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June 24, 2006 2:38 PM   Subscribe

High-interest short stories for teens?

My girlfriend teaches 8th grade reading, and she's looking for some stories that her kids might be interested in. These are easily bored/distracted kids, so she'd prefer action-packed writing that's easy to read (ie not too many big words). What do you say, MeFi?
posted by Gilbert to Education (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There are some good suggestions in this similar thread from a few months ago.
posted by Gator at 2:46 PM on June 24, 2006

Though it is mentioned in the already linked thread, I highly suggest Ender's Game.

I read it in Grade 7 when I found it on my teacher's book shelf. I was already an avid reader but it really opened me up to new genre's. It remains one of my favorite books to this day.
posted by utsutsu at 3:12 PM on June 24, 2006

The Most Dangerous Game

The Necklace

The Lottery

Jeez, I'm describing my junior high english reading list. Worked for me though . . .
posted by jeremias at 3:15 PM on June 24, 2006

Check out the annual Best American Nonrequired Reading collections. Lots of good shorter works there.
posted by the_bone at 3:23 PM on June 24, 2006

Recently, a YA short story collection called Black Juice by Margo Lanagan was a Printz honor book; they're short stories with mostly a light fantasy/ anthropological SF slant. There's not a single bad story among them, and some are very good indeed.
posted by Jeanne at 3:25 PM on June 24, 2006

I recently read Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules, a book of short stories edited by David Sedaris and published to support 826NYC (a nonprofit tutpring and writing skills center for kids and teens in NY). It's comprised of both classic and contemporary stories that Sedaris likes, or that moved him in some way, and there wasn't a boring one in the bunch. I'd particularly recommend Gryphon by Charles Baxter and Oh, Joseph, I'm So Tired by Richard Yates, but I'm sure there are a bunch of others that would be great that I'm forgetting. Also, maybe The Girl With the Blackened Eye by Joyce Carol Oates, although it's a bit intense.

Also - in 8th grade I first read The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, and An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce. You never forget the first time you read either of those stories.
posted by amro at 3:29 PM on June 24, 2006

tutpring = tutoring

And Ambrose Bierce shouldn't be italicized, oops.
posted by amro at 3:31 PM on June 24, 2006

Comic books! Illustrated classics! I would've been stoked beyond words if my 8th-grade-class pulled out a cool Batman/Superman comic with themes of heroism/sacrifice and whatnot. Or the Illustrated classics version of actiony books like Moby Dick, Last of the Mohicans, etc.

It would also be cool to pull out chapters of books, especially historical fiction, and present them as short stories. I'm thinking the defense of Little Round Top from the Pulitzer-Prize winning The Killer Angels.
posted by frogan at 3:36 PM on June 24, 2006

Oh, and Stephen King's early-career short stories are great.
posted by frogan at 3:37 PM on June 24, 2006

It's hard to beat James Thurber. Pretty much anything by him.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:58 PM on June 24, 2006

How about Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron?
posted by dseaton at 4:00 PM on June 24, 2006

the Push books are supposed to be edgy and interesting. im sure these are the books i would have wanted to read back then.
posted by c at 4:03 PM on June 24, 2006

Ray Bradbury's A Sound of Thunder. Simpsons fans in your class may recall that it was parodied in one of the more famous Treehouse of Horror episodes.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 5:39 PM on June 24, 2006

Some Asimov maybe? Perhaps a little old-school, but his shorts tend to be quickly engaging with tight and punchy writing. As a young teen I was most stimulated by Nightfall and The Last Question. Though I concede I may not be entirely in touch with the tastes of the youth of today.
posted by MetaMonkey at 7:07 PM on June 24, 2006

I'm sure at least one or two Raymond Carver short stories would work. There are also a few books that contain really really short stories called Sudden Fiction and Flash Fiction. I was older when I read these, but a few may work. It's a cool way to show kids how something under 5 pages can be a complete and interesting story.
posted by jdl at 7:31 PM on June 24, 2006

Thirding The Lottery, which is still one of my favorite shorts.

If the scale is going to tip more towards high interest than stellar writing (which is not a bad thing...they're still reading, right?), I'd second Stephen King. The man has done some compelling short stories. The Raft and The Mist, both from Skeleton Crew, are absolutely riveting; longer but worth it is The Langoliers. Along the same vein, Jack London would do. To Start a Fire is a good, captivating tale.

Also, I recall a story (forgot the title and author) about a lonely boy who watches some older kids swimming in the ocean. They go under the water on one side of a seawall and come up on the other. He discovers an underwater tunnel and the whole story is him preparing for and navigating it. My lungs hurt during the last few hundred words.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 8:31 PM on June 24, 2006

Steven King wrote some short stories under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. They are GREAT, just what you're looking for.
posted by vito90 at 9:20 PM on June 24, 2006

As a high school English teacher, I have to recommend drama for teens. I just finished teaching Fences by August Wilson and my kids loved it. It's not a short story obviously, but it isn't too long either. I've taught many of the short stories mentioned so far and had good luck with a lot of them. "The Lottery" and "The Most Dangerous Game" are both good suggestions.

See also this AskMe in response to a question of mine.
posted by etc. at 11:20 PM on June 24, 2006

The Best American Non-Required Reading is a yearly collection, edited by David Eggers, of most excellent short stories from assorted zines, comic books, literary magazines, etc that I would highly reccomend.
posted by sophist at 1:43 AM on June 25, 2006

1. The Sun also Rises
2. To Kill a Mockingbird
3. How to Win Friends and Influence People (I blame dad)
4. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
5. Any Jeeves and Wooster book, they are seriously underrated.
6. Lord of the Flies
7. I am the Cheese, which is a thrillingly weird book that will perplex anyone.
8. Utz, by Bruce Chatwin. I love this book. I love Bruce Chatwin.
9. Home Recording Basics.
posted by parmanparman at 4:20 AM on June 25, 2006

I recommend Bradbury's "The Illustrated Man."
posted by scratch at 8:52 AM on June 25, 2006

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