Short story for dictation
May 8, 2012 10:46 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a short story to read to my school class for them to practice dictation.

I am taking part in a small educational research project that involves me reading a story aloud to a mixed, both in sex and ability, class of 30 students. They are UK year 7, which translates to between 11 and 12 years old. We will be spending about 5 minutes a day with me reading the story and them copying it down.

It is hoped that over time, and as we progress through the story, the students will become more competent at dictation and we will cover more each day.

I am having difficulty finding a short story that:

a) Has a high density of interesting/excitement/"want to know more" feeling to it.
b) Appeals to both boys and girls of varying interest.
c) Has an appropriate reading level.

Any ideas would be superb - thanks.

Side note: I know that dictation can be of limited value, but that is part of the point of the study!
posted by Morsey to Education (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Poison by Roald Dahl might be interest. It's certainly very tense.

It was my 9th Grade go-to story because it really is exciting. If you're sensitive about snakes though....ew!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:57 AM on May 8, 2012

How about The Conversion of Ka'ahumanu?
posted by lotusmish at 11:41 AM on May 8, 2012

The Lottery?
posted by Perodicticus potto at 12:09 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Ransom of Red Chief, by O Henry!
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:38 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Coraline by Neil Gaiman is great to read aloud.
posted by spunweb at 12:40 PM on May 8, 2012

Here are some Japanese tales:

The Story of the Man Who Did Not Wish to Die..... or listen to it

The White Hare and the Crocodiles

The Tongue-Cut Sparrow

When I was that age, we had dictation once a week and it really helped with spelling and punctuation. Those were the times where we had homework each and every day for each class. sigh.

Good luck with your research project.
posted by travelwithcats at 1:06 PM on May 8, 2012

Maybe something by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (in translation)? I am thinking of The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World, for example. Or something from Vonnegut's Welcome to the Monkey House... Harrison Bergeron? Hawthorne and Poe are always good (but maybe not for that age, I don't know).
posted by désoeuvrée at 3:36 PM on May 8, 2012

On second thought, Harrison Bergeron (while a great story) is a terrible suggestion. Nevermind.
posted by désoeuvrée at 3:43 PM on May 8, 2012

I remember hearing Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl when I was about that age.

It's great because the reader knows how it ends...but do the characters in the story? It's interesting listening, it's fun because it's a clever homicide, and it will keep the kids interested over the course of several days (weeks?) because they know how it ends but will want to see if the police can figure it out.
posted by Elly Vortex at 4:42 PM on May 8, 2012

Seconding "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson. Creepy goodness!
posted by Jandoe at 8:43 PM on May 8, 2012

These are some ace suggestions - many thanks to you all. Poison looks like a winner at the moment. It fulfils the suspense aspect and has language that my students will be able to understand and write.

posted by Morsey at 12:26 PM on May 15, 2012

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