying to get the attention of a teenager with a million other distractions surrounding them. I’m including some newer titles here as well and I hope you’ll check them out if you haven’t already. You might also want to check out this list of short stories for teenagers. By the way, these are great for adults too! This is really just a starter list of classic short stories for teens, so please feel free to share your favorites in the comments.
The classic short story by Shirley Jackson (1948)
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson is a classic tale that I remember reading in middle school. It was definitely a change from my elementary readers. Although it was published way back in 1948, it still packs a punch. Today’s fans of The Hunger Games will certainly see some similarities and might be pleasantly surprised. I found an interesting analysis of The Lottery, but be warned that there ARE spoilers.
An amazing collection of short stories by Isaac Asimov
If you are a science fiction fan, or you know a teen who is, you’ve got to read Isaac Asimov. The book shown here is a collection of some of his popular short stories. It includes the classic tale Nightfall. Some say that the storyline of Nightfall isn’t very plausible. I would say however, that the reactions of people to the unexpected can often be quite strange. The gist of the tale is that people living on a planet that never sees night are exposed to a solar eclipse. They are suddenly able to get a peek at a night sky, and their world is changed. It is not all for the good. Check it out.
The Most Dangerous Game
Richard Connell (1924)
What would it feel like to be hunted by another person? This classic short story from 1924 was written by Richard Connell. I love older stories like this. I often tell students that they need to see “a movie” in their heads and make a connection with what the characters are feeling and experiencing. This story can help them do that and demonstrates that you don’t have to sit in front of a 3D movie to get a horrific thrill. This story is a great example of why some things are considered classics for a reason.
An unusual collection of short stories by Raymond Carver
Raymond Carver is considered a minimalist writer. His short stories are about “regular” people. They get you to take a look at yourself and the people you see every day in a new way. This collection is a nice change of pace from the selections I’ve mentioned above.
The Diamond as Big as The Ritz
Travel back in time with F. Scott Fitzgerald
Not everyone likes the style of F. Scott Fitzgerald, but this short story is an interesting peek into the lives of people living an opulent lifestyle back in the 1920s.
The Best of Poe
Must Read short stories by Edgar Allan Poe
These were some of my favorite short stories back in high school. I loved reading them. This volume includes The Tell-Tale Heart, The Raven, The Cask of Amontillado, and 30 Others. If you haven’t read Poe, you really should. If you are a fan of his short stories, this is a book that you should add to your collection. I remember reading Poe as an assignment. Once I started, I couldn’t put the book down. Can you tell I’m a Poe fan?
Get a teenager to read today
What I’ve tried to put together is a short list of good books for teenagers. I realize that it could never really be comprehensive. A list of favorite books is always going to be somewhat subjective, but there are some really great short stories that seem to cross the barriers of demographics and that even stand the test of time.
In my humble opinion, reading is one of the most important skills that we can learn. It helps us to get our imagination into high gear. If you are a parent reading this, encourage your children to see value in books. I have specifically focused on books for teenagers because I think that is when it is most likely that non-readers will start drifting away from reading at all. These short stories for teenagers can usually be read in a relatively short amount of time and won’t put too much of a burden on those with a limited attention span.
These books, as I mentioned earlier, are also a very inexpensive option when searching out gifts for teenagers. They have huge upside potential. If the person you are buying for ends up loving the book, you could be opening up new worlds for them!
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